My finger scrolls through the feed in a robotic motion as my eyes scan the beautifully captured moments of perfect strangers lives. I am flooded with so many emotions as I try and wrap my head around what I am even doing? Why do I follow these people on social media? What would happen if I didn’t look or didn’t post for a whole week? Who would even miss me? Why do I do this to myself?
I stop at a picture of an infant peacefully sleeping in a “dock-a-tot” on the desk,of clearly the most organized and put together women I have NEVER met! “She must have it all together” I think as I gaze at the sunlight so perfectly captured in her office window. I am obviously missing something, if after 5 years of being a mother I have yet to experience this kind of blissful moment. I take a few minutes to sulk and complain and play the “woe is me” card. Then, as I always do, I give myself a slap in the face.
Sometimes, it is not about what you can see in the picture, it is about what you DO NOT see. You don’t see her face. Those tired eyes and disheveled hair are not featured. You don’t see her kitchen counters that could be covered in dishes from last nights dinner or a floor that is covered in coffee grounds, that spilled after missing the coffee maker because her eyes were half closed from being so sleep deprived. She could totally be rocking this mother hood thing and be some sort of super human who has it all together. Or she could have perfectly designed this shot to show the beauty in motherhood without stopping to think that maybe this is an unrealistic moment that isn’t attainable for the average, or above average human being.
My 5 year old son absolutely loves skating. My almost 4 year old daughter considers it torture. Of course, I didn’t realize this until I had signed her up for 10 lessons with a no refund policy and the stubborn person in me is making her see it to the end. WE ARE NOT QUITTERS! (I may sing a different tune if I have to watch her cry the whole time again next week.) As I sat on the side lines praying that my sweet girl would find some joy and peace in between the tears pouring down her cheeks, a fellow bench dweller beside me graciously distracted me with a question. This mom, while holding her 15 month old daughter, asked me if my children were twins? I giggled and politely explained that they are 16 months apart and our conversation continued from there. She asked me if it was “hard when they were little?” and I go on to explain that it has been the hardest thing I have ever physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally done in my whole life. (and I have hiked the grand canyon and ran a few half marathons.)
I see the look of relief wash over her face, as if I just allowed her the right to feel the same overwhelming feeling about motherhood. She went on to tell me that she had been struggling with everything that had to do with motherhood and was finding no support anywhere. Her own mother only remembered the calm and joyful parts of parenting, her friends all only had either one really good sleeper or no kids at all, and social media was making her feel like a failure.
What an interesting world we are living in. Are we creating an environment that is leaving space for imperfection? I recently have been told that in order to create change you need to start pin pointing the problems and start asking questions concerning changing them, and then start answering those questions. I have been thinking lately about this topic of Early Motherhood. I would consider myself still “IN IT” but not a “newby” anymore. Does that make me a mature young mom?
My children are 4 and 5 and I am slowly remembering what “ME” time is and I have felt the sweet relief of a full nights sleep. I have recently even experienced boredom. An example of this new stage of motherhood is that as I work on this very blog post, I am sitting at a kids play place drinking my over priced coffee as my children play on the equipment ALONE!! They still check in every once and while to make sure I don’t forget I am a mom, but for the most part I am being left alone. I am having a moment I only dreamed about when my two tykes were 1 and 2 years old.
Those pictures on Social Media are beautiful and sweet but are they really doing anyone any good? Social Media is a great outlet for sharing your artistic and creative side with the world but I believe it shouldn’t be our only outlet to do so. Join women’s groups, join mommy groups, join a gym, get involved in the community center or your local church and find like minded women who are walking a similar path as you. Share your heart and your gifts with others. Community is where we find our strength and where we find our support during our weakness. Use the social media to find social face to face encounters. My new friend at my sons skating lessons only found connection and confidence in her own mothering when she reached out and talked to someone walking the same road. Now we talk and laugh and hand out snacks two mornings a week and I am always welcomed with a beautiful smile. Sisterhood in Motherhood.
My sister and I sat down a few nights ago and were talking about motherhood and all the joys and anguish it brings. We were discussing how she is in the chaotic stage of parenting and I am in more of the organized chaos stage. My Niece and Nephew are 1 and 3 and my own children are 4 and 5. She can not get a moment of peace when her children are awake, as she has to be monitoring them and ensuring their safety at all hours of the day. My children, on the other hand, although they are still young, they are way more independent and less physically draining than my niece and nephew. My children sleep through the night and even wake on their own if they need to pee. There are the occasional bad dreams or blankets that need to be re-tucked, but for the most part, we have moved on from the early stages of toddler-hood and motherhood and are not experiencing the beautiful stage of Childhood.
I have been thinking a lot about this post for a while now and as I go about my days this very topic comes up over and over again in my conversations with fellow mamas that I meet. Social Media and Motherhood. How do we find a balance? How do we use it to benefit our lives and not just sap our joy or make us feel inadequate as human beings? I believe there is a balance that can be reached, I am still trying to figure out what that looks like. I have been feeling these invisible pressures lately to be the very best at all that I do. Being a parent, chef, house cleaner, friend, daughter, wife, volunteer, even with my relationship with God. All these area’s of my life don’t even cover the pressures that I find when i start comparing myself to others around me via Instagram or Facebook.
So, now that I have unloaded this all on my poor readers what am I going to leave you with? What words of wisdom or comfort am I going to encourage you with as you go about your days? How am I going to reward you for making it through this very long winded post of a rambling mother? Well here is what I have found to work.
Make a date with a friend who gets you. Some one who can distract you from all the necessary and unnecessary aspects of your life. Do something that is life giving. Something that makes you happy, excited, and inspired. For me this looks like grabbing a friend and going for a walk and talking, then going for appetizers or dessert. I just love getting fresh air and I also love food. I find I am more relaxed after a one on one time with a friend then with a group of people.
Second, Please be aware of who you follow on social media. Do they leave you feeling inspired or frustrated? Do you look at their pictures or posts and feel jealous and defeated or encouraged and at peace. Fill your feed with encouragement and joy. Beautiful pictures are wonderful for the eyes but are they lifting up your soul? I personally love following people who have gorgeous photos with hilarious stories written in the captions. Real stories of the people behind them. I love looking at honest people who are bravely sharing their stories with no apologies.
What do you find important when you pick someone to follow? Where do you find your head drifting when you scroll through your social media pages? Sometimes it is good for the soul to do a “social media heart check”. Surround yourself with real people. People who lift you up and fill your heart with confidence and joy and most of all the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.