Ahh the picture of a mom and her kid enjoying beautiful weather in a hammock. She’s perfect! She’s a rock star! She’s got it all handled. Except that day I definitely didn’t.
What this one less-than-a-second snapshot isn’t showing you is the fact that I came out to the hammock to get a little peace and quiet from the precocious four year old who won’t stop talking (wonder where that came from…./sarcasm) and won’t stop asking questions. Even after spending a day at daycare with plenty of other people and plenty of interactions she still keeps going. She is like the energizer bunny. And while I know exactly where it comes from (don’t they say your kids are retribution from your parents?) it doesn’t make it any less exhausting or frustrating sometimes.
Because the Mr. is an essential employee and works weird shift hours most of the childcare is falling on me right now; even days he’s off it is still falling on me because his sleep schedule is off and I’m the munchkin’s person. She comes to me for the majority of her requests because a. I’m usually the one to take care of them and b. I guess I’m the “favorite” right now. (A current saying in the house is “your dad is RIGHT THERE.”)
Even if the Mr. is home and I’ve locked the bedroom door she still ends up banging on the door and there’s only so much of that one can ignore. After a little while it just starts giving you a headache and you feel resigned because you’re not getting any peace anyway. I feel like the only quiet “me” time I get is after she goes to bed but I digress….
The prequel to the aforementioned photo is me trying to get some alone time when I can’t really go anywhere and she decides to follow me. It’s like having a mini-me just constantly following you, talking to you, slowing down everything you want to get done, and sometimes not letting my brain just THINK about what it is trying to do or needs to accomplish. She doesn’t stop wiggling or asking “what’s that?”; friends that we’ve been around just marvel at how she. doesn’t. stop. She was struggling just laying in the hammock and I had just asked her to stop talking and be quiet so we could listen to the birds so I could create some head space. I think that lasted all of thirty seconds.
I needed a break, I had reached the screaming part, the I’m really going to lose my $*** part that all the positive/calm parenting gurus in the world would have you believe that they NEVER do. I wanted to put myself in a time out, I wanted a moment to breathe, I wanted a moment to collect my thoughts where I could become calm mom again. She followed me outside and wanted to climb into the hammock with me.
I snapped this pic and posted it because it was my way to disengage for the moment, to mentally separate myself if I couldn’t physically separate myself. What happened leading up (and to be honest after) that moment were not my finest moments of parenthood but this picture gives the illusion of a perfect mother and daughter just hanging out together.
This is what the trap of social media can be. I may have inadvertently made some other parent feel “less than” because I did not include all this backstory when I posted the photo. I may have even included a heart eye emoji because I really do love the Munchkin and she is a truly awesome kid and yet sometimes she is a four year old not so awesome kid and I’m an almost 40 year old not so awesome adult.
I don’t know if my parents or my grandparents suffered the comparison trap the way I do sometimes; if you spend any time on social media there is always a person or a kid doing better/more than you are. I remember one comment that made me leave a Facebook group where someone talked about their 18 month old (the Munchkin was about the same age) READING. Bragging about how their child could “read” (probably not really but whatever) and asking in that humble brag kind of way: “is this normal?”. I was sitting there grateful that the Munchkin wasn’t wiping poop on the wall, hell no she wasn’t reading I didn’t care at that particular moment but also realized that my psyche wouldn’t be able to withstand every humble brag assault on social media and constantly comparing my daughter to other 18 month olds so I quit the group and never looked back.
The comparison trap is a recipe for a sinking ship; the waters of doubt or false pride get into the ship and start to bring it down. Every time I compare myself to either use it to boost my ego or wallow in self-pity about not being “good enough” I am doing something to unravel the tapestry of community. Community isn’t based on the fact that we’re identical or have become Stepford Wives; community is based on the fact that underlying all of the different wrapping paper our problems can be similar, our human desires are the same and we should rely on each other when we need to and prop others up when we can.
We, the global community of the world, owe it to ourselves and each other to move on from the comparison game and allow our threads to build trust, limit the feelings of scarcity, and create connection even when it’s not a “perfect” moment, hour, or day.