What is it about social media that draws us into a sense of community, and solidarity, but also into a sense of uncertainty and anxiety? With every picture, every post, every comment, I feel as though I am never enough — and then I feel guilty for feeling that way!
I wish that I weren’t like this. I sometimes wish that I could retreat back to a time of blissful ignorance, and not feel the pressures and guilt that social media brings my way. Believe me, I love social media. I love sharing my pictures, telling silly stories, and celebrating the beauty of the lives of those around me. I love the camaraderie that is shared among like-minded people, and the silliness that brings levity to my often stressful day.
Guilty: Of Playing the Comparison Game
Yet it seems like I can’t help but compare myself to the other “perfect” moms out there.
“She looks amazing! She has such wonderfully well-behaved children! Oh no, my son doesn’t know all of the planets yet…”
In addition, I can’t seem to help but feel distressed at mean comments, or the hate that people ignorantly spew at one another behind the cover of the internet.
Why on Earth does the “body positivity movement” make me feel worse? Am I the only one? I’m happy that women are finally able to look like women, but I still feel inadequate even after maintaining my fitness throughout motherhood. My tummy never looked like those that grace the glossy pages of magazines (even the “normal” tummies that are being celebrated now.)
Perhaps I sound petty? I know that if a friend told me this exact same thing I would tell her that she should never compare! Be joyful with who you are! Your body is beautiful and has done so much for you! But I can’t do that to myself. How hypocritical of me.
Then comes the guilt. The guilt at not being happy with myself, at not doing enough.
Guilty: Of Piling it On
At times I go to the store with my sons and one invariably has a melt-down, or hits the other, and I feel the looks, the scowls of disapproval, the shakes of the head. Whispers of “no discipline… no respect…” fill my ears, and I worry that I’m not cut out for this motherhood thing. I know my kids are little with big feelings that they can’t comprehend yet. But when I see someone else with children in ages similar to my own and their kids are acting like little angels I think that, clearly, I must be doing everything wrong.
Again: guilt. Guilt at not being able to do enough when my kids misbehave. Guilt at not knowing what the “right” way is for them.
I love my job, and I love working with my students to discover more about the world around them. While I am proud of what I do, I know that because I work full time, I spend more of my day with other people’s children rather than my own. Sorry, I can’t make the mom gathering, I’m in class. Nope, the only day I can possibly do a play date is Sunday, as I have tutoring and grading after-school and UIL on Saturdays. Even then — the shopping, cleaning, and meals have to be made on Sundays; my family doesn’t have the option of a single income.
Guilt. At not spending enough time with my boys, at not being there for some of their firsts and explorations. The mom guilt is so real. But, I’m trying.
Guilty: Of Forgetting Reality
Some things I try to remember –
- Those beautiful women that I see with “perfect” bodies probably see the worst, just like I do.
- We need to be kind. Not only to other people but to ourselves. We are modeling ideas of self-worth to our kids. They need to see positivity through our eyes — not just a magazine. They need to see mommy smile, laugh, and live joyfully, without regard to judgement.
- EVERYBODY’S kids have their moments. Some kids just have them in an area with a bigger audience.
- Our kids are learning. They feel the same big emotions that we do, but they lack our experience with those emotions. They don’t know how to deal with what they’re feeling yet. When they act out it’s not about us or even them – it’s about the things that surround them that they don’t know how to control. Don’t you feel like you want to yell in frustration on certain days?
- Moms ALL have it rough. Time is something that we all feel that we lack.
- Whether you’re a stay-at-home or working mom, I’m sure that we all wish we could stop the clock. Our moments with our kids are fleeting. Caught between the day-to-day activities from working to running a household to chasing around the kids, we sometimes get lost. The time flees faster than my son running away after having stolen a toy from his brother.
So we keep going. We persevere. We post our highlight reels, and laugh together over our embarrassing stories, and just try to keep going. We give all that we have and all that we are, and hope that it is enough.
It is enough. We are enough.