Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Let’s Stop Mom Shaming

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

mom shamingThere have been so many scary and sad stories in the news lately that revolve around parents and small children. First, the gorilla incident. Then the boy in Florida. Then the mom whose toddlers locked themselves in the car. While news outlets cover these stories, they also focus on the harsh and vocal judgments toward the mothers involved in these tragedies.

I am not writing about what should happen to the parents if they are found to be neglectful. I am not writing about animal rights and protections. We need accountability, sure; we need to protect children and animals, of course. What that looks like is not clear-cut to me. You may be disappointed, say I’m avoiding the difficult conversations that are at the crux of these stories.

Even more, we need to discuss humanity and fragility rather than what style of parent we are or whatever trendy conversation is happening. As others point out parents are in a no-win situation sometimes. Keeping the kid too close is helicoptering with research pointing to after-effects of anxiety and other troublesome symptoms. Putting a leash on the kid is inhumane to some, appropriate to others. A kid getting away for a few moments (or forgotten in a hot car) is, evidently in our society, assumed neglect.

I do not understand what accidents are if they aren’t, you know, accidents? I’d like to think life happens in a way that is purposeful and intentional with every move I make. I do strive toward that to some degree. But there are accidents, mishaps, and off-the-expected-path adventures I take every day. My two preschool-aged kids make sure of that especially with a newborn thrown in. I prefer my parenting not be judged on one moment alone.

I know some argue the severity of a situation matters: Would we dole out more or less judgment if the gorilla were not killed or had the mom jumped in after her child? The details somehow make a difference for others: Was she on the phone? How many kids does she have? I find that the nitpicking doesn’t encompass the complexity of life. Distraction is not necessarily neglect. It is impossible to constantly, accurately assess the safety of situations in every single moment of the day. Accidents happen. It’s ok that accidents happen. We’re human.

Can’t we just be sad that a family had a terrifying experience, deeply grieved that a captive animal was shot to ensure the life of a human? Let us take this opportunity to reevaluate safety protocol and regulations. Perhaps if we feel so strongly about the gorilla’s death we can get as excited about animal rights at large as some seem to be about burning a scarlet red N (neglect?) across this mother’s chest? Must we assume the worst of this woman while touting ourselves as better? I think we often survive, if not thrive, on blaming and pointing out others’ mistakes.

I believe all of us at one time or another (whether we realize it or not) are just a few seconds, even a split second, away from having a story that could or does end in tragedy. Most of these moments aren’t shared in the national headlines. Some of us may not share them even in the quiet dark of our own mind. It’s too painful and we block it out. Maybe that’s why we can’t let this mom off the hook. If she did something malicious or wrong, we are safe because “we” aren’t like that. If she did something human then we might have to realize the fragility of our own lives and how little control we have even when on full alert. If we blame her then we don’t have to think about how we’re just a few particulars away from being her.

I think it’s too easy to blame the parent, the smartphone, and distraction in a fast-paced society. Ok, sure. Sometimes parenting is neglectful, the smartphone a little too addicting, the schedule poorly managed.  I’m not saying we don’t need to have those conversations. But please let’s also have this conversation about our vulnerability as people, too.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Sorry, Not Sorry: My Facebook Feed is Only Kid Pics

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

facebookI’ve seen the lists. You know the Facebook etiquette lists. I’ve heard the people talk. You know the people who complain that their newsfeed is filled with other people’s kids because we’re at that age where a lot of people are popping those kids out or still have them at the cute, baby-cheeks, toddler-walk, and preschool-art phase of life. Well I fear that’s me.

I didn’t mean to become the mom that posts photos of her kids. Really. I recall lightly promising a few friends years ago that my profile picture would remain MY picture and I would not “lose my identity” by switching it to a photo of only my children. As if my Facebook profile has any real bearing on my identity. At the very least I’ve kept that promise to myself. Of course, had Facebook not added the cover photo option I may have not.

I even thought I was doing a good job. About once a month I add 10 or 15 photos into a photo album, and they all happen to be of my children. I share them for my small following of family and friends. I’m not a daily, or even weekly, poster of anything. I really thought I was doing a good job into But then I went to my profile. Profile picture aside, if you didn’t know me you’d think my first, middle, and last name must be the names of my three children because there is no other evidence I even exist unless you scroll back and take a hard look.

Please don’t hate. I’m a stay-at-home mama to three young children. Turns out, that means my children are my whole day and night. Move along unless you want photos of me paying bills, scrambling together a meal, endlessly clicking and unclicking three car seats while trying to run errands efficiently, or trying again to get a consistent workout routine. I could take those photos. I think you would want to see them even less than my children.

And let me be honest. I have other interests. I’ve got all other parts of me that have nothing to do with my kids, all those passions and pursuits I invested my life in up until I had children. On the rare occasion that I have time for them, I’m not updating Facebook! This mama ain’t got time for that!

I’ll lay it out for you. This is the season of life I’m in right now. Just scroll on by or, even better, like or comment every once in a while. After all, online is one of the few ways I interact with people over four feet tall. Likewise, I’ll take part occasionally in your food pictures, photos of you clanking your glass of wine with someone else at a bar, posed vacay pics at beautiful locals, and fundraisers or political and religious opinions. We’ve all got our baggage… err, interests… we air out on Facebook. Lucky for my children, my interests always include them.

Lynette is a mom of three children from newborn to age four. She appreciates the idea of staying connected but also that some seasons of life, like this one, leave her sleep-deprived and some days without shower. 

Being Content in Your Stage of Motherhood

Monday, May 9th, 2016

being content in your stage of motherhoodMotherhood is such a journey. You have a baby and your world changes. It changes in so many ways for the better, and then there are the harder changes. You suddenly care way less about yourself and your world revolves around this tiny being. You get less sleep, wear more yoga pants, and drink more coffee, but your world is perfect. Or is it?

Motherhood is hard. Not all days are sunny and full of rainbows. We have hard days where we cry in the bathroom and need a friend or our mom to talk to. People are always saying to enjoy the stage you are in because it goes so quickly, but this can be so hard.

Does anyone else struggle with being content where you are? I have two amazing young toddlers who I wouldn’t trade for the world, and yet I find myself dreaming of days when they will be older, in school, or not as whiny. Awful? No. Real life? Yes.

Social media tends to make this worse for us moms. If you scroll through your newsfeed on Facebook, you see pictures of moms who seem to have it all together. I can think of a couple of these moms who continuously post their highlight reel. Kids in matching dresses on vacation, moms with perfect make-up, and their families are poised and perfect. We see these things and want what they have. We want to appear to have it all together. We want our kids to be the ones who always get along, never throw fits in Target, and we want to be the moms with perfectly kept nails and eyebrows.

Material things are also a struggle for us moms. Facebook is full of groups where you can sell your kids things and buy new toys for them. I honestly enjoy these groups, but I find myself having to take a break from them occasionally. We want the best toys. We want our kids to have the nicest clothes. We see other moms who have play rooms and outdoor toys and we think, “Man, if only we had a bigger house and money to buy those toys!”

I don’t have the answer on how to be content, moms. This is something I struggle with daily. With two little ones and one due this fall, I am finding myself desiring a bigger car and a house with another bedroom. But, do I really need these things? No. I want to choose to be happy with what my family has. I mean the important things aren’t the toys, clothes, perfect pictures, and immaculate homes, right?

I want to focus on the fun. I want to embrace toddlerhood and all of the crazy that comes with it. It’s okay if my kids don’t look perfect. My daughter has decided at age 2 that she can choose her wardrobe. It’s okay if we look a little crazy in Target and my kid is eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch to get me through a long list. It’s okay if we don’t have a big house or a new car.

I want to cherish my kids every day and the gift of being a mom. I want to be content.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana where she loves the giggles, messes, and crazy outfits that fill her days. 

Getting Good Pictures of an Active Toddler

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

I’m the eldest sibling in my sibling set, and the old rule holds true for us at least: there are exponentially more photographs of me as a baby than either of my little sisters (probably combined). Of course, this was back in the film photography days, when snapping a picture wasn’t as easy as grabbing your smartphone.

IMG_0289 IMG_0290Now, with DSLRs and smartphone cameras making really high quality cameras accessible to so many people, it’s hard not to take tons of pictures of our kids. Unfortunately with toddlers, however, those pictures may be numerous, but they aren’t always great (or even good). Combine an amazingly messy creature on an insatiable quest to move constantly with a parent that never seems to have enough arms to go around, and what we are often left with is a lot of blurry pictures sent to the delete folder.

How to get better pictures of your child (see, Mommy and Daddy really do love all of you, we have photographic proof!)? Well, first stop is the equipment. The old adage ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’ is totally accurate. For many of us, that’s a smartphone. The newest iPhones take much higher quality pictures than my first digital camera ever could. If you don’t have (or don’t want) a smartphone, here’s a good list of digital cameras that should be as quick and high quality as any smartphone. If you’re shopping, you will be looking for something small and fast-focusing. The downside to these is, well, the price. Honestly, for a point-and-shoot, for me nothing beats my phone.

Second, get down at your kids’ level. Your pictures will be much more interesting if you can get eye-level with your kiddo. For crawlers this means you, too, may be crawling.

Third, light. Why is this third? I should have made it first, because lighting can make or break a photo. The most flattering natural lighting occurs in the morning just after sunrise, and again in the evening just before sunset. Obviously, toddlers will make this impossible 98 percent of the time. However, do try and get the sun or light source behind you. Watch for shadows, both from harsh mid-day sun and from trees and buildings if you are outdoors.

Fourth, have fun with post-processing. If you are using your phone, apps like Instagram or Adobe’s Photoshop app can be a fun way to manipulate your photos. Also, your toddler probably hasn’t mastered ‘duck lips’ yet, so you will be guaranteed to have the cutest pictures on social media.

Finally, DSLR kits offer a lot of bang for your buck and really let you get creative. If you’re thinking of stepping up your kiddy photography game, the two big players are Canon and Nikon (I’m a Canon girl, personally). These cameras will let you adjust the shutter speed, which is very helpful with fast-moving targets, ISO and aperture. They also offer a variety of different lenses that allow you to photograph a wider variety of subjects.

A word of caution, though: Many people buy a DSLR and never learn how to use it. It stays on Auto the whole time. When that’s the case, the camera may rarely be used as well because it’s bulky and less convenient than a smartphone. If you plan to buy one, take some time to learn to use it. There are tons of photography tutorials, both paid and free, in articles, Pinterest and on Youtube. If you prefer a more hands-on tutorial, there are lots of photographers that offer digital photography classes. The little bit of time you spend learning about what your camera can do will pay huge dividends down the road.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two super active little boys. She enjoys taking photographs of her little family as well as photo documenting their travels.

How to Stop the Mommy Wars

Monday, July 20th, 2015

_DSC8297As a mom who has gone through many evolutions of what I think it takes to successfully raise my own kids, I can relate to parents who are on many sides of the heated issues that the media loves to call the “mommy wars.” I’ve also seen several beloved moms groups split, fracture or completely implode due to where different people stand regarding these issues—even when the only people affected by the issue is the parent and child in question.

I hate that the media knows they can title anything with mommy wars and the clicks and comments and views come rolling in. They know it gets us, and that passion translates into ad dollars, which means more posts and stories and more angry exchanges over social media and eventually more lost friendships.

The problem with the mommy wars is twofold: First, social media is a relationship lens that removes boundaries. We can see and consume everything that is happening in front of us, and it gives us the illusion that we are included. Second, everything we consume is proliferated. So anything you read, comment on, or share is given new life. Every story you click on is like a starfish that you’re cutting legs off of and throwing back in the water—it multiplies. When you combine those things, it can be toxic.

With those two things in mind, here’s how you can stop the mommy wars:

  1. Don’t share or comment on things that are ignorant, trolling, or obviously one-sided just because they make you that angry. Clicks are clicks. No one cares if they are angry clicks. The only way to make stories or posts go away is to ignore them. No attention is the only way you win. It can be tempting to share things that make us mad, but when you do that, the person who put it out there wins.

    There’s no value in your opinion on it’s own. Do you have an experience, knowledge of a fact, or information that changes the story? Do you want to encourage the author? Then comment. Otherwise don’t.

  2.  Don’t give advice unless someone asks you for it. No one is ready to benefit from any one else’s experience until they ask for that wisdom. So, tempting as it may be, save your advice. Offer help, say you are there for them, offer to help them find resources, offer a listening ear, but let them ask you for what they need.
  3. Remove yourself from unhealthy relationships. There are people out there who just want to stir up trouble and make other people miserable. There are people who love drama and want it all the time. Create and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships and back off of relationships that are not healthy.
  4. Remember to engage with people in person. Talking to people with whom you disagree is actually very healthy for your brain. You can see other people’s tone of voice, body language and hear their inflection. If your group or someone you are friends with are starting to get into it online, or if there’s a post or exchange you can’t stop thinking about, have a coffee date or moms night out and discuss the problem in person.
  5. Get to know people. A little compassion goes a long way in this world. We can’t and shouldn’t have to go around explaining our entire lives to everyone from acquaintances to complete strangers. Every time I see a post from Humans of New York it reminds me of the vast stories and experiences wandering around out there in each and every body that, if we only knew them, would inspire compassion and understanding. We can’t ever know those stories, nor are they any of our business, so the only alternative is to assume they exist and just treat other people accordingly.

I don’t think the mommy wars will ever go away. But by showing restraint, compassion, and just plain walking by when ignorance raises its ugly head, maybe, just maybe, we can push them to Page 2.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City.