Sunday, May 4, 2014

For Each Encounter

Over and over I face it, as I look at the screens or glossy pages.  Someone, somewhere stating how they are doing things.  And their statement, all shined-up and presented in its Sunday best, seems to be saying their way is the best way.  And what’s more: in saying that, they heavily imply the other ways are wrong.

It’s so exhausting.  It’s the biggest thing that makes me want to remove the internet from my life.  It’s the reason I spend less time with some people in person, because often they just don’t save it for the keyboard.

I’m a thinker.
I think long and hard and I like to find the best solutions to things I do, regardless of what I’m doing.  I like to do that.  I like the thrill of the hunt for my best bet.  And if I’m not careful I’ll go crazy, because I can do that to everything.  And I mean everything.
So this motherhood during the social media era thing… it’s not ideal.  People are ALWAYS sharing what they are doing and why, and why it is the best. (Meaning, I’m always having to rethink my thought out choices.)
It starts with pregnancy and birth and goes on to baby sleep, feeding choices, screen time choices, family meal choices, and school choices, and life choices, and everything choices.
And what they share is always best.  And they want you in their club.  And they want to sell you their club so bad.  They often are trying to help.
But I think it usually just boils down to we don’t want to be alone.

Because motherhood is very lonely.
I don’t care how many friends you have or kids you have, or how supportive your co-parent is, being a mom is a special kind of lonely.  It’s heavy, and the weight makes you feel desperate to be right.  Because if you are wrong, it’s not just about you, it’s also about the love(s) of your life.  NO ONE wants to ruin the love(s) of their life.

So we shout (in a speaking voice... or more often with our fingers) about how we ARE right, so we can try and breathe.

We compete with magazines.  ALL of them---even if we don’t agree with them.  We wanna be perfect.  I’ve never seen it happen to women as furiously as it does to moms.  It eats us alive.  And nowadays, our desperation comes across in well-groomed photos, and perfectly-phased quips about our life, “spoken” and “heard” out of context all day long.

We pick our stance and we say it is right. And we have to stick to our guns, so we don’t mess our families up.  If we change our minds what would that mean for them, for us, for the people watching us?  So on the days we feel less right, we pick out articles to makes sure to prove we are right.  Maybe we share the link for support gathering.  We take photos of ourselves and our families to prove we have it together.  And we post them to see if anyone will notice our efforts and tell us nice things.

It’s just that, you know the day you post your victory it is very likely that it’s on the same day someone is facing defeat.
Social media makes it really hard to follow Romans 12:15--16: “Rejoice with those who rejoice (sharing other’s joy) and weep with those who weep (sharing in other’s grief).  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to people/things and give yourselves to humble tasks.  Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.  (From the Amplified Bible)

You don’t know if someone is having a hard day (when they are just "dying in motherhood" --- it happens to all of us) when you share your "I’m rocking this out" post.  Realistically, on the day we post that “I’m doing so fantastic” post, someone is having a bad day --- and likely your post is pouring salt all over  that day’s wound.

It sucks, yeah…because well, how can anyone rejoice with us then if we never post our joys.  But maybe social media shouldn’t be where we first seek joy fulfillment?


I think if we stop before we post, and just check our motives. Do our best to ensure our posts aren’t trying to prove how right we are (whether it be in plain sight, or veiled attempts), and perhaps stop trying so hard to convince ourselves (in front or our "audience of tons") that what we are saying at that moment is there every moment.  Maybe that would be better.  Not every moment is good.  That’s okay.  Good times are better because hard times are hard.

And maybe if we didn’t edit everything down so much, we’d be more authentic?

But what’s more...  I think just saying less online would be good sometimes. Here’s why I think that: In trying not to feel alone, we often use status updates and links to show all the ways we are “doing it right” and gather up others who are “doing it right” with us.  But here’s the thing-- when we do that, we really just isolate ourselves more.  Because no one is gonna do everything we do.  They can’t possibly. We are each individuals, unique.  So even if people eat like us, they likely aren’t gonna parent just like us.
 As we wield our keyboard swords, we are making people all around us feel wrong for how they are doing life.  So how much time can they possibly want to spend with us?  Sharing strongly-worded things about hot topics online can easily make people (who feel differently on the subject) feel less than comfortable spending time with us, because even if we only type out our thoughts, it’s not like they can’t remember those words while spending time in person with us.  It’s not tons of fun spending time with people who condescend on our hard-fought battles, and have come across in some way as better than us.  And remember-- just because someone likes our posts about one subject, doesn’t mean they aren’t possibly hurt by our other posts.  It’s not always worth it to share every single thing we believe in online.  Sharing online is NEVER in context.

And here’s the thing, we don’t need to be correct in front of anyone but ourself/our family and God.  He made each of us very different.  He made everything from our digestive tracts to our brains, our emotions and interests very very different.  We don’t need a club of others validating the nuances of our day to day lives.  We just need to go where he is calling us.  In the mundane things of motherhood: in the small (but so freaking BIG online) choices of the baby days, in the choices every day after that.  We just need to go where he is calling us.  (And let’s not forget, he often surprises us by calling us a way in which we never saw coming. That applies to everyone.)

I know he doesn’t have laws about LOTS of motherhood matters-- Like sleep styles, pacifiers, wood vs plastic toys, type of schooling, etc, etc.  He gives us freedom.  We need to give others the same freedom.

And I think we should remember that overly stating which freedom we choose can often be hurtful to others.  We all have the right to choose.  And he calls each of us to all sorts of places.  No one is going down the same path.

I keep thinking that if I had more time I’d LOVE to make a website for moms that shows a host of people who’ve grown up into desirable adults, and put them all on a chart showing which different choices their parents made.  Like if they used pacifiers, or formula, or breast milk, or both.  If they co-slept, crib slept, never slept.  If they homeschooled or public-schooled, maybe even dropped out of school---just so we moms could look at the chart and think it’s not all up to us, that people can turn out pretty great no matter the details.  I think that might be eye-opening.

We might not want to make the choices other people are making.  But since when is that new?
Did you ever think everyone on earth was gonna choose your college major?  Did you try and make sure everyone did?  I’m guessing you respected someone’s choice to be something different, do something different than yourself.
Just because you like or dislike it doesn’t mean someone else does.  And in the end we are all happier for it, being who God made us.
Same idea applies to us as moms: I think it’s just hard to remember that because the cost of our choices is no longer on just us.  We start to worry.  We start to question who we are.  Because what if who we are is wrong for our family?

What you picked do to as a mom, is right.
It works for you.
And when it doesn’t?  Be real, you tweak it.  You make it work for you.
You are doing good.
And it’s okay if it doesn’t work every day.  Nothing works every day.
It’s OKAY if no one else is doing it with you.
You don’t need to convince anyone.
If someone doesn’t like it, it doesn’t matter.
And if someone is doing something different than you, and it’s working for them, it doesn’t mean you are wrong.
And if you don’t ever want to do what they are doing, it doesn’t mean they are wrong.
It means everyone is different.
And that goes for each kid.
And that goes for each conglomeration of people creating a family.
God made us, us.
And God gave us our family.
And he knew all of us before the dawn of time.
He leads us and guides along paths he knows.
If we listen to Him, not everyone online, we will be just where he asks us to be.

I’m writing to myself today.
The Facebook posts this week (who am I kidding, every week) have really been too much for me, which is honestly why I posted this picture of my kids fighting today.  I don’t wanna buy into the “perfect” internet face game.
Just a little reality check.  Motherhood isn't always what we post online.  It gets real.

But, even if I’d like to, I’m never gonna change the way people post online.
People have the freedom to post the they way they’d like.
(Personally, I think that often TONS of things would be better not-said at all --- that being a big part of this post {Reiterating here, the reason being is that we don’t know what kind of moment our statements are encountering -- it’s not always the right moment to hear something.}  But everyone has the freedom to post whatever.)
 So it’s my job to let it go when it bugs me and hits me hard on hard days, to turn to God and ask him if what was shared really applies to me and my moment anyway.
So every day I’m gonna need to wrap myself in who God says I am.  Who God made me, who God gave me in my family.  And make the best choices I can.


No one else has specifically what we have, or is where we are, so no one can do what we can do.
We don’t need to be the same.

Good days and bad days
We are all doing what we can.
Let’s all say yay for each other.
Let’s all let go of doing it “best” and start doing what God has called us to do.
Jesus did a lot of things that caused others to question.  And he didn’t really seem to do it the same way anytime he did things.  He tailored his love to each of his encounters.
Let’s give others that freedom too, ourselves included --- to love in the right way for each encounter.


  1. I catch myself doing this all the time. Thanks for the reminder to just be the best mom for your kids, and let everyone parent the best way for themselves!

  2. I really appreciate this post- as I new mom I've thought long and hard about my parentin choices and how each child is an individual who requires bein raised in their own unique way- this has given me freedom to let God guide be more each parenting moment- thanks again- lydia
    P.s. I love your whole blog and am interested in a vbac

  3. So well said. I've found this so often to be true in trying to find solutions to infant sleep. I read 6+ books, all "yelling" at the other camp. They were trying to be helpful, I guess, but that kind of criticism is never helpful.
    Great note on fb posts. I never thought I could be hurting someone by sharing our joys. I guess I feel like life is always hard, for everyone, so I sometimes post cute, happy pics of my little one thinking it might bring a smile to someone's day. I rarely post negative things, because I know people have enough problems of their own. I never thought of it from that perspective. Authenticity is always important. Thanks for bringing a different viewpoint. :-)

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