Like so many other mornings, we played in the lake. Only this time we let the baby out of his pac-n-play. Ryker, my oldest, is behind Van making sure he doesn’t fall backwards. Willa is telling him to smile. Van can’t wait for me to take the picture so he can resume sneaking handfuls of sand into his mouth. I honestly can’t watch them smile and splash around today without feeling sick to my stomach.
Several states away there is a mother who recently returned from her family vacation. She unpacked the suitcases. She unfolded the tiny clothes her son will never wear again. She wakes up in her own bed and—for just a second—wonders if this all really happened. It just doesn’t seem real.
As a parent social media can be many things…
It can be fun. Sharing pictures of your kids from their first day in the hospital, to high school graduation. A first bike ride or ice cream cone. Videos of little feet taking their first steps. I haven’t seen some of my sorority sisters in ten years, but I love sharing photos of our children.
It can be helpful. There are several parenting groups I have joined since I became a mom. Some for new mommies, others for Cleveland moms to ask questions or share supplies, even a private group for those who struggle with infertility or are looking to adopt. If you can’t figure out how to install your car seat correctly, there’s a facebook group for that too.
It can be incredibly judgmental. Stories about real people—happy or sad—are put through a series of unknown tests. People are eager to type away reasons why you are failing as a parent. Complete strangers make you question yourself, your beliefs or humanity all together. All the while, these comments are read, shared and deeply impact real human beings.
It has the ability to unite. When you become a mom, the initiation is immediate. There are blogs for “bad parents” who share how difficult this gig really is. Instagram accounts dedicated to parental mishaps and daily struggles. Prayers are requested and given by thousands—sometimes millions—for people who you have never met.
When I think of the parents in recent media stories my heart literally breaks. I question my faith. I question why I have three healthy kids when so many others do not. I wonder what it is that I can do differently to help make this world and my little soldiers…better.
The thought is overwhelming. So I will start small.
I will make a choice when I see a story or a picture from another parent. It does not matter if I know them. We are all still parents, together.
I will remember that words are powerful. I will choose to lift people up. I will offer my support, my prayers, my thumbs up emojis.
I will remind myself that I make mistakes. Every single day with my own kids, I don’t get it right. But I will continue to try my hardest and remind other parents to go easy on themselves.
I will keep in mind, no matter how different the parent is on social media from myself, they are still someone’s mother or father. They have little people who think they hung the moon.
I will be a better mom. A better wife. A better daughter. I don’t know how, but I will start by hugging my kids more, supporting my husband and calling my parents every morning. Because at the end of the day, they are all still here. And that makes me the luckiest person in the world.