I am deeply grateful that the Internet and social media didn’t exist when I was growing up. There is no way that middle school (or high school or college) me could have handled the competitive pressures or the time management discipline, and refrain from making a lasting fool of myself. I am a fairly confident adult and I still have a hard time with those three things.
Let’s take Facebook’s (or Pinterest, gah!) false portrayal of perfection for example. How many ‘friends’ do you have who post a constant stream of photos of their clean smiling children? How many of those children do you think spend a great deal of time being grubby little assholes? Probably 98%. (I’m excusing newborns here. They’re dirty, but not assholes. Well, maybe I’m just far enough removed that I’m forgetting. I probably thought my newborns were assholes, because I’m that kind of mom.) These friends post pictures at pumpkin patches, apple orchards, beaches, on boats, on top of mountains, etc. I post these too. Taken at face value, it would seem that our lives are consistently full of happy and wholesome family outings. We are enriching our children’s lives and they are enriching our lives right back.
In between those smiling moments are thousands of other moments which go undocumented on Facebook. I know that other families have those thousands of other moments too, but still… look at that two-year-old who just hiked up that mountain! My kids would have made that hike miserable. Look at those kids with that sand castle. Wait, it’s Monday. How are they at the beach? Their life is so much better than mine. The only sand we’ve got going on is the stuff that is inexplicably always in the corners of my son’s pockets.
Oh, did you make organic kale and fish oil non-dairy but also non-soy smoothies that your kids just can’t get enough of? Me too. Except I actually mean that I gave them a glass of milk and some goldfish. And they complained because I gave them the wrong cup and she got 2 more fish and that’s not fair and I’m the worst mom and they wanted juice anyway. Consider yourself lucky that I’m not making fish oil smoothies!
We all want to share our best moments. We all want that person we knew 22 years ago and haven’t seen since to think that we are living the life. We aren’t bored. We haven’t watched 13 hours of TV today. Our kids are as charming as they are cute so I’m never, ever jealous of your child-free globe-trotting life. The world can wait! Right now I’m doing the most important and fulfilling job a person can. Oh, and that one picture of me that I’ve posted within the last three years? That old thing? Gosh, I think the kids must have snapped that one while I was composting our garden. Yes I do that in silk and heels. Duh.
I’m as guilty as the next guy here. Well, sort of. While I fully admit to having those thousands of ordinary-to-shitty moments in between the idyllic pumpkin patch smiles and apple cobbler recipes, I still post those pictures. For some reason, it’s important for people to know that once in a while I do make it to the pumpkin patch. Sure, this weekend we got to the farm’s gate and turned the car around because the kids were acting like shitheads and my husband and I might be too tempted to lose them in the corn maze forever. (Hey, we’re nothing if not responsible parents. It’s NOT a good idea to enter a maze with kids when running away and changing your identity is even on the table of your subconscious.) In between our thousands of other moments, sometimes we do make it to the farm, zoo, fair, or ocean. We might even make it to the top of the mountain and once we wipe the snot off their faces, you can’t even tell that they’ve been crying for 2 hours, so we snap our pictures and post them to Facebook.
See that, Kid I Barely Remember from High School? I’ll see your mountain top kids and raise you the 10K I ran* and my family frolicking in the fallen orange leaves. I win Facebook! Oh, shit, that girl from that job lost 40 lbs and she owes it all to the support of the love of her life and her four beautiful children. Damn my inability to say “love of my life” without throwing up in my mouth a little and my unsupportive kids and my complete panic at the mere thought of having four of them! I suck. I lose Facebook. You win this time, Random Person, but I have the urge to make food shaped like something creative and adorable**, so watch out!
*I did not run a 10K
**I do not have the urge to make food shaped like something creative and adorable