Report card week, and needless to say my children did exceptionally well (as usual). Normally I humbly brag on my children. This time I forgot. I actually just kinda reveled in the moment. They were proud, I was proud, husband was proud-that was all that mattered. But I watched closely as Facebook friends shared photos of straight A’s and along with them, I felt a since of pride and joy for their children, as if they were my own.
As mothers we can often relate to one another in this aspect. When our children do something exceptional, we want the entire world to know about it. But there are those childless folks who can in many ways suck the fun and joy out of sharing our children’s special moment.
Last year, a new mom in Australia found herself on the receiving end of hate mail, when supposed “friends” wanted to let her know how irritated they were due to her over-sharing about her new baby on Facebook. Well folks I am here to say I am that parent, and I don’t give two claps about what anyone has to say.
For some reason or another, people are under the impression that they have to read or be subjected to your social media posts. When in fact, they do not.
But I learned early on that most social sharing sites, whether it is Twitter, Instagram or Facebook have this handy dandy feature button that allow you to unfollow folks at your leisure. And it is pretty simple to use. But instead, this new mom’s “friends” (it’s debatable as to if they really were), couldn’t figure out how to use it, so they decided to send her hate mail instead. Which takes more time to do rather than unfollowing.
I myself have been on the receiving end of said hate messages. I understand the pros as well as the cons of over-sharing. Pros: You can keep up with family and friends who live far away . It give those who don’t get a chance to see you or family on a regular basis, watch your kids grow up before their eyes still.
The cons however can result in people hating your guts, and possibly if you overshare too much, cost you your job. I have a terrible love/hate relationship with social media. I was part of the early FB crowd that had to have a college email address to sign up. So there was really nothing wrong with oversharing at that time, because everyone did it. However while I was posting cute pictures of my toddler playing in the yard, most of my friends were still childless posting their Thursday-Sunday drunk pics every week. Did they get sick of pics of my kid? I am sure they did. Did I have people unfriend me? Of course. Did I care? Not one bit. Simply because the same way I ignored and overlooked other’s drunk pictures, is the same way pictures of kids can be ignored, without all of the hullabaloo.
Everyone thinks that their snowflake is special; I am no different. I don’t post about my kids “awesomeness” to be a bitch or to brag. I post because I am a very proud parent. Parenting in itself is one of the absolute hardest, yet most rewarding full-time jobs out there; whether you are working out of the home full time or staying home full-time. Sure if you think being able to drink an entire bottle of Everclear is awesome, or that you finally got a matching sweater with your dog is more awesome-then I would venture to say we have different priorities, and are at different spaces in our lives.
I also have to keep in mind that I have my own reasons for posting about my children. And while others may not like it or agree, the one thing that can’t be disputed is that social media was created to share your life. Some choose to share little to nothing, while others (such as myself) choose to share every single thing. Whatever your vice may be, that’s okay. But it’s not okay to dictate to others what they can or cannot do. I don’t post to defend any of parenting choices, I post because there are different methods of parenting and different avenues as well as values, and for new parents or even veteran parents, if you see someone trying something you may want to attempt it with your family. I look at things people do all of the time,and I think “that’s a neat concept,we should give this a try”.
Despite the bad, Facebook and social media in general, can be good for a few reasons I have outline below;
1. It gives you an opportunity to connect with others when you can’t: Being a SAHM can be rough at times. I often find myself in the house, so Facebook (and Twitter) gives me a chance to connect with other moms who are in the house like I am. It has also given me the opportunity to meet some wonderful ladies, who have become great friends in real life. On top of that, I have had the opportunity to network and meet other folks who have the same passions that I do, thus allowing a few doors to open up.
2. You aren’t going through it alone: Social media has also given me the opportunity to speak with parents who may be experiencing the “high spirited” toddler age, the moody pre-tween or having a child with Autism. Being able to share and relate these stories with others has been a great way for me to know and truly understand “okay, it’s not just us” dealing with this.
3. When all else fails, it’s a way to kill time: I hate sitting places, whether its trying to get the oil changed, or even during nap time, those handy dandy Facebook games are an amazing way to kill time (Remember Sorority Life and Mobsters, or even Candy Crush?). And don’t get me started a good thread in a FB group…talk about a way to lose track of time.
To add, I don’t only use social media to highlight the best parts of parenting/motherhood. I don’t mind showing people the moments where I have failed miserably. Like my attempt at making a birthday cake; Even my going through postpartum depression and bipolar disorder. Parenting isn’t glamorous 100% of the time, and even in its darkest moments it is my hope through sharing that I can inspire that first time mom who is up at 3 a.m. sobbing because her baby won’t sleep, or the mom that just came home with her newborn and still can’t get a correct latch and lastly the mom who may feel she has PPD to reach out and seek help, rather than continuing to isolate themselves.
Even at this moment whether some mother is holding her brand new baby, or proudly listening to her child read for the first time, or listening to her child throw a tantrum social media is there. And on it you can always find someone to relate to.
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.