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Who would have thought that being a mom in the age of social media would be a point of discussion someday?
Today, the world revolves around social media from newspapers to media houses, campaigns to job applications, that’s where it all happens. Name one thing and I can bet that at least one aspect of it relies on the same. So, how could I, just an ordinary woman, a mom, think that I would be exempt. The fact is no one is.
From your breakfast to why you love your spouse so much, social media has an opinion on all. An opinion which you didn’t need or ask for. Social Media is like that next door neighbour or that annoying relative who can now stomp into your bedroom, enter your head and judge you for everything you do. And try as you may that it doesn’t but it almost always succeeds in affecting you in one way or the other. If not anything else than in forcing yourself to spend 10 minutes of your life preparing to ignore it. Yes, you read that right.
When it comes to #women, like society, #socialmedia also thinks we are there's to control Click To Tweet
Now, when it comes to women, like society, social media also thinks we are there’s to control. And it’s as vicious and visceral as real life. These controlling symptoms also aggravate as women go on taking up new roles or deviate from what is considered as normal. Social media has opinions on our body and our life choices too. So why should it be any different when you become a mom? And that’s what I have been noticing for some time now.
Social Media is like that next door neighbour or that annoying relative who can now stomp into your bedroom, enter your head and judge you for everything you do.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a part of social media because I’m a blogger and this is where I thrive. I also write about parenting and motherhood. But I speak about my experience without making fun of someone who might be leading a life which is the result of a completely different set of choices. But there are too many pieces, opinions and much chatter out there which sneer at everything I do. The vitriol is not good because a mom is always vulnerable and bound to get affected. Expressing an opinion and judging someone are two different things. A thin line separates these two which almost always vanishes here.
As women, we are intrinsically programmed to overthink. So, imagine how much over thinking I do for being a mom who chose to try to hold on to whatever career she has. Or, when I have to decide what I should feed my child or how I should dress her. Which clothes should I make her wear or which school I should send her too? ICSE, CBSE or state board? And, mind you, she’s just 1.5 years old now. How much of extra curricular activities is acceptable and how much is not when the time comes? How soon should I send her to school? Should I yell at her or not? From how can I leave my daughter in the daycare to why don’t I make five-course meals for her every day, I have heard it all. And it’s tough not to keep second guessing myself or disputing my love for her when every single day there is something to read about which points fingers at me. Yes, social media doesn’t help in allaying any of my fears or my guilt for that matter.
Why a few months back someone who is on my friend’s list put up a status saying she doesn’t understand mothers who leave children with unknown folks at daycares or with help at home?
She doesn’t need to and I don’t really care that she didn’t understand the basic concept of to each their own or different circumstances and choices. But I couldn’t help feeling irritated. A woman judging another woman? Imagine how angry that made me. I spent hours feeling guilty about leaving M alone. I doubt if my mum had to worry about being judged for being a stay-at-home mother or wearing saree or never being part of a kitty. She was lucky that social media didn’t exist till the early 2000s. I wish I could raise M in those days.
But it’s not only the questioning comments or judgements that bother me or haunt me. Every where you look there is a list of dos and don’ts of being a good mum. And let me tell you it’s hard to keep track. While someone says we should be friends with our kids another says we should be strict. One site says you should keep breastfeeding till 2 years and another says you shouldn’t do it beyond 6 months. Which do you follow? Just like real life, right? Only now it’s the second dose of advice and opinions.
And that’s not even the crux of it. When I read about how everything, from hobbies to life choices, revolves around children for mothers, I wonder if I’m doing something wrong trying very hard to hold on to some semblance of my individuality as well. I wonder if something is wrong with me or do I not love M?
Then a controversy about working vs stay-at-home moms catches on and there goes my peace of mind. Because someone says something then someone else says something and not all of it makes sense. In fact, most of it doesn’t make sense. The points then make me so mad that I stay anxious for a long time like a mad woman. Knowing there is no point in it all and I don’t need to prove anything to anyone also doesn’t help.
There is always a question being asked or an eyebrow being raised at your choices. Weren’t the people in real life enough that now social media also adds to that?
You know, I consider myself fairly capable of not getting affected by others. I try and do what I want to do when I want to do and with whom I want to do. But ever since I became a mother, I have noticed that the smallest of things about being a mother or raising a child affects me, confuses me and bothers me. And social media often aggravates that.
It had completely slipped my mind that I'll be a mom in the age of #SocialMedia. #motherhood Click To Tweet
Having said that, there is the good side too. You might think there isn’t any since I have been going on and on about the pressure it puts on mothers. But that’s not true. From support groups to like minded mothers whom I can network with and learn from, from working mums who understand what I go through to stay-at-home mums who nudge me forward when I feel low, it’s all there. Blogs and articles which come from the experience of being a mother and not out of the necessity to judge, of having faced what I am facing now. All of these help me and I try to focus on those more.
Truth is, to become a mother is to take on a job that is probably the toughest in the world. But women still do it because, well, we are intrinsically very strong. Yes, I believe it and so should you. When I decided to become a mother, I knew it was an extremely challenging territory I was stepping into. My only fear then was, do I really think I’m ready to be a mother? Am I really ready to do all those millions of things that a mother does? Well, as time bore witness and is still doing so every day, it has been every bit exhausting, scary, stressful and more because now I’m responsible for a life other than my own. And I’m only human who fails, yells, gets tired and loses patience. Of course, it has also made me one big fluff of emotions and love. But nothing, and I stress nothing, could have prepared me for this. Boy, was I wrong about that being my only fear? I had forgotten that the online world and my reaction to that would weigh in as well in this. It had completely slipped my mind that I’ll be a mom in the age of Social Media.
Tell me, does social media affect your parenting too or make you second guess yourself all the time?
A couple of weeks back Shailaja, an exceptional blogger and a friend of mine, wrote this – parenting during the social media era. A very pertinent article which you must read as well. It was while reading it that I recalled this post (that you just read) languishing as a draft for some time now. So, Shailaja, thank you for the nudge to publish this.
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