For about a year, I have been on a quest to live more simply and more intentionally.
Not to be melodramatic (but I know no other way), my oldest son is halfway to adulthood. And time just keeps ticking. My looooooooooong days of infants and toddlers are mostly behind me. Florida is currently an inferno of humidity, so at the moment, the summer feels long (but also weirdly short). During the school year, though, I blink, and it’s December.
I didn’t really purpose to dedicate a year to doing less, owning less, and leaving space in my schedule to breathe and enjoy my family.
But each time a decision had to be made of what would fill our days, I knew I had to do less. And each time the Target clearance aisle beckoned me, I resisted.
(DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THIS HAS BEEN??)
This is not something unique to me. Living more intentionally is popular right now, so I don’t pretend this is a new idea. While I will never tell you to enjoy every moment of raising kids (because there are many parts that are 0% enjoyable), I do think our culture is suffering from an epidemic of being addicted to busy and impressing each other with our busy. (I stole these words from my friend, Erika.)
And I think we have to be careful what that’s costing our kids.
I am passionate about this topic, but it’s not actually my reason for writing. Maybe one day I will delve into that. But not today.
As part of my year of slowing down, I’ve been reading a book called Savor by Shauna Niequist…to, you know, better savor the days.
On the July 7th entry, speaking about her son, she wrote a statement that I can’t get out of my head:
“We are his parents, not his marketing team.”
As I have stepped back from activities, it has given me the opportunity to observe human nature. (And before I go on, my disclaimer is that I am as guilty of this as anyone. You all know by now that I speak only that which I know…so if I speak of a problem, it’s because I know it well.)
I also must divulge that I am obsessed with my kids. Sometimes I will stare at them like a creepy stalker and breathe in their preciousness…and wonder how such cuteness can even exist on the earth.
And in full disclosure: other times I ask Siri how many days until my youngest child graduates from high school. And I can finally stop sticking to my floor.
Yesterday was approximately 5,803 days ifyouknowwhatimean.
With those disclaimers in tact, I think our culture has a weird perspective on kids.
Our obsession, in my humble opinion, teeters on the level of crazy.
I have approximately six million photos of my children. I think my mom took like 75 of me ever. And that’s a small example of the crazy. Don’t even get me started on youth sports.
It’s our job as parents to be well acquainted with our children’s strengths and give them the space to flourish. We are made to be obsessed with our kids. The only reason three year olds live to be four is because they’re so dang cute. (I cannot find a way to transition away from this statement without sounding psycho, but those of you who are enduring the three’s…YOU FEEL ME!).
Every night before bed, I look into my children’s eyes and say to each of them, “I am so proud of you. I am so thankful I get to be your mom, and I am glad you’re my son (or daughter). I love you so much.” (But, if we are being honest here…and you know how much I like honesty…this is usually after I’ve yelled at them 427 times to go to bed.)
Our kids need our love. Our crazy, obsessed love. They need to know they matter. They need to know we are grateful to be raising them. Even when it teeters on insanity.
But for some reason, we all think the rest of the world needs to know, too.
You can scroll through my Facebook feed to see that I am probably the worst about this.
BUT HAVE YOU SEEN MY KIDS???
I mean, COME ON!
I would like to implore us all to not work so hard to market our children. However, I would be the biggest hypocrite of all. Even still, we could all simmer down the crazy.
In truth, I have never been one to share the most sacred moments of my life on social media. I know it’s hard to believe, but I do keep some things private.
But I do overshare. I blame part of this on being at home alone with children a lot, which is hard for an extrovert like myself. I blame part of it feeling insecure and wanting people’s validation (because the urine smell coming from the bathroom does not validate). But most of it is because I am so proud of my kids that I want to share them with the world.
(Though let’s be honest: no one thinks they’re are as cute as I do.)
What’s my point, you may ask? I am telling you not to obsess over your kids while telling you to obsess over your kids. That makes total sense, right?
This is what I am saying: social media is what it is. I will probably always share creations Chloe makes because I am freaking proud of her creativity. (And totally jealous of it.)
(She wanted to play The Game Of Life, but we didn’t have it…so she made her own. I can’t even focus long enough to watch an episode of The Goldberg’s without busying myself, but my seven year old can make a board game.)
And I will probably always share the hilarious things my boys say because they are so freaking funny. Brett and I high five at their amazing wit. None of them can accurately aim in the toilet, but they have impeccable comedic timing. Don’t judge our priorities.
I do try to temper my posts, but clearly, I am not so successful. (I do work hard to be honest, as well, but it doesn’t come as naturally. I prefer you all to think I good at this gig.)
Social media, for better or worse, is a forum for showing the world the best parts of us.
And that probably won’t change for awhile.
The only thing we can do is adjust our perspective.
Our minds convince us that everyone’s filtered life is so much better than ours. Because that’s what a good marketing team does.
I mean, if they can make Long John Silver’s look appealing on TV, you have to know marketing works.
If I show you the best of me, it’s easy for you to believe the best of me.
And since you know the worst of you, it’s easy to believe the worst of you.
So when I brag about my kids, know that there are approximately 94 things I would rather you not see in that moment.
That I lost my mind because everyone gagged about dinner. Again.
That my three year old ate chips for breakfast and watched an hour of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse because I was too tired to care. Again.
That I may cuss a little when I look at my kitchen. THE MESS. I just can’t.
That I give my husband the silent treatment when I don’t get my way. I am so mature.
I don’t want you to see it because I don’t even want to be doing it.
And this is where I insert yet another disclaimer about how important it is to have real life relationships that allow you to see the REAL of people.
As much as I wish I could say I will never use social media as a way to show the world how amazing kids are, that’s probably not true. For me or for you.
When you see the amazingness that is all of the other children on Facebook (and the only word your five year old can spell is poop), remember it is merely a dedicated marketing team.
Even Long John Silver’s looks appetizing on TV, and we all know no one has eaten there since 1985.