Last week I unfollowed a friend on Instagram because I just couldn’t take more of “baking with my little one” or #dinnerlastnight with beautiful pictures of scrumptious food, cautiously uploaded with the choicest of filters and hashtags, garnering hundreds of “likes”. Clearly, her day was made.
It doesn’t end here. We also have the overly “artsy” mothers who are doing these insane art projects and paintings created by little toddlers that could give any expert a run for their money (of course if their moms had hired an art and craft teacher at the age of three, they wouldn’t still be amateurs).
Two weeks into the lockdown, and we all knew we were in it for a long time. Especially the ones with kids because schools would be the last thing to open (unless you are in America and your President says, “We absolutely need to reopen schools.” God save America). The following few days, social media was abuzz with little budding chefs, artists, bakers, painters, DIY activities and it was heartwarming to see families coming together, doing such wonderful activities which had completely died down due to our fast-paced life. I wouldn’t lie; I tried all those, but none were worth posting. NONE.
Social media parenting (L) vs real-life parenting (R)
Then came lockdown 2.0 followed by 3.0, and the recently announced 4.0 (almost like updating your iOs every few weeks, except there is no option to “remind me later”) but these little kids along with their fantabulous mommies never failed to amuse me. Week after week, there were posts where picture-perfect meals were served in the most ideal setting and their kid’s flawless art prominently placed in the centre of the table that made me want to barf.
And here were my children making a tattoo on my hand (does that count as art?), eating eggs for breakfast six times a week or simply splashing water in their bathtub (mommies must try this for an uninterrupted alone-time which can go on for two hours. I timed it). And trying to figure out the similarity between atta dough and playdough.
I even saw some mothers had done a PhD on Marie Kondo, with clothes immaculately folded and sorted colour-wise. I attempted this crucial task, during which I shortly convinced myself that:
A) I was not a racist
B) Seriously pondering whether the people I am currently in self-isolation with “give me joy” or not.
No doubt many us out there are in the same boat. But hardly anyone posts about these sane (or insane!) events on social media. Why? Because it is not perfect. It doesn’t symbolise creativity, and it most certainly does not make for a pretty picture which would make people hit the like button.
According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes, “When you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical messenger called dopamine along a reward pathway, which makes you feel good. Dopamine is associated with food, exercise, love, sex, gambling, drugs, and now, social media.” So, it is but natural that we only choose to upload those posts that result in maximum views and likes, releasing maximum dopamine.
Our social-media activity has gone through the roof thanks to this pandemic. We all are home and constantly glued to our gadgets. Undeniably, these testing times should be quintessential to connect with fellow moms, with the motherhood community reassuring each other that we are in this together. We got this, ladies! That it’s OKAY to have a pretend tea party with stuffed toys as guests sitting on your sofa and serving them wine at 5 pm (children do pick up fast). That it’s not illegal to serve food without plating it like a MasterChef contestant. You need a victory lap for simply getting through the day without murdering someone!
As the world is becoming smaller and competitive, we are constantly trying to outdo each other. But the past few months have made the entire human species rethink their existence. If we don’t come together as one and support our local communities during such times, then I don’t know if it will ever happen! Mommy wars or moms competing with each other is something that most of us have experienced. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mother, there are several moments when we feel guilty or overwhelmed by the actions of others.
Our community — mothers, parents, children, teachers, even grandparents — are going through so many emotions and perhaps everyone has their unique way of expressing it, which I am not judging at all. Maybe one mother likes immaculately dressed children, sitting at a well-laid-out dining table, eating pure organic food and their rooms are oh-so-flawless with no toys scattered around, so be it! I salute you. But for the rest of us (and I mean most of us), if your day looks like a volcano has erupted in your house and your kids are again eating macaroni and cheese for dinner, please and I mean PLEASE, don’t fret! Post it online and tell your community what an annoying, crazy, nonsensical brood of “normal” children you got.
(The author is on Instagram at @motherhood_therealstory)