Monday, August 24, 2015

Keeping it real

I don't want my kids telling tales in school about our nutty little family. I want to be sure that courtesy is extended to them. That is why I took a break from blogging: I was trying to figure out how to best preserve my children's privacy while still keeping it real.

Of course, you still need to know that my household resembles a frat house most days and my children are a hot mess much of the time. The stories that have fallen away are mainly the ones about bodily fluids and behaviors that are considered abnormal for a child's age. (But if you're struggling with an older child who has issues, by all means, private message me and I will spill all!)

We all know and are constantly chided about the dangers of posting about our children on social media. Done correctly, posting about your children is nothing more than a way to keep family and friends up to date and to keep it real with people you trust. All that's required to keep yourself safe online is common sense and judicial use of privacy settings.

Lately, however, I've been hearing criticism and advice regarding how parents talk about their children online. Common parental sentiments that I've seen come under fire include being relieved that kids are back in school, overwhelmed by children's needs, and a bit sad about them growing up.

One writer asked whether teens who see these kinds of posts might wonder if their mothers feel the same way. What are they picking up from what we write, she wondered?

Here's what I hope they pick up from such posts:

Parenting is hard work. Parents deserve to feel overwhelmed, relieved, frustrated, and even sad. Parents always love you but don't always have loving feelings toward you.
Children of a certain age deserve to know to a certain extent that these feelings exist. Children deserve to not be the center of the universe and have ever-happy parents circling about them.

I want my children to have a realistic picture of what parenthood is and what it isn't. So what if they know that sometimes mommy needs a break? I'd rather they see me as a balanced human being who models self-care than as someone who was always in a good mood no matter what. That is an unrealistic ideal that they may try to live up to as parents. They need people around them who experience negative feelings openly and deal with them appropriately. My go-to for venting tends to be sharing frustrations in a humorous way. Consequently, my children are fluent in sarcasm and hyperbole. Some people are neither fluent nor amused by these things. I am not responsible for how you react to what I say.

If you're seeing a post about an unpleasant scene in my house, it's because I trust you not to judge and believe that you need to know you're not alone. Those friends of mine on social media are MY friends. Handpicked and grouped by whom I think would like to hear what. I have mom friends and fitness friends and professional friends and some others. I tailor my messages so that a mom friend in the weeds of early childhood doesn't have to hear about my fitness feats or my professional friends don't have to hear gross kid stories. And we all hide things from relatives, don't we? The last thing I need as a parent, or, heck, a human being is to suppress my feelings.

There is an ever growing list of criticisms of parents coming from all directions and most often from other moms.

Don't be sad they're growing up.

Don't dance and sing because they're back at school.

Don't share negative feelings about your kids with your friends on social media.

How about this for a don't?

Don't tell others how to experience parenthood.

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