Recently, my sister purchased a bear onesie for my daughter. When I say a bear onesie, I mean she becomes a bear. I didn’t know I had the ability to feel such unadulterated elation.
Before I had a child, I always said, “I will never dress her in real clothes. I will put her in ONLY animal costumes.” As a mother, a wife, and a go-getter, I failed myself. I had failed to put my daughter in any animal costume. Obviously, I’m a horrible mom. Then, my sister, my wonderful, beautiful, hilarious sister, bought her exactly what I’ve been looking for: a bear costume.
My daughter looks so cute, crawling around and growling like a bear. She’s the cutest f-ing thing I’ve ever seen my life. Because I’m a proud millennial, I posted the picture on Instagram and Facebook. I would have tweeted it, but honestly, I’m just too verbose. It took me a like 700 words to explain how I pack a diaper bag. So, I posted a picture with the tag: “You guys! There’s a real bear problem in Virginia!” (I was visiting Virginia at the time).
Most of my responses were laughs, comments about how cute she is, and sarcastic, “Oh no! What a terrifying bear!” But then, I received a PM.
You see, here’s the thing. Social media is for friends and close family, sure, but also people whom you’ve met once or twice, and obligations you have to include in your lives in order to avoid awkward encounters. Of course, there are also acquaintances you don’t really talk to, but kind of talk to, but when they do talk to you, it’s always about how your parenting style sucks. Ah, there we are. Social media.
My messenger dinged. I got super excited. Because I’m basically like a teenager with no friends. So, whenever I get a message, I immediately go back to the creepy middle-schooler with a bowl-cut who was getting asked to hang out by the popular girls.
“Hi.” One. Word. This could be dramatic.
“I don’t know if you remember me, but we met at LaLuna Bar one night.” (It’s not called LaLuna bar, I just think that would be a cool name). “I just wanted to tell you that I think it’s INSANE that you would put your baby daughter in a BEAR COSTUME in THIS HEAT. How DARE YOU subject her to this for the sake of a PICTURE! HAVEN’T YOU HEARD OF HEAT STROKE!”
All of the high expectations I had for a new friend were shattered.
“Oh, hello. Yes, I do remember you. I appreciate your concern, but we kept her in the house (where it’s air conditioned). We took it off after about five minutes. She’s fine. All is well. Except for the honey. She ate all the honey.”
“YOU CAN’T GIVE A BABY HONEY! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT?”
“No, I know…it’s just that she’s dressed as a bear…so, honey? It was a joke.”
“LIKE KEEPING YOUR BABY IN THAT HOT BOX?”
“Yeah. Like that.”
The thing is, I knew she was fine. I would never ever put my child in harm’s way. I hate that I felt the need to defend myself to this person. She was basically a stranger. She doesn’t know me, and what do I care what she thinks of me?
Let’s talk about attacks from strangers. Recently, someone posted my blog about a negative encounter with a babysitter on reddit (thanks, btw!). One mom wrote, “She clearly has a lot of mom guilt. Her entire blog is about how she can’t deal with others. Get over it.” This hit me. I was really angry that this person didn’t understand that the point of my blog is just that, that moms shouldn’t feel this mom guilt. I got angry that this mom didn’t understand me. Then I laughed because this stranger mom and my feelings about her proved why I write this blog– stop the unnecessary judgement. Stop making moms feel guilty for trivialities.
Social media is great because it allows me to post things about my life that my family and friends who don’t get to see me often can see, all in one stop. I love when my father leaves clever witticisms on my Facebook (he’ll probably comment on this blog saying a clever witticism is redundant).
Even though it connects us, I feel like social media has this hold on us where we need to present the best sides of us. I can’t post that I’m having a bad day or people will thing that I’m looking for sympathy. I can’t only post that I’m having a good day because they’ll think I’m rubbing it in their faces or I’m “hiding” something. (Yeah, I’m hiding my hatred for you.) I can’t post cute pictures of my baby without someone saying something horrible about her.
So, here’s my advice, from one “horrible” mom to you: post whatever you feel like. If you think a picture is cute or funny, post it. Seriously, as long as your kid is actually safe, post it. Post when you’re tired. Post when you need sympathy. Post when you had a freaking awesome day and want to brag. You’re entitled to your own social media. You’re entitled to have good and bad days.
Most importantly, you’re entitled to dress your kid up in a freaking bear costume.