Being a Mom in the era of social media can be a mixed bag. Everywhere you turn, someone is pointing their avocado at you. On the flip side, Pinterest perfect birthday parties and so called “sanctimommies” are often balanced out by breastfeeding support and cloth diapering help. I wouldn’t have made it through breastfeeding my first child without the advice of an online group and KellyMom.
Lately, I’ve been dealing with my third child, deep in the throes of the “threenager” year(s) and I found an unexpected benefit of social media. Sometimes people make rude remarks about moms taking a photo of a mess and posting it online, or capturing their child in a precarious position seconds before rescuing him/her. I’m finding that social media helps me see the humor in a situation when I’m thisclose to losing my mind. Other moms sharing their similar stories makes me feel not so alone in my imperfection
— Maria (@chgdiapers) March 29, 2015
In hindsight, I wish I had grabbed my phone and Tweeted this immediately (I don’t carry my phone with me at home), rather than muttering to myself as I attempted to mop it up with old burp cloths, trying to figure out when exactly he’d managed to do this, and why I was so stupid to have this stuff in his dresser drawer.
I wish I’d had Twitter or Instagram in 2007 when my then 2-year old daughter tried to “help clean up” her paint in the 3 minutes I was 10 feet away in the laundry room, resulting in a gigantic mess. Or when I was picking up the grapes she’d thrown on the floor and she found a pen and colored all over our beige leather couch (which you can see below, in all its 14 year old, ripped glory). It’s easy to see the humor in hindsight, but in the moment it’s much more difficult.
Ideally I could snap my fingers and turn myself from “type A” to laid back, but it isn’t that easy. I’ve relaxed a lot in the past 10 years but I still find myself very wrapped up in moments that don’t matter, getting incredibly stressed and frustrated.
Whether or not I actually Tweet or Instagram something, I’m going to start thinking of moments in the context of how I’d frame them as a post after the fact, and attempt to see the humor right now.
This helped me see the memory we were making instead of the mess:
Maybe this would have helped me last Monday when I’d been on my own with the kids for 4 days/nights at the time (with 1-2 more days left), and our evening gymnastics class was going from bad to worse. It’s during my 3 year old’s “witching hour” when he is exhausted, miserable and disagreeable. As soon as we got there I was greeted with arguments and raised voices over the remainder of the snacks I’d packed, and while I was grabbing a piece of trash dropped outside the car, he bolted across the parking lot. When we made it inside (all in one piece thankfully) I got many side eyes because my 5-year old was happily playing on his iPad (don’t care, get over it people).
My 3-year old likes to watch his sister with me, but to make a very long story short(er) he had a tantrum. I ended up scooping up my purse, phone, our 3 coats and his shoes and carrying him while ushering my older son down the stairs among awful glares from everyone in the viewing area. I also realize after the fact that a lot of my interpretations of the goings-on are colored by my frustration and embarrassment. Maybe if I had been having a better day I wouldn’t have taken things so personally.
We ended up standing outside for the remainder of the (hour and a half) class. One woman in the lobby on my way out smiled and said “One of those days, huh?” I can’t tell you how grateful I was for those 5 words. Those 5 words translated as “bad moments don’t make bad mamas” and gave me a boost of strength and patience to get through this.
I think if I’d taken 15 seconds to post it on social media while I was in the thick of things, I might have been able to see the humor and realize that it was just a tiny moment in our lives.
So Dear Mom on the iPhone, perhaps that little piece of technology is what’s allowing you to hang on to your sanity at this moment. I get it. I do.