Why I Won’t STFU About My Daughter On Facebook
Before I had my daughter, I was determined not to flood my social media streams with annoying pictures, posts and updates about her. I read all the sites that made fun of parents who do annoying things like live tweet contractions and describe dilated cervices on Facebook.
I would be cooler. I had single friends. I had professional contacts. I had dignity.
One week after my daughter was born, I uploaded 50 photos of her to Facebook. My sister messaged me to let me know that I was already clogging her newsfeed. “So block me,” I wrote. After that, I began my days as an unrepentant oversharer of the parent variety. I’m the one you hate and I don’t really care.
Parenting is a scary and often isolating journey. In those early days, during maternity leave, she and I would spend hours together staring at one another. Too tired for playdates or coffee dates, I spent much of my time holding my daughter while she ate, cried, or slept. When I did put her down, I made food or showered or on the rare occasion, I vacuumed. Late night feedings could take hours and I didn’t always have the wherewithal to read my massive tome on the history of cancer or that sprawling literary novel. So I tweeted and Facebooked. I wrote things like, “Ferber is harder on me than her!” And “My boobs are going to fall off!” Yes, they were stupid. But the replies, the “Likes,” the community that built up around me during those rough early days was invaluable.
“Hang in there, mama!”
“Babies are evil!”
And, “Take her for a drive. That will put her to sleep.”
Those simple comments, more often than not, pushed me back from the ledge of crazy. One afternoon, as I struggled to get my daughter to nap, I felt and exhaustion-induced panic rise in my throat. I started sobbing. Just give me one moment alone! I screamed into a pillow while I listened to my daughter’s wails from the other room. So, I posted on Facebook. “If this baby doesn’t go the #(*%$(^* to sleep, I might die.”
Seconds later, my friend, with a 3-year-old daughter, replied, “Hang in there. You are a good mom. She can cry for a bit. Put your computer in her room, turn on some white noise and jump into the shower. You’ll get a break.”
I did just that. Five minutes later. I came out of the bathroom, clean, relaxed and my daughter was sleeping. Not every overshare brought such magical results, but just the ability to share and reach out to a community of women who loved and supported me, even if they thought I was a smidge crazy, made all the difference.
When my daughter had difficulty napping, Twitter helped me figure out a better napping schedule. When I had problems making food for her lunch, Facebook friends had excellent suggestions.
I’m sure I annoy people. But I don’t care. Do I love it when people “Like” a picture of my daughter? Sure. But I don’t live and die by affirmations of her cuteness. I’m a doting parent, but I don’t expect everyone to love my daughter as much as I do or be thrilled with Instagrammed pictures of her throwing food. But if you don’t want to see it. You don’t have to. Other people annoy me all the time with their pictures of food and updates about their cat. I rarely block them and I don’t leave them angry messages because my annoyance levels say more about me than it does about my fellow oversharers. And I hope other people on the internet give me that same level of grace. If they don’t they are free to block me from their newsfeeds. I won’t be offended.
At its core, social media is community. And when you have a baby and you are going insane, because all of a sudden you have to care for this mewling little creature on zero sleep while your boobs bleed and your vagina aches, that community is a wonderful valuable place to be.
So, go ahead. Overshare. I’ll be the first to write you back with a little, “Hang in there, mama” or “Your baby is so cute!” comment for your human baby or your feline baby, whatever. Because whatever else the internet is, it is at its best when we are supportive and loving.