My younger daughter,C, just celebrated her second birthday, and when she went to blow out the candles on her cookie cake, we told her to make a wish. Later on I heard E asking C what she’d wished for, and C replied sweetly, “a cookie!” I felt my heart swell with joy, first at the realization that C’s birthday wish had already come true, and second at how beautifully, perfectly easy it was to make her happy. Very small children understand what it means to be truly content. Unfortunately, most of us lose sight of that knowledge somewhere along the path to adulthood.
Anyway, I hurried to post a status update on Facebook about C’s wish. I posted it in part because it was sweet and I knew it would make my friends smile, but there was another motivation at play too, lurking just below the surface. I was proud of C’s ability to be content–as if it was something I had taught her–and I wanted the world to see what awesome kids I’m raising. If you’re a mom and you can’t recall ever doing the same thing, you’re probably in denial.
The sad truth is that we moms don’t get a lot of credit for what we do…at least, not while we’re in the trenches of early parenthood…and most of us will take some accolades any way we can get them. Facebook “likes,” make me feel like someone out there sees me, and in order to maximize likes and minimize unsolicited advice, I keep my posts positive. I didn’t tell the world, for example, about C’s antics at the zoo earlier that same day. She screamed so loudly, and for so long, she was scaring all the animals,. She also threw her special birthday lunch on the ground, in a small but mighty fit of rage. I kept those anecdotes to myself.
I don’t want to come across as incompetent, overwhelmed, or whiny on social media, despite the fact I am all those things at one point or another through out the day. So I put on my figurative mask, and I crop the literal mountains of laundry out of the background before I post a new photo of my kids. All my friends do the same, I think. Either that or they truly are on top of their game when it comes to mothering. I like to think the perfect moms in my news feed are all just playing along in this unspoken charade, presenting themselves as they wish they were rather than as they really are. Please, tell me I’m not the only one!