Friday, October 8, 2010

My Addiction

I have a friend, who as a teacher, had the summer off with her kids. At the beginning of the summer she posted, on Facebook, a picture of her kids on the beach and labeled it, “Day 1 @ "Beautiful' Beach!” in her photo album titled “69 Days of Summer 2010.” As the summer progressed she posted pictures of fun activities such as Water Country (twice), bowling, Chuck E. Cheese, parades, snow cones, fireworks on a boat, Mediterranean Cruise, and well, you get the picture. All the while, I was doing my best just to get through the hot summer days without major incidents.

This isn’t the first time that a friend’s post on Facebook has made me feel less than adequate. Much like I used to feel when I was growing up and I would read YM with all those perfect girls who had great hair, gorgeous skin and skinny legs, I was feeling imperfect all over again. Except now it was bigger and worse somehow. When it was just me, the only one I had let down by not being perfect was myself. But now, I had a whole family to let down. Not to mention what all the other moms would think if they knew that I wasn’t as perfect as they were. There were pictures of fun family vacations, while mine turned out to be a disaster. Of course I would still try to get one or two “perfect” pictures to post on my own page so everyone could see just how great my family was too. But still I didn’t get it.

Then, one day, I told my teacher friend how great of a mom she was and terrible I was to not have done such great things with my kids. She laughed out loud and said that they were only a handful of days and all the other crap that happened over the summer didn’t make her profile. And so I laughed too. What I slowly started realizing is that most people try to paint the rosy picture of their lives that they show you on Facebook. No one wants you to know that their life is crap 90 percent of the time. Every now and then you will see a post of a mom complaining that she is serious need of a glass of wine. But you will almost never see one that talks about the terrible fight she had with her husband last night and how she almost threw him out. Instead, you will see her post her wedding picture and thank the most wonderful man in the world for ten years of wedded bliss.

I am pretty sure I am not the only mom out there who has faced Facebook depression. The problem with this type of social site is, although it is public (for the most part), most people treat it as a private little scrapbook. People talk about how great their girls’ night out was, while others see that and realize they weren’t invited. It’s worse than high school when you only knew about the snubs and ‘perfect’ people for a couple hours a day. Now, 24 hours a day, you can log on and feel inferior.

And then there is the creepy, Facebook stalker syndrome. Okay, I know you have been there. This is where someone (maybe you) feels like they know you simply because they are a friend of your friend. I have seen it happen personally when with a friend at the mall, I ran into another friend and introduced the two only to have one of them make a comment about how she knows who she is because she sees her picture all the time on Facebook. Another time a friend of mine made an update that she was headed to the Post Office to get her passport. I happened to be there the same day and crazy enough, I knew exactly why she was there when I ran into her. I know when people are hung over, when they are on vacation and when their kids win a basketball game.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook and Twitter and all that stuff. I am definitely addicted. I have it on my Blackberry and upload pictures of nothing to share every chance I get. They have helped me stay in touch with friends and cousins that I might otherwise have lost touch with long ago. Sometimes life is so busy that I don’t talk to my local friends for days, but I still know what they are up to. I wouldn’t give it up, but maybe I need to read it with more of a disclaimer in my head like, “The events depicted in this site are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.” Then I will realize that Facebook is like looking at a snapshot, a frozen moment in time that doesn’t usually tell the whole story. It’s a guilty pleasure much like magazines at the grocery store checkout.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Musings of the 4am Feed

It's 4am and I hear the whimpers of Little Man calling for me over the crackle of the monitor. I groggily thank the stars for the extra hour that he gave me this morning, but also for the fact that he is calling for me now.  Let me first admit that this particular wake up has never bothered me much.  In the recent weeks of attempting to sleep train K, I have been quick to line anyone up to the firing squad who suggests that I eliminate this early morning bottle. I have tried to take the advice of well-intention friends and experts to let him cry it out.  It only ends with both of us crying and tired. But, I digress.

The 4am bottle creates a peaceful silence, and ever-growing bond between K and I.  There is something about his slow breathing, the way we look at each other, the way he strokes my face as he enjoys that precious 6oz. Most significantly, it's about the conversations we share.  Yes, sometimes we have nothing to say to each other and I resort to singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and two nights ago may have been stuck so lowered myself to singing a sloppy rendition of Eminem and Rhianna. I digress again.

This morning's musing were of my hopes for this Little Man.
I hope that he always holds his head high with humble confidence.

I hope that when faced with difficult decisions that he knows himself well enough to make the right ones.

I hope that when he doesn't make the right choices that he has surrounded himself with people that will help carry him.

I hope that he always brushes his teeth.

I hope he loves with wild abandon.  To not put up walls and guard himself from potential heartache.

I hope that when he does experience heartache, that he knows where to hide the dimwit that did it to him.  I will hunt them down ;)

I hope that he is quick to forgive and doesn't let grudges take over the goodness of his heart.

I hope he always finds a place in his heart for the underdog.

I hope he always comes home for the holidays (laundry, empty wallet and no gas in his car and all).

I hope he wears clean underwear.

I hope that he doesn't always chose the easiest path, but instead chooses the right path for him (in the words of a fellow blogger) "bumps and all".

I hope that he always wants to chat with mommy even if it is 4am and he is hungry. (Even though he hasn't had much to say these past 9 nine months). 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Storytime and Supermom

It’s one of those days where I’m feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve got on clean pants, makeup, and my hair is up. I remember brushing my teeth and actually getting the toothpaste to foam before having to spit it out and race towards the child who likes to gnaw on laptop cords.
The diaper bag is packed, the rolls are neatly tucked into a Bella Band (oh yes, I still wear one – judge away), and my house is semi clean for a slight “Oh! I already did the dishes” pick me up when I come back home.

I am ready. We are ready.
It’s story time at the library.

Heading out, I am confident. I look and smell clean – so a win all the way around. My child is neatly dressed (much better than me, which seems to be the norm these days).
I take my place in the library circle next to a mom who looks like me – no frills, semi awake and just glad to have made it out the door sans barf. We smile wearily yet happily at our little ones as they eye each other up. Her child also looks better than her. Perhaps it’s the new clothes they get every 3 months. Perhaps it’s the 2 guilt free naps a day.

We clap, sign, sign, pat, and roll our way through the half hour. Books are read, songs are repeated. I’m chatting with the new mom next to me. I feel happy to have made a friend. I feel content with myself.

Then I see her.
The Perfect Mother.

Perfectly, impeccably dressed in a crisp blouse and a WHITE skirt – we both stop and look as she gracefully does the motions – towheaded child in her lap also waving along. Her hair is completely in place – curled and poofed to bounce around her face. Her child gazes up at her in adoration as mine heads for the plug in on the wall.

She simply beams Ultra Motherhood. There isn’t an ounce of fat on her – perhaps she is the nanny? And yet, I know this isn’t true. Her legs are toned and tanned, her smile is white and everything she says is met with a nod from all the other mothers in the group. I have on Lulu track pants to hide the paleness of my legs (akin to a dead person) and the obvious departure from all things Gillette. The ring on her finger semi blinds me from across the room.

I am jealous. I feel suddenly inadequate as a mother – heck – as a human being. I feel the urge to throw up a little in my mouth – but realize that then I would smell like throw up. So.
We all head out the door. She places her laughing child into a $1,500 stroller as mine screams and throws himself backwards against me. We head down the sidewalk, and I marvel at the whiteness of the skirt. I wouldn’t make it out the door in that thing – she made it to story time and back spot free. Also, that skirt wouldn’t fit over my thigh. Notice the singular use of thigh.

I am stuck behind her as we walk to our cars. She chats with her friends about a new BMW, an addition to their home for an aupair, her husband finishing his residency at the local hospital. I remember we are out of dog food, and there is wet laundry in the washing machine. Oh craptarts, where did Iput that dirty diaper on my way out of the house? And I bet I left the formula out again and the dog is likely enjoying a great morning snack (which I will begrudgingly but quietly clean up later because my husband has told me 100 times not to leave out Formula).

Feeling more and more insecure, frumpy, fat, and disgruntled with my life, I arrive at my car to put my child in. I think about naptime. As I buckle him in, he looks up at me with big eyes. And smiles. Then pats my hand.
My eyes fill with tears as I realize how silly I have been. And judgmental – because I almost hated someone simply from their status in life.

And while it would be so easy to end this with a, “She’s probably miserable and in a lot of debt,” that wouldn’t be fair. She might have $50 million in the bank and be a blonde Mother Teresa.
It’s not about her. It’s about me. Being secure in who I am as a mother, as a woman, as a human being.

To Kingston, I am the perfect mother. But if I can’t see that, accept that for what it is, he won’t either one day. How can I reassure him that he is amazing, beautiful, and special if I don’t feel that way?

I’d also like to pass down to him the secret of wearing a white skirt all day while being a parent, but that’s setting the bar a little too high.