Birthdays are such a pervasive part of social media, you wouldn't think that I'd dedicate entire columns to how parents talk about them. Ever since the beginnings of Facebook, we've been able to tell our friends and one-time acquaintances 'happy birthday,' which remains a popular "in the know" feature. It makes sense, then, that parents are so eager to wish their children -- who aren't on Facebook and in many cases can't read yet, much less talk -- a happy birthday online, where their adult friends can all chime in with Likes and smiley faces. There was a time that I wondered why parents did this at all, as it seems counterintuitive to "talk" to people who aren't actually in your network or on the internet, but I've started to come around on that as more and more of my friends have written heartfelt messages about their kids, and not necessarily to their kids, on their birthdays. Their kids' *real* birthdays, that is.
You see, right around the time that I conceded to accepting these maudlin, annual birthday updates, parents began their love affair with "monthly" birthday updates. It started with text-based status updates or nondescript photos, but has blossomed to include custom wardrobes and props. Whoever came up with the idea for the "monthly birthday" onesies is a fucking genius, because parents absolutely love scooping up a 12-pack of those bad boys for their baby's first year. It's an easy way to convey information (a baby wearing a onesie that says "I'm 6 Months Old" is pretty self-explanatory), and it's a decent excuse for parents to share a monthly image of their growing baby on Facebook. I get it. Sometimes there's even a note about how much stuff the baby knows, or what the baby's favorite foods are, as if anyone is going to read and retain that information. To me, that's like posting a screenshot of a page out of a baby book (and no one reads those, not even the kids after they're grown), but hey, to each her own.
But I digress. The point is, monthly onesies are totally commonplace Facebook fodder in 2015, and while I understand parents' desire to post them, what I don't understand is the occasional use of the word "birthday." I guess you can technically have a "3-month birthday," but can you really? Doesn't it take away from the concept of a birthday when it occurs every month? I'm not so sure the lasting effects of wishing a child a monthly happy birthday (i.e. "Congratulations, time has passed and you got a little older!") are good for a kid's psyche. Shouldn't we be celebrating children on the actual day they were born, rather than every 30 days, or worse, every SINGLE day? If someone clapped their hands every time I put on pants in the morning (when I do choose to put on pants, that is), I would probably start thinking that I'm hot shit just for yanking up a pair of dirty jeans. Perhaps we shouldn't set the bar so low that we're encouraging children to feel as though *every day* is their birthday. We could raise those standards a bit, right?
Well, not according to the parents in today's column. This column goes beyond the monthly birthday onesies, which we've all seen so much that if I posted a column about them I might get strung up like a piñata at Nevaeh's big 15-month birthday bash, and delves into the world of parents who commemorate their babies on other, seemingly less remarkable days of the year. It's a kind of subjective tomayto/tomahto argument in the sense that these are parents who look at their sweet children and consider each day symbolic and in need of celebration, whereas I'm a cold-hearted childless jerk who considers each day "another random day in the yearly calendar," but I think the message is still worth putting out there. Parents, if you have the urge to celebrate your kid for existing each and every day, by all means, strap on your party hats and bake some cupcakes. But you might want to reconsider posting about it on Facebook. Most of us have too many birthdays and milestones in our newsfeeds as it is. We don't need an extra reason to celebrate your kid. Also, I'd be shocked if someone wasn't working on a 365-pack of onesies to be used for this very purpose. They'll probably sell out on Etsy before you can say, "Grayden is 109 days old today!"
Does Matthew post about his daughter's age by the day, every day, or was this just a rare update about her "post-200 days old" status? I'm aware of the Baek-il Korean tradition to celebrate a baby's first 100 days (based on the low survival rate past that age many years ago), but the only thing that came up when I Googled "200 day baby celebration" is an Us Weekly story about an Instagram photo posted by a young Duggar who was celebrating her "200th day of marriage." This tells me Jill Duggar is SO going to celebrate her future baby's "201 days old" on social media and call it a milestone. When all is quiet and you're alone with your thoughts, ask yourself seriously, "Do I want to be like a Duggar?"
2. #TBT Ur Doing It Wrong
I'm not saying you can't Throwback Thursday to only one week ago, but if you do, it's gotta be good. Sure, having a baby is an incredible feat, but so is climbing Machu Picchu, and I don't need to be reminded that someone just did that seven days prior if the person has already posted about it -- even if there was cake involved.
Here are things worth posting about for #TBT even if they only happened one week ago:
- meeting Bill Murray on the street and somehow taking a 4AM helicopter ride to his favorite Skee-Ball arcade
- winning the lottery over $50K (bonus points if you post about donating a large portion to charity, natch)
- eating a whole burrito that's exactly your size and weight
- escaping a zombie attack
That's about it.
3. And So It Begins...
Okay, this is sweet, but it's also foreshadowing. How am I to believe that Adrienne isn't going to wish her baby a Happy 2 Day Birthday, or a Happy 72 Day Birthday, after reading this update? I can't and I won't. Adrienne is the reason monthly onesies were invented. You know she's practically drooling at the thought of all those future photoshoots. Press the brakes, Adrienne! You've been a mother for 24 hours and your baby carriage is already wheeling out of control.
4. Weekly Developmentjacking
I think there are a lot of women like Ashley, ready to pounce on their "friends'" status updates with constant reminders that their babies are suuuuuuper close in age. But that's the thing with age! It doesn't speed up or slow down for anyone, unless you're Benjamin Button, so pointing out birthday similarities is pretty much pointless. If I had to take a wild guess, I'd say Ashley relishes in reading Facebook so she can keep up this mommyjacking comparison game until Allison finally defriends her, but that's probably because this submission came with a second example:
Give it a rest, Ashley. You're just provoking Allison, and frankly I think you could both use a refresher in what makes an interesting status update. For instance, when a fetus is a certain size, people will extend their facts to include tidbits like, "That means she's as big as a spaghetti squash!" How come they don't do that after birth, too? 10.5 pounds, 21 inches long sounds like a small Honeybaked Ham to me. I'm just trying to help here, folks.
5. Everyone's Favorite Aunt
Gee, Sierra, don't go out of your way to mention your kid's totally random age before wishing your nephew a happy birthday or anything! Good thing you know how to make each kid feel special, and you don't overemphasize the importance of your own kid in the process! That would make you sound like you only use other children's birthdays and achievements as an excuse to blather on about your own son, and obviously you would never do a thing like that. Not a sonogram-as-avatar-using mom like you. No way!
6. In & Out Day
"In & out day" is something that came to my attention a year or two ago, but I've only recently come to terms with the fact that it exists. I can handle the "smash cake" first birthday phenomenon; I can handle the monthly onesies trend; I can even handle "breast milk pendants" to commemorate the end of nursing. But this, I cannot give my stamp of approval. This is a made-up holiday that will over time become an actual Thing that parents celebrate, complete with photoshoots of babies wearing tutus and butterfly wings. Fly away, stupid holiday made up by a Pinterest mom. Fly away.
7. Mom's Gold Star
Last but not least, we have the Conception Day update. I've posted about this before, and whenever I do someone in the comments is like, "Hey, you don't know how long Harry and his wife tried to have a baby before they conceived. YOU DON'T KNOW HOW HARD AND LONG THAT PROCESS CAN BE." And while I do understand that perspective, there's really no justifiable reason for Harry to call attention to this day on Facebook except to not-so-subtly say, "My sperm is viable and made an awesome baby ON THIS DAY. Who's impressed??!" No one is, Harry. No one is. Least of all Katrina, who just earned herself a Gold Star for passing along that piece of advice. Now THAT'S something deserving of celebration.