From a parenting perspective, Facebook has a lot of value to me because it serves as a way to confirm I have not lost my mind.
There have been countless times throughout this adventure called parenting that I have found tremendous comfort in seeing a post on the social network from a friend who is also a parent.
One post from a college buddy, whose name I will not mention, summed up best the mixed emotions that come with being an active parent.
His post read, “Happy birthday to my wonderful son. Since he was born, I have gained 25 pounds, gone completely bald, broke my shoulder tripping over a stuffed animal on the stairs and wrecked my car because I fell asleep while driving during the newborn phase. It’s been the best two years of my life, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
That post, and others like it, reminds me that many of us are swimming in the same proverbial parenting lake and that it comes with trials and tribulations and plenty of learning moments discovered through inevitable struggles.
It brings me much pleasure to hear some of my friends, who I went to sports camps with before we could drive and live concerts and sporting events when we were up to no good some years later, are going through similar experiences that I am on the home front.
I grew up with many of these people and it’s wonderful to know we are still growing, albeit in different parts of the world in many cases. Although we are all in various lines of work and there are many different ways to raise kids, the common bond is family and with that comes some hurdles along the way.
When I come across posts of how overwhelmed they are at times juggling work and home responsibilities, I feel relieved because I know I am not alone.
When I hear one of my friends did not watch one minute of the college basketball championship in early April because he forgot and had to bang out some work after the kids went to bed, I sympathize because I didn’t even know the game was the night before. Years ago, I would have never missed it.
When I see a photo of a friend’s son wearing a bleached tank top that’s suddenly three sizes too small, I smile because I have been there. He was apparently taking a stab at helping out around the house by during a load of laundry and it backfired because he used the wrong cycle or type of water or something. It made me feel good because a couple months ago I did something similar.
After reading of a husband and wife falling asleep on date night in a movie theater, I laughed because I know Pam and I struggled recently through our last movie during an anniversary date. It made me feel good to read of another couple in the same boat, but they, unlike us, had to be awoken by a cleaning crew an hour or so after the movie ended.
Of course, most people I know posting on Facebook feature happy family moments and pictures of the family, but there are also times when many post those occasions that bring about stress and anxiety.
I like these kinds of posts the best because they confirm what I know — parenting is tough and many of us are winging it and simply doing the best way we can.
For instance, when a buddy posted a photo of his son sitting in his booster seat at a restaurant amidst a huge temper tantrum, it made me feel good. Apparently, the kid had picked up his taco, dumped it over his own head and lost his cool because he didn’t seem to particularly like cheese, tomatoes and chicken running down his face.
I smiled when I read an account of how a friend’s little one was given a special treat of staying up late and watching a movie on a Friday night, only to a few hours later have a potty training accident that startled her awake. The poor guy’s kid had only gotten about five hours of sleep and refused to go back down. My buddy then had a steady stream of posts throughout the next day explaining what a toddler is like on five hours of sleep and how no good deed goes unpunished. It was fun to follow.
Another example was from a friend in Florida who last Father’s Day went out on an offshore fishing trip with his twin boys, 6 years old. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to track how his day went, and it didn’t go well. One boy was violently sick the entire time and there were plenty of pictures to document that unfortunate turn of events, while the other son was more interested in swimming in the water with the fish rather than being patient and waiting.
At one point, my friend stopped writing anything. It was just picture after picture of one boy vomiting over the boat and the other being constrained. The water-loving boy eventually was retrained with a mooring line and not given up enough slack to get near the edge. By the end of that long day, they had a lot of fish (surprisingly, more fish than empty beer cans), but even more stories.
When I read of a friend who went out to eat with a friend immediately after changing her son’s dirty diaper, I couldn’t help but laugh when she sat down to the restaurant and realized she had brought the nasty diaper with her in her purse. She was so sleep deprived she hadn’t noticed until her friend questioned the odor. Indeed, parenting makes us all do strange things, but at least we can find enjoyment in others’ experiences.