I have seen it too many times online, and in every instance, it breaks my heart. Daily, mothers are tempted by social media posts that lead them to believe that what they are doing isn’t enough. They take to the airwaves of Facebook and Instagram to proclaim their defense on the parenting choices they have made.
It makes me want to wave a virtual flag of empathy: “You do you, Mama!”
I have to admit, I have been there.
I have a five-year-old boy that has autism. In the early stages of his diagnosis, I was navigating uncharted waters. I was afraid of being judged by other parents on how I was approaching our new special needs world and I constantly felt insecure. Because I was seeing those same picture-perfect posts, you can bet I found myself questioning my own parenting choices on occasion!
The Temptation of Social Media
Now, I don’t want to go into a complete rant here. I simply want to point out the temptation of the not-so-quite-reality of Facebook, Instagram, or any other platform where we see the highlights of others’ lives. These are snapshots of the good moments. Sometimes I think, “These people really have their lives together!”
If a mama is struggling in any area of parenting, you can be sure that there will be a social media post that will cause her to fall into the rabbit hole of comparison. She will scroll through pristine pictures of immaculate and tidy houses that will scare her. Fear pricks her heart because she looks at those posts and then looks at her endlessly messy house and wonders if what she is doing wrong. Yet, she forgets that she has a newborn, a toddler, and a preteen at home. The photo steals the joy of the moments just before when the blanket fort was built and plastic blocks were dumped out while sounds of giggles filled the air.
If your children are happy and healthy, that’s what matters. Just because there are dishes in the sink and your curtains are falling down (because your toddler found his new favorite hiding place for hide-and-go-seek) doesn’t make you less than perfect. You are the perfect mother for your children. Plus, whoever said perfection was the goal here? It’s not. Let’s rewrite the rules and meet each other in the middle of our mess. Quit pretending we have it together on Facebook and visit that mom struggling to find value in her mothering days. Better yet, invite her over to see the chaos in your own home to give her perspective. Really: we are all in this together.
What’s the Best Method?
A friend from high school recently posted birthday photos of her youngest son. She had six or seven pictures of him sitting on their kitchen counter with a store-bought cake. She included a caption that directed the viewer’s attention to the fact that her kitchen was a mess. All I saw was a cute, little blond-haired four-year-old with a cheese-eating grin on his face. A bit later she shared again. Her husband had asked her if they were bad parents for not having a big shindig. In the post, she was clearly defending their choice and giving the many reasons why big birthdays just weren’t their thing.
I loved the fact that she was choosing the best parenting method for her children. However, I couldn’t let go of the idea that she felt like she had to defend what she was doing or not doing—but I completely understood where she was coming from because of our family’s experiences with our youngest son.
That same mama that bought her son a Kroger cake and had a small party in their kitchen was busy the next day creating movie-themed costumes for their family—something they look forward to every year.
You see, it’s not about who’s getting it right. It’s about showing up and deciding what works for your family. Stressing yourself out trying to make your grass greener or your house fancier or your parties bigger and better is only stressing out your family too.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with appreciating nice things, but a maxed out credit card and alienated parents exhausting themselves to keep up with what they are seeing in their social media newsfeed is not the best method.
Create breathing room in your life based on your budget and your children’s unique personalities. Start by discovering your child’s love language. Complete the short quiz to help you better understand how they are wired and to really hone in on what speaks to their heart. You may be surprised at just how little time, energy, and money it takes to bring a smile to their face.
Once you have the foundational tools you need, you will be empowered to take hold of your schedule in a new way—a better way—that will make everyone happy based on your family’s reality.
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: You Are “Mom Enough”: How to Stop Feeling Like a Failure – 017!