Everywhere I turn, moms on the internet are painted as these sweatpants wearing couch trolls, who are pinning away while simultaneously playing Candy Crush and spying on their high school ex-boyfriends. Meanwhile, their kids are running free, empting toilet paper rolls and shampoo bottles into the bathtub. Please. That has only happened to me like… twice… with this last kid. Maybe more if you count the others. I need a lock for that bathroom door.
Anyway, in my opinion, mothers take the brunt of the criticism when it comes to our new wired world. There are ironically viral blog posts about missing your children’s childhoods with pleas to unplug and run wild and untethered to electronics. I appreciate the sentiment to remember simpler times and appreciate moments with your kids without any screens involved. Being hands free would put me closer to my true mental generation- the 80s, where I could wear ill-fitting jeans and giant sweatshirts in peace. But in my world, technology is a bell that can’t be un-rung. And while I could stand to cut down on some of the more ridiculous aspects of it (I am crazy good at the “Where’s My Water?” app) I will completely unplug when you pry this laptop from my cold, slightly carpal tunneled hands!
You see, I think the internet helps me be a better parent. I was the first of my immediate friends to have a baby. Living eight hours from family at the time, had me coming into this gig needing resources for most things. Why isn’t she sleeping? How do you swaddle like those awesome nurses in the hospital do? What the hell is coming out of his eyes? Why isn’t he walking at 13 months? Is it ok if your kid eats dog food? Google and I have a close, personal relationship where I plug in my failings, and it gives me some answers. My pediatrician wants to give me advice like “give it time,” and the internet does a better job of filling in the gaps.
Also, being connected to the internet has ironically helped me from going completely into hermit mode. We have moved a lot over the last thirteen years. Left to my own devices, I would have probably dragged my introverted self to the park on repeat in our various new locations and hoped for the best (and I have a mean case of “resting bitch face” that would’ve made those trips futile, I tell you!). Five years ago, after a huge move to Tennessee, I was able to connect with local moms on the Internet and later at face to face meet-ups. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and met a great group of women, several of whom remain my friends today. I’ve moved since then, and I still count on the web to help me find playgroups and free events to meet people. If my family waited around for me to go old school and bake cookies in order to meet our neighbors, we’d all be pretty hungry and lonely.
The Internet has also been a huge help for me when things in my life have gone wrong. A little more than two years ago, I entered my OBGYN’s office excited for my initial appointment for my third pregnancy. In the span of a few minutes, things went from joy, to confusion, to eventual sadness as my doctor stoically stated that I had suffered a “missed miscarriage” and would need to wait for my body to end my pregnancy on its own. My previous pregnancies were very textbook, so my knowledge of miscarriages came from passages in pregnancy books and a fuzzy recollection of a 90210 episode. I was not prepared for the physical symptoms (especially as my body did not ever get the message that something was wrong, leading to my eventual D&C) or my rollercoaster of emotions. Stories shared by brave women on the internet, including this very site, became my refuge and comfort.
I have also evolved a great deal as a parent from the birth of my first child in 2005 to my third a year ago. My thoughts on what I would love to do and never do have been challenged throughout the years, and the Internet has helped me explore options I would never have given a second glance to left on my own. Cloth diapers moved from “hell no” to “why not.” Baby wearing went from “no thanks” to “maybe occasionally, but this baby is still hella-heavy.” And while I don’t think I am married to any specific method of parenting, blogs and parenting sites help me pick and choose what works for my situation and at least give me a glance at the perspective of those to which I don’t personally subscribe.
So yes, Time.com, I do apparently waste an enormous amount of time on Facebook. But, in my defense, as a person who has to psych herself up to use the telephone to call the local pizza place, Facebook is probably the only reason I didn’t become one of those mothers no one ever hears from ever again after having children. And yes, I do go through phases where I pin an awful lot of crockpot meals. However, without Pinterest, the only thing I know how to make is chili, and my kids HATE chili. I’ll take the good, and try to balance out the bad that comes with a world that is constantly connected. Just please stop trying to make me participate in an Internet cleanse, ok?
(Image: getty images)