Facebook and the rise of competitive parenting
Logically, I know that my life isn’t all outbursts and puke. While they probably won’t be vying for admission to an Ivy League university at age 12, the girls are smart, sweet and silly. Martha Stewart would not be impressed by culinary prowess, but my husband and kids seem to like it just fine.
When I close my laptop and leave my smartphone behind, I think I’m more satisfied with my life. It’s when I start that obsessive scrolling that my anxiety levels rise.
I don’t think this is all bad though.
As a new parent you often wonder about when your kids will hit certain milestones – you wonder about when it’s time to push them toward new skills and when to hold back. If it weren’t for my friend’s posting that picture of her daughter’s name, I might not have considered that Lily could start learning to write. And when various other moms have had to tackle potty training, it’s been a blessing to support each other and get tried-and-true tips.
Another one of my friends posted a picture of her 3-year-old daughter in the ER right after she got stitches for a tumble off the bed – having gone through a similar ordeal myself earlier this year, I immediately posted a note trying to cheer her up and remind her I’d been there.
Motherhood can be very insular and isolating. No one thanks you for doing the dishes or ensuring a plentiful supply of clean socks. There’s no day-to-day reassurance that your progeny will not grow up requiring a lifetime of therapy for all the times you yelled at them to stop yelling at you. You constantly worry about your kids – How did that eye get swollen? Is it normal that she hasn’t shown preference for one hand or the other? Is she too big or too small?
It’s no wonder that we turn to social media for reassurance and support –- and yes, sometimes to brag a little — because you don’t always get the praise that you deserve.
So instead of looking at all those updates my friend posts about her amazing feats of motherhood as an attack on my own ineptitude, I should read between the lines and recognize a kindred spirit.
Like me, she’s just another weary mom in search of a little cheerleading.
And maybe on the days I don’t feel like waving my pompoms, well, I just won’t look at Facebook.