This morning, I took my kids to a park. Sal calls it "mama's park" (there's also one he refers to as dad's park).
Let me tell you the main reason why I love "my" park.
Nobody knows about it.
That's right. Sometimes I take my kids to a park where nobody else goes. So much for socialization, right?
Why do I do this?
Because sometimes I want my kids to be free to play and climb and fall without fear of persecution from judgey mcjudgersons. Sometimes I just want to enjoy watching my kids run amok without having to carry on polite conversations with other parents about how full my hands are, or better yet, try to maintain a neutral stance on a controversial parenting topic like immunizations or sleep training.
Don't get me wrong, we socialize. I do like other moms. We totally hit the popular parks a couple times a week-but every so often, I just don't want to talk to anyone or have anyone judge my family from afar. I parent to the best of my abilities and I'm confident in most of my decisions.
But here's the thing... Social media takes judgement to a whole new level. Heaven forbid someone not agree with something my kid (or myself) is doing and post it on social media for all to see.
I'm part of a local Facebook group comprised of moms in our area. The group started out small, and now numbers over 6,000 members. I love to scroll through posts during nap time. Most moms post questions, items for sale, and share funny stories of parenthood....Then you've got the know it alls, with harsh words and argument seeking comments. They write posts like "can you believe this mother did....?!" and all of the judgements come flooding in. I avoid engaging in those posts by scrolling past, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried that one day I'll be reading one of those "can you believe this mother at park xyz does / did this?!" along with a picture of me in some unflattering contortion trying to fight one of my kids into a car seat or (gasp!) feeding them fruit snacks with food dye in them.
I know I'm not alone. A few of my friends and I have discussed our concerns of judgement in something so small as allowing our kids to ride bikes to a friend's house when they are of a mature enough age. Riding bikes and exercising freedom and trust is a right of passage. However, what if someone disagrees with our desire to have somewhat free range kids and calls child protective services or the police? While I'm certain we wouldn't get in trouble by either entity, it's not anything I ever want my kids to experience. You know?
I'm rambling a bit here. But I guess what I'm getting at is that while social media could be a great outlet for support, it's often not. It's people feeling mighty powerful behind their keyboard and in turn bullying/ shaming another mother who is trying her best.
I wonder what it was like to be a mother before social media. I imagine women had a select group of confidants that they bounced questions off of, and deferred all other questions to their pediatricians. Maybe people minded their own business more often and spent more time worrying about their own kids and less time worrying about others.
I wonder what it will be like when my kids are old enough to be parents themselves? What kind of pressures will they have that we do not have?
I can only imagine.