#MommyTalks | Being A Mom In The Age Of Social Media

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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?

 

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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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15 thoughts on “#MommyTalks | Being A Mom In The Age Of Social Media

  1. Nice balanced post which presents the pros and cons, Nabanita. I’m not a parent, but I share your views, albeit I think social media doesn’t judge me as harshly as it judges a mom.

    I agree, social media is more of an angry place than a happy one. But it’s a lot like life, isn’t it? It’s easier to find judgmental and angry people than accommodative and happy ones. Social media highlights our feeling of entitlement and how self-righteous we apparently are.

    But as you also pointed out, the key is to discover like-minded, encouraging people, and to hold on to them. It’s okay to mute people you used to respect at some point. I’m more generous with the mute button than I am with my shaving cream. I don’t need to know what everyone thinks, especially those who offer opposing views without enough research to justify them. I just want people I respect think of me positively.

    Cheers 🙂

  2. First, kudos to you for publishing this post and I’m glad my post gave you the impetus to do it.

    Social media can be a minefield if we let ourselves be drawn into it deep enough. Okay, I mixed up two metaphors there, but you get my point. And it’s hard to stay completely Zen or aloof because yes, we are human. Nothing we do or say can pass by without scrutiny and that is tough.

    While the advantage of social media is that you can find like-minded moms, the disadvantage is that there are way too many opinions out there, as you rightly pointed out. I was talking to a friend yesterday about this and one of the things we agreed upon is this:

    Do what makes you comfortable. You are not responsible for other people’s opinions. You can’t control their reactions and you should not. Unless directly confronted, don’t make yourself miserable about this. It isn’t worth it.

    For every 15 people who sneer at your parenting choices, there are 30 who will support you. For every naysayer, there are two positive encouragers. Find your tribe and do what makes you happy.

    Thank you so much for the shout out and remember, you are the best mother for M just like I know there won’t be anyone else but me who is right for Gy. You do what makes you and M happy. Always.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…Why Chores for Kids are Necessary and HelpfulMy Profile

  3. I agree that sometimes I read random opinions/comments and they upset me especially when they are judgmental or rude. Women and moms are judged much more harshly than men. Perhaps, because we are more vocal? There are more mothers sharing their thoughts on relationships and parenting than there are dads. Of course, twitter is another ball game. Anyone and everyone would tell you nasty things for no reason. While it is not possible to completely ignore, I do try to especially when it is by a stranger or an acquaintance. I am in a space where I have been a mom for over 15 years now, and as time passed I became more accepting of my own choices as a parent even when they did not pan out well. You will, as well.
    Rachna recently posted…#Gratitude This JulyMy Profile

  4. Nabanita, hugs! Do remember motherhood is your unique individual journey and it is entirely upto you to give it your best shot, however and whichever way you want to do it! IGNORE what others say! I’m speaking from the other end of the dilemma you’re in because people keep asking why is it that I don’t get back to Full Time work when my son is now 13 years old. There are a lot of people who judge me for having a cook and a maid because I am a SAHM which in effect means I should be doing housework all the time and do not require home helps! I have stopped answering these people…and I carry on nonetheless. I have my life and my own set of rules for what I need to get a good life. It is nobody’s business to comment on what I should/shouldn’t do. Do what is best for you and M and learn to ignore naysayers! Don’t let them spoil your peace of mind. Choose your battles wisely, Nabanita.

  5. Yes it’s sad that some people use social media to judge, belittle and shame other people’s beliefs and choices. Since becoming a blogger, my eyes have been opened to the training begins so many different lifestyles – home mum, work mum, breastfeeding mum, bottle mum, step mum, adoptive mum, etc. But the thing that shines through is that they’re all trying to do the best they can and make the right choices for their children. #mg
    Lucy At Home recently posted…Blogcrush Week 25 – 4th August 2017My Profile

  6. This is such a thought-provoking post. We can’t have children but often talk about how difficult it must be to be a child/teenager in this age where every mistake you make could potentially be broadcast online. When I was a teen in the 90s, the worst that could happen was some kind of misguided Chinese whispers which was bad enough. But there was never any proof or judgment from a world of strangers. It’s very tough but as you say, so many positive aspects to take from it too for both parents and children X #MG

  7. Social Media can certainly be a spitfire of negativity. I love my block button for anyone who irritates me to that point and I’m well versed in unfollowing people who act too entitled for my tastes. Finding like minded individuals is the way to go but hard to find. #mg

  8. Intresting post! The social media , as you rightly said can be like a friend or that annoying relative giving advise or asking questions!
    Let’s hope we deal well:)
    Zainab recently posted…A day in my lifeMy Profile

  9. I feel this, people make random comments and statements on parenting, on what is being irresponsible and responsible.. One needs to however turn a deaf ear to it all, and do what one thinks is best for them and their child. Secondly Social media has its pros and cons…It depends on which side we want to look at…
    Ramya Abhinand recently posted…The Paradox of ChoiceMy Profile

  10. Sometimes social media does freak me out – specially when people write about the achievements of their children. Makes me nervous, makes me wonder if my children are normal because they aren’t regularly bringing home trophies or totally maxing their exams.
    However, even in the real world I hear moms judging and commenting and that’s worse because you expect them to know and understand you better. Personally for me social media has been a positive part of parenting – I’ve got more support than judgement and for that I am grateful.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…The heart of a festivalMy Profile

  11. I feel I missed the social media pressure when mine were young. Aspen was born in 2004, April 2001 and Adam 2009 and to be honest I didn’t even know about blogging until Adam was in Kindergarten, and I didn’t join Facebook or any other social media until I started blogging almost 3 years ago. I found personal opinions and attacks hard though through certain family members who questioned my choices way too often and that hurt. The told me I shouldn’t hold my child when she cried, that I was silly feeding her organic food, that I should smack her, they thought I was too soft on my children. These attacks hurt but I never wavered form what I knew was right. But as Aspen has turned 13 now I will be using social media to help me through it, but with the knowledge that I will go with my own heart and mind in the end. We are all unique and I won’t be pressured into being the parent I don’t want to be. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing this with #mg

  12. If you ask me, if social media ever added to my anxiety as a parent – the answer is yes, it used to. But the thing is, I have learnt to ignore it and do my own thing, so it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. We should do the best we can, and let go of the rest. Of-course there is mommy guilt always lurking around the corner, but that I believe is a staple of mommy life, with or without social media.
    Shantala recently posted…Indian Authors in American Libraries | #ChattyBlogs August LinkyMy Profile

  13. Oh yes being a parent in the age of social media is not easy. There is always someone waiting to criticise your parenting choices and there is so much pressure to try and br the perfect mum. This was a really interesting read xx #mg

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