What I Hide on Social Media

I have a fabulous life. No really, I do. I have two amazing children, a loving husband and family, good friends, and many interests. I get to travel to amazing places, meet amazing people, and do amazing things. Mostly, I get to raise my children and revel in the routine of going outside to play with our neighbors, shuttle from activity to activity, volunteer at school, manage our home and cook dinner. I get to do these things and so much more. It is nonstop work but it is a blessing. If you’re not convinced of just how blessed I am, check my social media feed. It’s a reflection of my life and proof positive that everything is wonderful. Or is it?

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This is me….way too much.

A few weeks ago I posted a short video of my son enjoying some grape jam at breakfast, a picture of my friend’s “Sexy Lips” necklace and a reference to one of my favorite poems, Desiderata, in honor of national poetry month. In weeks past I’ve posted pictures of date nights, spring break, sporting events and more. See? Wonderful, right?

But a few weeks ago I also had four days of sitting in an anxious place awaiting test results for a mass found in my breast. It’s a very common thing, to go through this sort of test, and this isn’t my first rodeo. But this time, I found the whole thing very stressful and nothing about the experience felt wonderful despite what I was posting on my social media. My test results came back negative but the experience made me think about my social media use, not just my mortality as a mom with young children, which is a whole other post. I considered:

  1. Why don’t I post about the things in my life that I’m working on, the imperfect stuff, the stuff that life is often made up of? Where is the balance in posting about real life without oversharing, making yourself look like a victim, or simply coming across as a whiner with a lot of problems? The truth is, I very consciously try to post more positive, fun, uplifting content, mostly because I need the reminder and perspective myself but also because I want to uplift others following me–nobody wants to be a “negative Nancy.” That said, while my intention is well-meaning, the overall outcome may be more harmful. I’m inadvertently contributing to the lack of clarity between perception and reality. My social media certainly gives off the notion that my life is totally wonderful, devoid of any real issues. While I have a blessed life, not being more candid about the ups and the downs of my life could make some teenage girl following me think that life has to be perfect and fabulous all the time. Trust me, it’s not. Hopefully, more social media influencers, celebrities, and those that really influence our children will be more vocal and conscious about posting with perspective, much like the recent Instagram post from Justin Bieber.
  2. Are parents the problem? I have an ongoing conversation with my mom friends about how best to help our children understand the false trappings of social media. For now, mine are still too young to have access to most of these tools but it’s certainly on the horizon and faster than I’d like. We typically consider our worst fears and try to determine how in the world we will teach our children about the limitations of social media content. I inevitably land on two thoughts — one, our children are growing up in a world that we, as adults, can’t fully grasp just as the generation before us couldn’t fully understand ours. With that comes the need for us to consider the importance of trusting our children to find their way, a truly terrifying proposition for me at this point. Two, children best learn about social media by talking to, and seeing how parents manage their social media. Yet, there are far too many parents who misuse and/or fall for the same trappings of social media. Are we totally screwed?
  3. How bad does it have to get before society considers putting some training, like a driving learners license, or enforced age limits around use? I applaud Instagram for starting to take steps to address bullying a few years ago and for amping it up recently with their anti-bullying feature but we, as parents, need to commit to doing more until there is a much larger solution for society as a while. We need to better use things like the Common Sense Family Media Agreement and Device Contract which helps families engage with social media in a healthier way.

My little health scare was a rare gift and the realization about my social media use and the associated perceptions was a nice distraction from worrying about my biopsy results. It made me remember that balance, as with most things in life, is always important and that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to education and social media.

The Things We Tell Our Children

Last school year my daughter, Gigi, came home distraught one afternoon—she had her first misunderstanding with a good friend. It was drama filled and in her young mind, she didn’t think they would ever be friends again. She didn’t have perspective, just hurt feelings and sadness. Like most young children, all was better within a day or so. Gigi worked things out with her friend and that began our journey teaching Friendship 101.

After a recent disagreement with a neighborhood friend, I paused while giving Gigi my normal advice. “Friends go through things from time to time,” I told her. “If you care enough about the friendship, you will find a way to work it out. All you have to do is try to communicate as best you can and that goes both ways. You have to listen as well and it will all work out.” And that’s when I heard myself.

How Bruno Mars Helped Me Become a Better Parent

Last night my daughter and I went to the Bruno Mars concert in Los Angeles–it was everything! That young man is truly talented and reminds me so much of Michael Jackson around the time he moonwalked during the Motown 25th televised show. Bruno performs with the same intensity and passion. Aside from having great music, a good voice with range, and backup dancers and singers that take you back to the boy-band era, Bruno Mars feels the music and makes people enjoy it in a way that’s truly special, like mid-career Michael Jackson.

 

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Bruno Mars XXIV Karat Magic Los Angeles Concert, November 2017

It’s probably important to note that Michael Jackson was my childhood idol. From “Blame it on the Boogie” and “Everybody” to “Lovely One” and “Beat It,” I knew almost every lyric, to every song, after first discovering him through the Off the Wall album (his best album, period). The childhood nostalgia came flooding back to me last night as Michael was my first concert and here I was with my daughter, at her first concert. It was incredibly special.

Naturally today, we are paying for it. My daughter was up and out last night much later than I’d anticipated and both of us are slower than normal. But it was worth it and a tremendous reminder to me to bend the rules occasionally and just enjoy my kids. And not just through big firsts like last night, but each day. Chucking the responsibility of managing the family schedule and making sure everyone does what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it, is necessary from time to time. I’m so happy I overlooked my daughter’s bedtime and initial concerns that the content would be inappropriate (an aside, there was a lot of cursing but if you’ve heard the album, you know as much and my kids have indeed heard the album. Judge me if you want but they now know which words they can use, and which they can’t). I’m glad that I let her have this fun experience. It’s one she (and I) will cherish for the rest of our lives.

This One Thing Could Save Your Child’s Life

There’s nothing like a good party in the car with the kids. Cue the music, roll the windows down, and sing and dance the traffic away. It’s fun and easy to make shuttling around a memorable party in the car but it can quickly go wrong. Odds are, something’s wrong with how your child’s car seat is installed or being used. Maybe you don’t have him correctly harnessed in it, you let him keep his jacket on underneath the belt, or perhaps you let him put on his own seat belt, straps twisted and all, because, well, you know, he’s a big boy now.

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It happens every day. I recently watched a car jam session I’d taped from the passenger side of our car while my husband drove us around. The kids were singing their hearts out and then I noticed, the seat belt straps on my son’s Graco harness booster seat were way too low to be effective in a car accident. There he was, singing at the top of his lungs and the harness that connects the straps were down, below his chest, closer to his waist! This is how it happens. This is how children end up severely hurt in car accidents. I’d looked at him several times during that car dance party and didn’t notice the straps until watching him on the video, days later. How did I miss this? How can I tune back in, be in the moment of checking and re-checking these belts, when so many times I’m just on autopilot? Should I leave myself a sticky note in the car to remind myself to check his car seat?

3 Lessons Mom Learned on the Vacation of a Lifetime

I’m in heaven. There’s no other way to describe it. I’m on the vacation of a lifetime, on a megayacht sailing around the French Riviera—Naples, Nice, Puerto Cervo, Capri, Portofino, Antibes, Saint Tropez, and Cannes. My days consist of sleeping in, frolicking in the sun, exploring the wonders of this clear, luring water, flirting with a certain handsome 36-year-old, sightseeing charming ruins, eating amazing food most of which is prepared by a personal chef, binge watching movies or getting caught up on some series, hiking through scenic trails along various ports, and anything else my heart desires. Did I mention that yesterday I took a 4-hour nap and that I’m vacationing without my kids? This is the type of trip that, as the young folk say, gives you life.

I know what you’re thinking–I’m on a vacation of a lifetime, it should give me life! The Siren is a 230-foot-long yacht with six guest cabins and a crew of 18. I’d have to be crazy not to feel super relaxed and like the weight of the mommy world isn’t so heavy. On the Siren, I have discovered some amazing things but they aren’t specific to this fabulous boat or trip, even though the first-class, picturesque voyage doesn’t hurt. I am just blessed to learn these few golden gems here, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and they are important lessons every mom should consider.

Lesson #1: It’s okay.

This trip took me away, and I mean mentally away, from my life at home. Because of the 9-hour time change and without the constant interruption of little, well-meaning people who like to say, “mom, mom, mom,” I have completely disconnected from the mommy load. We all know it’s important to disconnect and recharge from time to time, without kids and without the guilt of not being with kids. That guilt part, however, is difficult.