Thursday, November 06, 2014

Mommies on social media

We used to have to settle for gossiping at work or complaining to our neighbors, but social media has given us a new outlet to nurse all our grievances. I think, sometimes, this can be a useful tool—helping us connect with and support our friends and family, even those who are far away. Unfortunately, I think it's also tapped our inner narcissist, letting us get carried away with sharing constant updates and photos, often with hundreds of “friends” that just don't care. One of the main reasons I've haven't been using facebook or instagram is because I don't want to get swept up into it anymore. I want to take the time to personally share my life with those closest to me and for those more distant, they can check out my blog if it interests them.

I'll admit, it was tempting to start using facebook again once William was born. There was that small part of me that wanting to show off my new baby, seeing those 'likes' and comments tally up. And honestly, I don't begrudge people who do this. I actually love see friends' and acquaintances' vacation and family photos. But there are aspects of social media I hate. For instance, one of my friends once made a comment about being tired of being pregnant and then two of her friends were quick to comment on her post, saying something along the lines of: “You think it's bad now? Hahahaha. It only gets worse when the baby comes!” Way to be encouraging guys!

In the same vein, I don't like mommy martyrs. I don't want to hear about how you've sacrificed all your free time, sleep, independence, money and regard for other human beings all the name of your darling babe. Yeah, parenting is a hard job, and while it might be one of the most important things you ever do, it is not unique. Of course, it feels like this crazy and magical experience when you are changing the diaper of a colicky two-month-old, but having kids is something most people end up doing at one point or another. And none of us would be here if not for our own parents.

The need to brag and complain about parenthood is most likely a part of every culture. I was beginning to think, however, that my Chinese friends seem much less whiney about the whole parenting gig than my western friends, but then (once again) my eyes were opened by WeChat.

One of my Chinese friends had her first baby this past summer. She is living overseas, so I don't know much about how day-to-day life with a newborn is treating her. She occasionally posts a photo of her son on WeChat. Actually, her posts are so sparse she practically has me begging for more. Recently, she broke form and posted this little tidbit:

photo via weixin

In English, it reads something like this:

Being a mother is great profession. Although you go to sleep late, you gotta get up early. Although you make it look like a snap, it's a huge responsibility. Although you make no money, you spend a lot. Although the baby's small, there's a lot of shit to deal with. Although it's tiring work, you gotta make it look easy. Although you're making pennies, you're worried about millions. Before the baby, you were eloquent and graceful, now you are more down-to-earth. To other exhausted mothers, pass it on!

At first glimpse, I wanted to love this post. After all, it features a picture of my favorite World War Two icon, Rosie the Riveter. But this type of post annoys me a little. It makes motherhood sound kinda terrible. To be honest, I was very nervous about becoming a parent because of the unending stream of similar posts and articles I read online. They make parenting sound awful and thankless while at the same time swearing that it is wonderful and rewarding, leaving me dumbfounded.

Secondly, I feel like it is kinda whiney. Nobody likes a sell professed martyr. Part of me wonders, what if my kids one day are old enough to scroll through my old facebook/twitter/wechat history and see my constant complaining about how tough I had it taking care of them? How will they feel? I think some thoughts are better kept to ourselves.

What do you think? Are these sort of posts cute or annoying? Do you think social media is mostly a good thing or has it turned us into a bunch of whiners and braggarts?


Anonymous said...

Well, most Chinese mommies have it pretty easy, they can just leave the baby with the grandparents! :D

I guess moms get whiny because they feel they have to be superwoman, do everything perfectly in the house, take care of the baby and have a sucessful career outside. But with so many things to do, I wonder how come they have time to whine online haha.

I also don't like when mommies say having babies is the greatest thing that can happen to you and that I should have one soon. Ehm...

rosieinbj said...

Yeah, that's something I kinda wanted to write about, too. Chinese parents usually have A LOT of help from the grandparents. In fact, one of my students told me yesterday that her cousin and his wife were so tired of taking care of their baby that they took her to live with the grandmother. The baby is only ten months old! I understand some families do this when they work long hours in distant cities, but the baby's parents are here.

Constance - Foreign Sanctuary said...

I hear you about social media. I used to use facebook but now only use it for blogging purposes. I had 'friends' who had close 2000 friends and some with 1000 friends and so forth. Actually, I used to share a lot of photos on facebook but then I realized that most didn't care about where I have been or what I have done. As for the mommy posts that I personally read on facebook, I found some kind of funny as they would share what their kid said or did but as for the whiners, I felt like saying 'the world is busy.'

rosieinbj said...

I do think social media is great for bloggers, businesses, etc. It's another way to connect with people you might not otherwise!

Charlotte said...

Agree on the Chinese parents have it easy! I know of two couples who've divorced because neither want to take care of the kid. Now both kids are being raised mostly by the dad and his parents.
Love your blog and hope you get it on a self hosted platform; I've never been able to comment on here, even though i'm using a vpn.

rosieinbj said...

@Charlotte Thanks for your comment! Sorry that it's been a problem in the past. I really want to get off blogger but I'm having trouble finding time lately.

It is amazing to me how much most Chinese grandparents take on. Sometimes I feel like my m-i-l is my son's mother instead of me!