Hip Advice for Facebook Faux-Pas
We all know the perils of parenting a child in the Brave New Online World, don’t we? We know to monitor our children’s online whereabouts, know their passwords, study their Instagram friends, assiduously review their browser history, and read their texts to be aware of any horrifying “sexting.” Well of course! What good mama doesn’t spy relentlessly on her children? Any claims to privacy can be revisited when you are not scrubbing the skidmarks out of your offspring’s underwear.
But! But! Has anyone considered the perilous existence for moms online? Mamas, it’s a jungle out there! Specifically, if you are feeling at all fragile, your Facebook feed might send you scrounging for some vodka to pour into your 10 a.m. coffee mug. Now, of course, most of the little blurbs and pictures you see are mommas sharing their legitimate, well-deserved pride and happiness. What mom doesn’t merit a bit of well-deserved crowing? After all, we don’t get Oscars, raises, or really any recognition whatsoever, so Facebook is fabulous for a little self-congratulatory kudos. But seeing a whole bunch of happy bragging — all at once — when you’re home feeling sluggish, wearing yoga pants smeared with Pop Tart guts, and are nursing a sore throat from yelling too much over your 12-year-old’s neglected chores, can be soul-crushing.
But, no worries! Here are proven antidotes to five of the most annoying Facebook status updates by moms (and – full disclo
sure – I’m as guilty of these posts as any of us mommies):
The mommy getaway post: I wholeheartedly support the theory that every mom needs a little annual leave, if at all possible. A night away, even aweekend, to sleep in a bed with no 4-year-old passionately embracing her neck at 2 a.m., no midnight water runs or night feedings to sludge through, no 6 a.m. wake-up calls, no refereeing the “how many more bites until I can have dessert” summit…..bliss, right? But sometimes there are times when you just can’t get away. Your husband’s work is too demanding; you have a newborn; the kids’ schedules are too busy; finances are too tight; no one in his or her right mind will watch your little monsters… There are myriad reasons why you can’t escape on a little getaway. This trying, intense period, of course, coincides to a time in your Facebook feed where apparently every mama you know is in Cancun quaffing margaritas on the beach, or smothered in an algae mask at a spa retreat in Sedona, or partying with her college friends in New York City, while you’re covered in pureed peas and fighting over Spanish homework.
The antidote: Call a good friend who is also Tulsa-bound over for happy hour, stat. Make up a tropical drink, preferably something with pineapple juice and coconut rum. Stick an umbrella in your drink if at all possible. Go outside where your location is indeterminate, toast your friend, and post a selfie: “Drinks al fresco!” You’ll look like you’re on a tropical vacation, having a blast. Which you are! Now go inside, hop online, and use all that airfare and hotel money you saved on an excellent pair of new shoes. Explain to your husband how much money you’ve saved him when he questions yet another shoe purchase. Win-win!
The my-husband-is-awesome post: “Thank you to my AMAZING hubby for the Garth Brooks tickets for me and my 10 besties,” “Look at the fabulous orchids my husband sent FOR NO REASON!”, “Hubs surprised me with dinner at Juniper! He’s the BEST!” or “My guy insisted I get off to the spa for the WHOLE DAY JUST BECAUSE!”..bleccccccccccccccccch. You know your husband loves you more than a nice, thick, juicy steak, but lately he’s been so busy with work, soccer tournaments, and dealing with his monstrous progeny that he hasn’t had time to notice your haircut or your hard work or your awesome mothering prowess.
The antidote: You have to take matters into your own hands here, ladies. Hire a sitter, text your guy to meet you after work at your favorite hot spot, and take that picture while you’re canoodling over beverages: “Hubs insisted on a kid-free night…I’m a lucky girl!” Close enough, right?
The “My Kid Does the Most Amazing Crafts and/or Projects”: Have you noticed that a lot of first graders are actually 30-somethings with degrees in graphic design? Some of the crafts and treats these little ones do are simply mind blowing. Look at that picture of treats for the school party: a professionally printed baggy with the little girl’s picture on it, filled with chocolates, bubbles…and is that a homemade SACHET? “Lucy just had a blast making treats for her friends this year!” Oh man! You can’t even read my kids’ handwriting most of the time. Or what about that project where your first grader is supposed to fashion an ancestor-doll made out of clothespins? A sweet little 6-year-old made that little figurine, complete with an embroidered dress and muff that looks like you could buy it at the Disney World gift shop? How can us craft-impaired moms compete?
The antidote: Post a picture of yourself lounging poolside (I don’t care if it’s cold, just do it) with the latest Vogue sprawled over your tummy. Here is your caption: “I may not be able to help my kids with their projects, but at least I know how to relax!”
The Minute-by-Minute Mommy: “Here is Coco eating breakfast!” “Look at our little girl sleeping with the puppy – so cute!” “Here she is eating Goldfish – such talent!” “Wow she is so good at going down the slide!” “PJ time – sleepy girl!” AAAAAAAAH. Yes, your child is adorable, and each moment is infused with the sense that this precious time is fleeting. But consider maybe sharing these darling hour-by-hour moments just with your mom and your sister and other flesh and blood, lest other people feel like their Facebook feed is starting to feel like a nanny cam.
The antidote: Post pictures of your own children fairly rarely, and preferably doing something rather unique, like learning to unicycle, or piloting a plane, or feeding a rhinoceros on an African safari. Big milestones are good too: being born, graduating, winning the Heisman, launching their first start-up. You will find your friends are genuinely intrigued with your children when they don’t feel like they are raising them. Cultivating a little mystique is a good thing!
The “My Child Is So Charitable” post: “Look at my darling Amabella who wanted to help serve the homeless in the soup kitchen!”; “Ethan is busy raising money for cancer research at his bake sale – love his servant’s heart!” Well, hmmm. Now, I am all for encouraging your children in philanthropic activities and modeling charitable and altruistic behavior yourself. Of course we want to raise children who are kind members of society who see — and empathize with — the world beyond their booger-encrusted noses. And these posts certainly inspire some of us lazy moms (um, me) to think about whether they’re doing enough to model charitable behavior for our monkeys. But most children start out as selfish little stinkers, and I find it hard to swallow that your child has taken the initiative here, without some bribery and/or heavy “suggestions” from mama.
The antidote: Please, do go ahead and volunteer with your children at the homeless shelter, or the hospital; help out at your church or write letters to veterans. Whatever cause you are passionate about, let your children see you, see your fervor, and participate right along with you. But maybe don’t post it on Facebook. After all, didn’t Some Guy say when you give to the needy, to do so quietly, and not advertise it to a big old audience…?
What? What’s that you say? Get OFF FACEBOOK? Oh, um, that’s a good idea. But what’s the fun in THAT?