Before becoming a parent, there was a vast list of things I said I would never do. Irritating things that I saw other people do with their kids, that I swore black and blue, upside down and inside out would not be me. Well. Like all of us, I’ve probably done most of them. Things like assuming the God intended pram “right of way” on a narrow footpath. Like loudly shooshing people in my home because the babies were asleep. Like prattling on to the barista at my local coffee shop about the magnificence that is my 3 year old daughter (thanks mate, for smiling, nodding, interjecting with the odd question and generally pretending you give a damn, I like your style, I like it a latte).
That being said, I do have a few things that I’ve stayed solid on, specifically pertaining to social media. Cos let’s face it, sometimes social media is as social as I have the opportunity to get so it’s kind of a big deal. I’ve probably been tempted to do these things. Heck, I may have even alllllllmost done them. But that little former non parent version of myself hibernating somewhere in the back of my otherwise now mostly useless brain has put the breaks on and pulled me up short before it was too late. Because past tense, pre-parent me is sassy and can’t be tamed.
So here’s where I drop in one mother of a disclaimer. If you’re a parent and you do some of the things I’m about to renounce, I’m not judging you for it. I have lots of mummy friends and probably they’ve done some of these things at one point or another. It doesn’t mean I no longer want to play with them at recess or sit next to them in class. I don’t doubt that I do things that they wouldn’t, or that irritate them! Knowing me, I’d put money on it in fact. Each to their own. We all have our own individual parenting compass and personal boundaries. These happen to be mine.
So. Without further ado.
I solemnly swear never to…
1. Make a status update about my children’s poo (with or without photographic evidence)
I kid you not, I have seen ACTUAL PHOTOS of poos in the toilet in facebook status updates. Toilet training is a big deal. I get it. Believe me, I do. I simultaneously toilet trained 2 year old twins. At times it wasn’t pretty. But generally speaking, no one else gives a shit (#seewhatididthere). Cos it’s gross. I’ll be honest, in the early days of toilet training our twins, my husband and I would send potty pictures to one another if one of our children busted a grumpy and one or the other of us had missed the big event. They were virtual high five moments. Cos clearly we’re weirdos. And it was funny. But! It was our kids poo. It’s different! I just can’t stomach some other kids morning bog leaping out at me by surprise from my facebook newsfeed while I’m eating my vegemite toast. Let alone the subsequent descriptions of texture, odour and frequency, or the level of difficulty in remnant removal. Lots of people don’t care about poo. Especially parents. Seen one, seen ’em all. I merely lean slightly toward the refined and civilised notion that poos should be kept to private message or closed mothers group discussion forums with adequate warning that a poo picture is forthcoming. That’s in part what mums groups are for – sharing is caring. That’s manageable. Relatable. It’s in context. Dignified. Shit sharing status updates? Less so.
2. Post pictures of my kids with food all over their faces
When I originally typed the above point, I made a typo and it read “post pictures of my kids with poo all over their faces”. Rest assured, if that ever happens (God forbid), I won’t do that either. Nor will I post a status update about it FYI.
But back to the issue at hand. This one might stem from my own weird food hang ups… remember that time I acknowledged my epic weirdo self by confessing my phobia about touching other people’s dirty cutlery? I just really don’t love seeing my kids covered in food smoosh. It happens of course, but I’m not about to run and get the Canon and capture it on film to cherish forevermore. It just grosses me out. My kids are mega adorable, just sayin. But they still look blurk with mouth agape, covered in half chewed food smearage. My Instagram followers do not need this. You don’t see adults splashing photos of themselves with BBQ sauce from eyeball to earlobe all over the internet. Let alone multiple photos. In fact, essentially the same photo but from fourteen different angles, and varying degrees of head tiltage. There must be a reason for this. I might be going out on a limb here but this may well be because…well… Because.it.looks.gross. I get why other parents do it. Because, milestones. Solids. Cake smashes. Sneaky chocolate stash discoveries. General hilarity. Etc. I’ve just got this thing agasint oozy mucky smeary smooshy grossness (come to think of it, this is possibly also my general reasoning behind point number 1). I think I’ve said the word gross more times in this paragraph than I did in the whole of 2004. You’ve probably got the gist.
Because, I’m still me. Yes, my kids are gorgeous. But I’m still me. I would (and do) use a picture of myself with one or all of my children as a profile picture, sure, cos…you know… I’m in it. And it’s a reflection of my life and who I am. But for me, I think this one comes down to the fact that as a stay at home mum, my identity is very enmeshed with having children and being mummy. So much so that when I go out without them, I often feel compelled to comment to people I come across, check-out operators at the supermarket who actually don’t give a damn etc etc, that my three young children are at home. I’m not just whiling my time away browsing the shops, doing as I please. I’m not dressed like this (I like to haphazardly call it homeless vagrant who doesn’t own a hairbrush chic) and looking so haggard and unseemly because I lack a sense of pride. I’m a muhhhhhtherrrr. This explains away copious sins, lapses in memory or general social ettiquette fails, fashion faux pas and stains on my tshirt.
I’m so hyper aware of my inability to disentangle myself from my mummy identity, that I try to uphold my inherent me-ness in other ways. Like keeping my hair long even though my 6 month old tends to use it in an unfortunately vigorous game of tug of war with my scalp. And yes, keeping my facebook profile picture as an actual picture of my very own self. It’s a little thing, but it reminds me that I actually existed as a human being with thoughts, feelings and the ability to compose a humorous and engaging (non poo related) status update before I became a parent.
I really like social media. I’ve been on board since the days when MySpace was cool (yes, there was a dark distant time when MySpace was actually a thing, I don’t know if you remember it, it was four days in October 2003) and Napster was how you downloaded new tunes. I endeavour to use it for good not evil. But becoming a parent invites a whole new realm of uses for social media and, frankly, a whole new way for other people to judge you. I’ve been told off for posting pictures of my kids to my Facebook, warned that my Instagram followers will be annoyed if there are too many snaps of my children’s artwork or of my baby touching her feet. When it comes right down to I think you just need to own what you do, and please yourself. Who cares what anyone thinks? Make your own rules, and be a rebel and break them whenever you feel like it. You never know, I just might break mine. Maybe I already have!
But there you have it. My top 3 parenting rules for social media, for me and me alone (oh, and my husband will probably go along with these too if he knows what’s good for him). If you’ve got any self imposed parenting embargoes, social media related or otherwise, I’d love to hear what they are!