First, a disclaimer: This topic is something about which I have no first-hand performance knowledge. I am not a mom, and thus I don’t stay home with kids and feel inspired to take pictures of them and share. Also, is mommygrammer a word? If not, but it I mean all the moms who share steady snippets of their life at home with kids on social media.
While not qualified to participate, I do have a lot of friends who have the privilege of being stay-at-home moms and I follow them on Instagram, am friends with them on Facebook, and receive a steady stream of pictures that show sleeping babes, park dates, craft time, and a plethora of cute outfits. Thus, I speak today not as a fellow mommygrammer, but as someone whose social media feeds overflow with them.
I have very mixed feelings about children on social media. I share this now partially to keep me in check if we are blessed enough to have kids of our own sometime. As a generation, we are eradicating any possibly of our children having ownership of their own cyber-presence someday. Yes, someday everyone will have that embarrassing childhood photo that their parents shared early on and they may just all cancel each other out in terms of being a liability. But they will still be there, robbing our children of some element of their privacy. I also have some qualms about the ethics of blogs that make a profit largely off of sharing the intimate private life of their family and children. Should our children’s first steps make us money? Should they be celebrities that benefit us before they can even speak? But then again, I’m not in that situation so I really have no place to judge. Parenting is hard enough without random Internet strangers calling down judgment.
But what I am talking about here isn’t the big-time mommy bloggers far removed from me. I’m also not talking about the obvious abuses of social media where you share overly personal moments or painful moments that should be kept private. I’m talking about the routine and respectful daily pictures of my friends’ kids, or the children of the very few bloggers and Instagrammers that I follow that I don’t actually know. I’m talking about the almost familiar faces that make me smile during the day because I recognize miniature versions of my friends’ features. I’m talking about the laughter that some of their captions bring me, words that point out the humorous moments of parenthood. I’m talking about the reality that they share, the honesty and candor that they bring to parenting. I’m talking about the joy that social media can give in letting us watch our peers learn to be parents.
Don’t get me wrong – there are times when I scroll through my phone and roll my eyes at all the babies that are filling it up. I groan and swear that when I am a parent, I will limit the images of my offspring to a respectable number, or at least to varied poses. But really, if the rest of us are taking pictures of our shoes and brunch, why shouldn’t people who have CREATED NEW LIFE document it? (Plus, let’s be real: we all have the power to instantly and anonymously stop seeing something or someone on social media that bothers us, so we really can’t complain. )
But what I really love most of all is how social media has, in my opinion, given us a window into what mothers do all day. If mainstream culture and media is to be trusted, being a mother is a burden, one that limits women from achieving our potential or significantly compromises our professionalism. I am all about women going after what they want, but that means recognizing that society functions best when people have diverse desires. May those who want to be lawyers and doctors and professors do so. And may those who want to pack lunches and plan outings do so too. And may all of us stand in support of each other.
Furthermore, I cannot reconcile the negative and empty view of motherhood with what I see on social media, especially Instagram. I see mothers (and fathers!) who take their children to libraries, plan crafts, get down on the floor to play games, and explore. I see mothers intent on their task of teaching the world to their children, of helping them learn how to approach and love it, how to live in it and how to live among others bent on the same task. I see mothers whose days are full, not just of laundry, diapers and tasks, but of joy, play, instruction, and love. I see mothers proud of what they are doing and able to share it in a unique way in this modern world.
So Mommygrammers, keep it up. You are re-instilling value and beauty in something that our culture sometimes marginalizes. Someday, I hope to join you. Until then, I will just content myself with pictures of my feet or the occasional brunch and leave you lots of love. Oh, and you better believe that whenever I get to babysit one of your littles, they risk being neglected because I am so obsessed with taking photos of them. Seriously, how do you get anything done when they are so darn cute all the time?