I think many of us have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I realize that I go through period where I wonder why I feel the need to post things and mostly it’s because FB is our connection to the bulk of our friends and family. We have family that we never see in person. We have friends scattered all over. I don’t truly like being “off the grid” where no one knows how or what we are doing. But I am very aware of the need or drive to post things like crazy. Really, Facebook is the platform for our public sharing. Before Facebook, it was showing pictures in your wallet, posting pictures or artwork all over your office, sharing photo albums with dinner guests, telling stories about your wonderful children at the water cooler, etc.
But I realize how the majority of our posts as parents and spouses are about how great things are, the achievements, the stellar moments. How many people post about the discipline calls from school? The meltdowns (well, we do post about our kids’ meltdowns, not our own meltdowns), the disagreements, the messes, etc. I see posts about perfect organization ideas, quiet wonderful family hikes, “caught being kind” awards, family reading time, awesome family vacations, sports excellence, etc. and wonder if we are falling short sometimes. That’s what happens, isn’t it? We don’t want to admit it, and we know better, but we still feel like we’re missing something when we see what everyone else is doing and mastering.
So, here’s my honesty post. I don’t want to quit Facebook but it’s almost like we need a reminder once in a great while about what’s really behind the curtain.
Decluttering pictures and organization ideas on FB look cute and awesome. I know there are cheaper options than the Container Store, but let’s be honest, my house doesn’t look like that. My house is full of clutter. I have upwards of 40 costumes all shoved into a giant canvas bag piled high in my boys’ bedroom. My kitchen table and kitchen hutch are the surfaces that get much of the mail, bills, papers from school, random pieces of toys and the occasional spare crayon and/or glue stick. No matter how many Lego “bins” we have, there are loose Legos EVERYWHERE – under the couch, in the junk drawer (or one of the several junk drawers), etc. Sometimes, it makes me nuts and I do a full-force cleaning frenzy. But 90% of the time, it just is what it is.
My perfect children
I do not believe my child is the most talented, gifted, intelligent human being on earth. I love my children to the ends of the Earth and want them to aspire to great things but I don’t have visions (maybe a better word is “expectations”) of professional sports, full college scholarships (for sports or academics) or future presidencies in my mind.
I am deeply in love with my wife and honestly think we have something really great and long-lasting. But we don’t spend every moment in total unison, telling each other how much we love each other. We have moments of being totally in the same groove and moments of focusing on other things. I believe that long-time love is a series of pathways and changes. You get to crossroads all of the time and you keep working on taking the same paths together. We sometimes argue or disagree, but are never disrespectful or hurtful. We do not have romantic dinners very often. We both work full-time. She works weekends. Our time together to focus on just us is somewhat limited. But we’re not missing out on the romantic getaways, we are making things work for us.
We have not done food shelter or major life-changing volunteerism to post about. I haven’t handed out flowers to random strangers. I want to, but we just haven’t done it. We practice small acts of kindness whenever we can, as often as we can, but we’re not good at giving up big chunks of our time together and giving back to the community. I want to. I want to focus more time and effort on that, but we just can’t right now. I can’t force that into our world but I am very aware of my kids’ view of selflessness. I want to make sure I don’t let that get away from us. My kids are working on kindness. They are 5 and 8 and they are boys. One of them has more natural empathy than the other, so we are aware of how we need to work on fostering that empathy in small steps. But I am letting go of the guilt that we are not major philanthropists right now and that this lack of giving back won’t turn my children into selfish, uncaring adults.
Lunches and crafts
Bento lunch boxes, cake pops, creative snacks, and picture perfect arts and crafts are not our style. At all. We throw random stuff in a lunch box with a thermos of water. My kids have some paper and crayons and playdoh and they can just do whatever they want with it. I don’t make project ideas, I just let them draw. And my craft storage area is a Rubbermaid drawer set that is totally disorganized with stuff shoved in, but the boys know where to find stuff.
Both of my boys now have iPads. We let them have some iPad time in the morning (after they are 100% ready for school) and some electronic time in the afternoon. I know what they are playing and watching and have some “meaner than other mom” rules (according to my 8 yr old) about content. But there may be many times where my kids could be doing something creative or thoughtful on a rainy afternoon and they are watching YouTube videos on Minecraft instead.
I pay more attention to chemicals and crap than ever before. But I’m so far from perfect. My kids still eat Kraft Mac n’ Cheese from time to time, once in a while, my in-laws take them to McDonald’s or Wendy’s. I’ve done waffles for dinner. They don’t eat too many vegetables but we do try to make up for it in fruit. I know we’d be criticized by some moms for not forcing vegetables or allowing some of the food in the house that we do, but we do practice moderation, for what it’s worth.
Love and connection
Before I had kids, I thought I could have these well-controlled, well-behaved, thoughtful, excellent little beings that loved to spend every moment with their mommies, loving to read and spend lots of time in nature, would meditate with me, would be the nicest, sweetest, hardest working kids they could be while also being fully connected to the family and full of love at every moment.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Seriously. Maybe there are kids and parents out there who have mastered all of this. I haven’t mastered any of it. But that’s where the true presence of mind and gratitude creeps in:
We are healthy.
We are a content family together.
We have 2 sweet little boys who have more awesome moments than the not-so-awesome ones.
We have connection to each other that can’t be broken.
We have good education and warm homes.
We have jobs and supportive family.
We have so much that I can’t imagine continuing to feel inadequate about what we’re doing wrong or not doing at all compared to other moms on Facebook.
As far as the moms that are doing great and posting the great things on Facebook, keep on keeping on. I will continue to post the great moments to share with my friends and family. But you all now know that it is just what it is, snapshots of the good stuff!
We can brag and show off but we know what our own realities are too! And the other moms reading all of these posts can remind ourselves that we have our own moments that can appear perfect to someone else as well.