If you’re like me – and there are times when I wish you are and pray you are not! – your life is a fairytale. You wake up, hair perfectly coiffed and breath freshly (cinna)minted… your breakfast consists of more than a half-spilled cup of coffee and a few snuck nibbles of your child’s toast… your car starts perfectly each time… you never run late, your colds last all of a day and your makeup never looks like a drag queen was practicing for their first pageant.
This week, I wanted to share something with you that Sarah Emily Tuttle-Singer wrote for Kveller.com (http://www.kveller.com/blog/parenting/we-need-to-quit-telling-lies-on-facebook/); a blog about “Fakebooking” and the cycles we get caught in when we try to appear more socially attractive (or, in my case, acceptable) than we are. She can explain it better than I can, so here you go:
So, according to Facebook, this is how I spent my Saturday with the kids:
My children and I woke up with the sun, smiling and ready to kick ass and “make it a great day.”
My hair was shiny. My smile, too.
We drank our morning drinks in latte cups–frothy foam mustaches lacing our lips.
We played backgammon, our skin mottled by drops of shade in the morning light.
We went for a walk in the orchards, and we danced between emerald leaves like fairies.
We rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers.
‘Cuz that’s how we roll: Just another day being totally awesome.
And while all of this is basically true, I’m also full of shit.
Here’s how it really went down.
My children and I did wake up with the sun. Waaaay too early because someone forgot to close the blinds the night before. Sure, they were smiling and ready to kick ass and “make it a great day.”
But hey, I had enough stamina to trudge out of bed, turn on the TV, power up the DVD player, and press play. I didn’t even bother to rub the crap from my eyes. By the time Belle finished bitching and moaning about her “provincial life” I was asleep.
I dreamed there was a dog kissing my face. I batted it away. I heard my daughter scream “DON’T HIT ME, MAMA!”
I opened my eyes: My daughter was the dog. And it was clearly time to brush teeth, because–oops!–we crashed hard the night before and Mama of the Year may have let the nighttime ritual slide.
So we brushed our teeth and took turns peeing.
“Mama, why does your vagina have a tail?”
“Oh, that’s a tampon.”
“What’s a tampon?”
(Once upon a time when I used to read books on parenting–before I had kids–I learned that when it comes to tricky questions about where babies come from, you should only answer the specific question asked. Think hostile witness on the stand and get serious.)
“Tampons go inside your vagina.”
“Because they stop the blood from coming out of your vagina.”
My kids took it all in stride.
“Why do you have blood in your vagina?”
“Every month if there isn’t a baby in my uterus, I have blood. It doesn’t hurt, and the tampon stops it from getting in my underwear.”
“I want a tampon,” my son said. I gave him a clean one. He unwrapped it, grabbed the string, and hit his sister on the ear.
We ate leftover schnitzel and chocolate cake. Breakfast of champions, people. And I took several “spontaneous” pictures of all of us smiling 🙂 with a camera timer.
(“Come on… Please. Smile dammit! Look happy!”)
The kids went back to the TV and I hit up Facebook to see what everyone else was doing.
Most of my Facebook friends with kids were telling their Saturday stories for the world to “like.”
Homegirl posted a picture of her and her brood frolicking in a field of red poppies. (And I felt a twinge of envy.)
I clicked “like.”
Another friend wrote, “My hubby makes the best pancakes for our little man.” (And I threw up a little in my mouth.)
I also clicked “like.”
And not to be outdone, I uploaded our new pictures. “Sunny Saturday!” I wrote in the status. I’m not a total liar. I’m just good at PR.
Time passed–five minutes? An hour? When you’re blissfully ignoring your kids, the seconds slip by far too quickly.
We were on the third cycle of Beauty and the Beast when the internet went out. I started to shake. I couldn’t breathe. My window to the outside world was shuttered and locked.
“What about the internet on your phone?” you ask. Well, let me tell it to you. I live in the middle of nowhere. And my 3G network prefers chillin’ in cafes in Tel Aviv–sure, I understand–I’m the same way. But it still sucks.
Because–guess what? Now I have to actually spend my entire weekend with the kids actually with the kids.
And here’s the dirty little secret that I’ll never admit on Facebook: I love my kids every freaking second. Would I die for them? You bet. Would I kill for them? Hurt my child, and I will cut you. But, I don’t always want to be with them.
Oh, and meanwhile? We were also out of coffee.
So, we got dressed. I squeezed into a pair of Spanx–because three years postpartum, and there are days when I still look pregnant. My belly is soft and mushy, and when I’m naked, I love how it feels between my fingers. But a muffin top is still a muffin top, so I tucked my Spanx into my bra, pulled on my skinny jeans, put on a red tank top, and zipped up my hooker boots.
Always my hooker boots, people. Both online and “IRL.”
Meanwhile, my son wanted to wear his sister’s dress. She didn’t want him to wear her dress. She shouted that penises don’t wear dresses. He screamed that penises do wear dresses.
“Do too! Mama, can penises wear dresses?” my son asked.
“Sure they can. But, Dude, that’s your sister’s dress, so the two of you need to work it out.”
There was a thud. Then silence. Then she screamed. Then he screamed. And FYI? I was in the bathroom the whole time covering my zits and flat ironing my hair, and so I’m really not sure who pushed whom first.
I came out screaming.
“What the hell is going on? Get dressed! You’re wearing this! You’re wearing that! Get your asses in gear, right now.” I clapped my hands like a drill sergeant and counted down. “Chop chop. 10, 9, 8…” People, when you’re parenting solo and your internet is out and you wanna get coffee, you do what works. And believe you me, this method works.
I can go on, but you get the idea.
Yes, we did drink out of oversized coffee mugs. But my son spilled his hot chocolate all over the floor.
Yes, we did play backgammon–but by “play backgammon” I really mean we built towers out of the backgammon chips for a grand total of two minutes and 33 seconds before my daughter realized that two of the white pieces were missing, and her tower would never be as big as her brother’s.
Yes, we went for a walk in the orchards. But within minutes, we were soaked in mud and our feet were cold. And both kids were whining because the clementine juice stung their fingers.
Yes, we rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers. But just one song before my kids took the CD player hostage and put on a Disney singalong. FML, people. FML.
Yes, there were blissful moments on that Saturday with my kids–moments I quickly captured in photographs and Facebook statuses, like butterflies pinioned to a board. “Look everyone! Look! My kids are happy! I’m happy! We’re happy!”
And yes, we are happy. Most of the time. But there are times when we aren’t. And by only sharing the cute and cuddly moments, I ignore the importance of the raw and the real hours that are spent in the trenches making mistakes and learning from them.
– Close the damn shades at night, or expect to be woken up at an unholy hour. - Make your children brush their teeth, or they will have dog breath. - If you’re on the rag, maybe change your feminine hygiene projects alone with the door closed. And locked. - Always know your neighbor’s internet code in case of an emergency.
And instead of pretending that everything is hunky-freaking-dory, let’s be real: Parenting is ridiculously hard. And all of us do ourselves and each other a huge disservice when we pretend otherwise. Sure, there are great times that should be celebrated. Sure, when our kids do awesome things, by all means, let’s get our brag on. But let’s also not tell each other so many lies by omission.
My life on Facebook is an airbrushed and Instagrammed image of my real life. I edit the suckage because I want people to think I have my shit together. I give everything a hipstacular filter to make the drudgery look interesting. Most of the time, I think I’m a decent mom, and I think I’m giving my kids a pretty good life. But I also think I’d be a better mom if I stopped pretending, and making friends on Facebook feel like they have to pretend as well.
Keeping up with the status messages is exhausting. And it turns friends into frenemies.
Anyway. For all the lies by omission I’ve told on Facebook, I’m sorry. I’m really really really sorry. I can’t promise that I won’t do it again, but I can promise that I’ll try to be more real. For all of our sakes.
Because here’s the deal: Parts of my Saturday sucked big time. And I’m telling you this because I bet parts of your Saturdays sucked big time as well. And if that’s the case, I want you to know that all my shiny happy status messages aside, I get it. And if you want to talk about parenting with me–like, really break it down so we can rebuild–I’m here.
Great, huh? Now, again, if you’re like me (and I mean it this time!), you’re examining what you put out there for the (cyber) world to see. I encourage you to be as real as you feel the situation warrants but, even more than that, to consider that everyone has something that they’re hiding. Maybe the friend posting her seventeenth picture of her pristine newborn sleeping blissfully isn’t intending to rub your nose in her domestic bliss… maybe she’s just glad Junior is finally asleep after a 49-hour stretch of colic. Or, maybe she IS that evil. Either way, a grain of salt does a lot to season – and save – our relationships online.
Until next week…