Keeping up with the Phonses – The Pressures of Social Media

When my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten arrived, I admit I was quick to post her “first day of school” photo. Her smile was the sunshine and reassurance I needed to know I would be okay to leave her for the first time in an unknown, alien place. Kindergarten is one of those rites of passages for your children. You have to document, right?

So does every mom in town. I mean, who are we kidding? We need to make sure everyone sees that our kid has officially entered the realm of academia, like every other kid five years of age or a bit older. Let’s grab that chalkboard and use that curly-q font to scribble the date and snap the photo, lest we forget this moment, then let’s plaster it on social media so all of our friends (and acquaintances) know we didn’t forget our child’s big day.

I thought I had checked the box. I posted the photo of my husband and my daughter smiling in her new classroom, her Pokemon backpack gleaming in the background. She had on a cute, green Hawaiian dress. She shed no tears as we departed the parking lot with promises we would return that afternoon and hear all of her stories about arts & crafts, her first P.E. experience, and the under-appreciated nap time.

I uploaded. Posted. Oh look, I got 73 likes and a handful of comments. Guess everyone knows my kid is loved and cared for. That is, until I failed to post the “last day of Kindergarten” photo. Apparently I missed the memo where moms were supposed to create a collage of their child’s first day of school photo and last day of school photo together…almost like pre and post-marketing for an event. #fail. Just when I thought I was #killingit. Did my child really change that much in the past nine months? I would have known if I had documented her every experience on Facebook and Instagram.

So now I look like a total #momfailure for not bringing attention to this equally-important day of my child’s life on social media. Which also brings into question my true parenting skills considering my failure to document the other momentous occasions of my child’s life spread out in technicolor for all of you to gape and analyze.

Don’t get me wrong, moms, it’s not like you don’t have a full plate. Don’t shoot yourselves in the foot if you forgot that post-Kindergarten photo for your kid when you had your hands full declining group invites from your Essential Oils, LuLa Roe, and Plexus-fanatic friends. There’s nothing better than added stress from friends who expect you to buy into their program because you’re just too nice to say no.

While we are on the subject of declining to social media pressures, I have to give my condolences to the newly-budding parents. Ode to the days of not scheduling a “gender reveal” party where you have to shoot a blue or pink canon out of your ass to tell the world that your kid is in fact not an alien with androgynous features.

Here’s another one. My co-worker recently attended a new event called a Sip and See (who knew?!). So after you attend the gender reveal to determine the types of gifts you need to purchase for the upcoming baby shower where you bestow gifts upon this new bundle of joy, you get to attend yet another event to officially see and deliver your frankincense and myrrh to the newly-birthed, wild-eyed wonder of a child, and sip punch(?) as an incentive to join the party.

Let me stop right here and apologize to our newest generation that will soon grace us with their presence. Dear baby, I know you have already been the center of a minimum of three social media event experiences without your knowledge. And if you’re the second child, maybe there’s an extra diaper / gift card shower thrown in there somewhere. Just keep smiling. Social media loves a smile, or at least a really misplaced frown, like one where you’re wearing a pink tutu but really upset because mom is making you pose during nap time.

Okay, okay. I sound a bit harsh on this one. Chill, Chelsea. But I have to give myself permission on this one. After all, I was the pink tutu mom. Can you blame me? It’s what everyone else was doing at the time. I was just keeping up with the “phonses.”

Fortunately, I was just on the cusp of the gender reveal extravaganza craze. Back when you could dye some cupcakes pink or blue and call it a day (no AK-47 involved). I cannot with definitive assurance tell you I woudn’t be on that bandwagon to yank those colored balloons out of a box and leap for joy, regardless of the pink, blue (or purple if it’s a mishap) color.

I can tell you with 100% positivity that the showiness of my generation has gotten way out of hand. Promposals. Sip and sees. Gender reveals. Pregnancy announcements. Pre AND POST kindergarten photos. First lost tooth. First poopy in the potty. First date out with hubby after the baby. A baby moon trip. A grandiose smash cake for child’s first birthday. A grandiose second birthday cake because we have to compete with the first.

And friends, I’m just talking about events centered around our kids, here. Are you overwhelmed yet? Let’s also add in social media posts to mention Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Sibling’s Day, and Grandparent’s Day. We have to ensure those loved ones feel loved in cyberspace, right?

I mean, actually seeing them in person or picking up a phone to call them is a bit too inconvenient in our over-brimming schedules. But hey, I love my mom. Here’s a pic of us hanging out a couple of years ago (photoshopping out double chin) to prove my unrequited love for the one who birthed me. Check.

Oh crap. It’s my husband’s birthday. Let me go through my albums and find the best one of him cradling our daughter for the first time. Happy birthday to the best father and husband a gal could ever ask for! Post. Done.

That was easy.

The hard part is actually telling him in person. But who does that anymore? We’re doing just fine in cyberspace. No need to disrupt the apple cart by talking about real feelings face to face. Best to stick with interface to interface.

How thick is that screen you hide behind? Mine is merely millimeters but can divide like oceans of time. When did your place in the world settle inside a newsfeed? Aren’t we made of flesh and bone and blood? No filters here. This isn’t Snapchat.

I remember sitting on my grandmother’s autumnal-patterned sofa and flipping through yellowed photo albums that told stories. They were private and raw. They didn’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards. They were Kool-aid stained lips and frumpy dresses. They were cowlicks and chocolate-smeared faces. They were upside-down hanging kids with shirts two sizes too small and no shoes. They were Mickey Mouse-eared kids yanking their little brothers around the shoulders to pose for the one family photo required to say that they made it to the promise land. And then the camera was put away. The rest is history. Whatever happened there, we will never know.

But you know, that’s okay. Sometimes, the greatest moments happen when the camera flash is off. It’s the events we don’t pre-plan. It’s the crooked smiles and the disheveled clothing. It doesn’t come pre-packaged in pink or blue. It’s wrapped up in a rainbow of beauty we call life.

From one mom to another, let’s get real. Why do we do this to ourselves? In addition to living a life full of its own unique struggles, we also choose to keep up with the phonses. The daily post. The plastered smiles. The newest expectation from cyberspace.

And while your child yanks at your pants leg, demanding attention, we look for fulfilment in a thumbs up symbol.

Close down your screens. Look your loved one in their eyes. Grab their hands. Say “I love you.” Say “I’m sorry.” Say “I’m here.”

Cyberspace will forgive you. What’s harder is forgiving yourselves for moments you missed trying to keep up in a world you were never meant to live in. Step outside and smell the fresh air. Feel the grass. It’s greener there.

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