Earlier today, I read an interesting response to a series of articles about how we as parents are lying by omission on Facebook, leaving out the ugly aspects of parenting, home keeping, etc. that might make us look like don’t have it all together.
I can honestly say I try to post the good, bad, and ugly – giving my family and friends a taste of my every day “real” life. However, I have had several people in the last few weeks comment about how I have it all together – parenting, working, blogging, housekeeping – and it is just not true. Hubs and I often say we are in survival mode, living minute to minute and putting out fires as they arise. We do well managing work because as professors we have some flexibility on when we get our work done – my students don’t care if I grade papers at 3 AM as long as I get them done in a timely fashion. And as far as housekeeping, we have two amazing, kind women who help us with cleaning – and we owe part of the success of our marriage to the stress they take away from us by tackling the major cleaning tasks in our home.
As for parenting, it amazes me that anyone would think I have it together. In my head I imagined my Facebook posts captured the dichotomy between the highs and the lows of us as parents. But, as I revisit some of my recent posts, I can see how maybe the intent of my message could be misinterpreted:
The “My Kid Should Be Napping” Post
Reading to “guys”. #boymom
I should have expressed more clearly in my status update that I was annoyed my 2 year old was not napping, and that I was not trying to pretend he was a boy genius because he was reading to creepy, plastic figurines.
The “I Feel Like The Good Year Blimp” Post
To the child in the preschool line today who asked if I had a baby in my tummy, thanks for your concern. #MustExercise #orcry
In this status update, I was going for the “funny thing happened at school today” approach, but judging by my friends’ responses about how I look fine or how I just had a baby, I think it might have been interpreted as “I feel overweight and my feelings were hurt by a 5 year old.”
The “Situation Every Parent Dreads” Post
Parent teacher conferences: the act of sitting across from a teacher you highly respect praying she doesn’t bring up your son’s fascination with potty language.
Here I express the nervous feelings I have being on the other side of the school conference table, yet somehow it is still might have been interpreted as my boasting about having a great kid.
The “I’m Incompetent at Choosing Appropriate Clothes for My Child” Post
I’d cry too if my mom made me wear this get-up. #onesiewithPocket #How2LookLikeASausage
Apparently my family and friends thought Iggy’s crying was cute. Wrong message yet again.
The “Oh Look, We Had a Good Parenting Moment” Post
Stop motion ice day fun inspired by #theLEGOmovie
This one was interpreted correctly.
The “My Son is Funny” Post
Conversations with [Little Guy]…
[Little Guy]: Mommy, I don’t like your hair.
Me: Why not?
[Little Guy]: Your hair makes bad choices.
Me: Yes it does, son. Yes it does.
This post got the intended chuckles.
The “OMG, I Live in A House of Horrors” Post
A glass half full perspective: Our recent mouse invasion is probably a sign that we have the snake problem under control. #ruralburbliving #ilikemywildlifeoutside
This post got the intended “Ewww, yuck” responses.
The “Parenting Conversation Gone Wrong” Post
Hubs’ conversation on stranger danger with Buddy: “So if someone in a car offers you candy and asks you to get in their car, what do you do?”
Buddy: “I don’t do it.”
Hubs: “well, what if someone in a car offers you shrimp …”
Buddy: “Ohhhh…I REALLY like shrimp!”
In this update, I was poking fun at my husband for bringing up shrimp as the stranger bribe, but it became a conversation about the weird things bribes kids will accept.
I don’t think that there the majority of social media users are trying to trick their readers, family, and friends that they are living the perfect life. I see lots of imperfections shared on a daily basis. However, I do see that we might need to look more closely at the multiple ways that our posts might be interpreted…especially for those of us raised in a generation where it is more common to communicate via email or social media than by phone. Heck, if I receive a phone call from a friend, I can usually safely assume one of three things: (1) someone is getting married/divorced, (2) someone is pregnant, or (3) someone needs something from me – usually educational advice.
I’ll do my best moving forward in my own social media use to try to share snippets that capture my real life in the trenches of raising young boys…however, maybe the responsibility is for us to “dig deeper” as we interpret other’s messages, acknowledging no one has it “all together” and that there is a lot more to what our family and friends are sharing than what we see on the surface.