I have been added to a few online mom groups since I've had these babies. I'm on a couple twin groups and a couple mom groups in Chicago. I am on a car seat group and a stroller resale group. I am on a few online garage sale groups. I'm even on a couple sober moms groups, and even they can be really tough to take.
There are a few I am just so damn grateful to be a part of. What mom groups should be. What they were intended - at least I hope - to be. Encouraging and helpful and just, there at 3am when a baby (or two) is screaming and a mama just needs a friendly voice. I have made some really good mom friends through these groups. We have working twin mom lunches once a month for goodness sake. We are doing our best to get Beyonce in our group, but she hasn't responded to my many text messages and land-shark attempts at her door.
But I've also made some mortal enemies. We are not going to be friends with everybody, and that's ok. That's life.
There are groups that I've jumped off of because they are the opposite. They are shaming and discouraging and negative to the core, so I quit. After being burned a few times for stating a differing opinion - HOW DARE I - I left for greener pastures.
But I learned a lot of what not to say, of what will get you pounced and trounced upon. It's like watching somebody dump barrels of blood and watching the sharks circle. I just want to scream GET OUT GET OUT OMG RUN AWAY AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN AND DON'T EVER LOOK BACK YOU WILL FIND A NEW FAMILY AND LIFE I PROMISE JUST RUN and I have said exactly that to some moms who post naively thinking they will get support and advice but oh no......the carnage......
So I guess you could say I'm an expert at these groups. And if there is one thing these groups love, it's an expert. While I don't post there very often, I do look and I do pay attention to the posts that get the most comments. I've found out how to be popular and win friends in mom groups. I shall now share my wisdom with all of you.
Just a few HOT HOT TOPICS:
- HOW DID YOU EVEN GET YOUR KIDS. I mean, IVF, naturally conceived, adoption, surrogacy, found in a dumpster - we all have a story and none is any better or worse or less harrowing in it's own way than yours or mine. We are all parents now and that's why we are here. TEARING OUR HAIR OUT. Because we love our perfect little darlings so much every second of every day. And don't even get me started on a natural birth or a c-section. I mean, you gave birth. It's hard. It's wonderful. Here we are.
- Vaccines. Oh man do moms love to chat about vaccines. Calm, rational and well thought out comments rule the day. This has to be the number one hotly contested and argued and sworn about and name calling inciting issue out there. STAY AWAY. STAY FAR FAR AWAY. But use common sense, I mean, come on.
- Breast feeding vs. Bottle feeding. People don't have any opinion and they certainly are very open to all your concerns and problems and don't bash others in any way over their personal choice of how to feed their baby. Post a comment like "MAYBE YOU JUST AREN'T TRYING HARD ENOUGH", because well, maybe they aren't and you are just trying to be helpful. Feed your baby. That's all that's important.
- Potty training. Nobody cares if you give your kids a bulk size bag of m&ms because there is no right or wrong way to potty train a 1 year old that cannot even walk yet. Maybe wait a bit longer. There are so many ways to potty train and so many ways a kid can not be ready yet or it takes several attempts or hell, they just really wanted skittles or a poop dinosaur to hold onto instead of m&ms. Most of these kids are going to be potty trained one day, I promise you. And for those that never will be, I'm here for you too, with even more support.
- Stay at home vs. working moms. Aren't we all moms? DONE. That brings me to:
- Nannies/Childcare. Everyone has had perfect experiences with their nannies and would never ever throw them under the bus or mistrust or say that they're not doing their damn job for all the money they are paid. Same can be said for daycares or family care or any child care, really. Everyone is perfectly happy and content with their situation. You will never ever hear any complaints about them eating your food or stealing or not paying the proper amount of attention to your precious angels. AHEM. I have been shamed numerous times for defending nannies and caretakers, and well, I'm out. I am a defender of caretakers. They are doing an incredibly important job and deserve our respect or at the very least, the benefit of the doubt before flogging begins. You think you all are such saints to work for? I am a whackadoo and am just lucky our nanny has stuck around for the continuing fix, manage and control olympics that take place in our home.
- Elaborate birthday parties. There is never a time when people go way way way all the way overboard on their 1 year olds birthday parties. Back when it was my kids 1 year birthday, I was too embarrassed to post the picture of the Elmo cake I made all by myself for the family party with Sesame Street decorations. The kids were sick and cried the whole time and I'm sure glad we didn't spend a fortune planning a party that they will never ever remember.
- Nursery themes. Similar to number 7, there is no amount of money or effort too high for a baby's room. And when that room is covered in poop a year or so later, you'll laugh about all the time and money you spent trying to get the perfect shade of primrose to coordinate with that smear of "autumnal mochacinno with a hint of cinnamon" your darling little peach face left there for you this morning as an accent color. You'll just laugh and laugh. We are still scraping poop remnants from the great poop debacles of 2015.
- Television. If you let your kids watch television, you may as well check them into prison now because you've doomed your child to a life of crime and social delinquency.
- Discipline. If you ever for one second raise your voice or express any kind of disappointment in your child, you have similarly doomed him for a life of despair and crime. Lock up your valuables because you've just asked for them to be sold for drugs.
- Your Partner. He/she is terrible. He is a slob and a disrespectful lump of a "man". He/she doesn't cook, clean or discipline the kids.
Say this type of thing, "MY PARTNER IS THE WORST. HE/SHE BATHED THE KIDS AND VACUUMED AND DID THE GROCERY SHOPPING BUT FORGOT TO GET THE KIND OF BERRIES I REQUESTED. I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER I CAN SUFFER LIKE THIS." I mean, nobody is perfect, but damn, partners seem to get a bad wrap in these groups.
- DRINK LOTS OF WINE. Don't tell people you don't drink anymore, or that you just don't drink as this will make others feel badly. Even though it has nothing to do with them. You will likely be teased or "drinksplained" and that ain't no fun. Don't be a buzzkill. SEE ALSO: Meatsplaining. Don't tell anybody you don't eat meat and your kids also don't eat meat, but you're all perfectly healthy because IMPOSSIBLE (thanks Jeanna).
OF COURSE I'm being incredibly sarcastic. But if you spend any time in these groups, you know it's true, right?
More than anything else, these groups reinforce my continual learning of that old lesson that I don't need to participate in every argument I'm invited to.
Remember we are all doing the best we can. If you want to just vent about having a hard day or how your kids are being little jerks right now or that you just need 5 minutes to yourself, well, you've come to the wrong place, sister. Keep that shit to yourself. I MEAN HOW DARE YOU. You should be grateful for every single moment of every single day because there are people out there who would give anything for what you have. And yes, that is true. But it's also true that these mom groups really are here to help when a safe space to vent for a moment is needed.
A kind word or a "me too" can go miles for a mama at home who is nervous and scared that she's doing something wrong. She just needs a bit of encouragement instead of being made to feel like she's got the wrong view on everything.
There are very few hard and fast RIGHT AND WRONGS in parenting. There's a whole lot of grey matter out there and my point in writing all this is that we are all doing the best we can. How about we go a little easier on each other and not bash the shit out of somebody who clearly just needs some encouragement right now.
If you are new to online mom groups, I'll tell you this - THERE ARE PLENTY OF GOOD ONES. And a few snarky comments does not an entirely bad group make. But there are terrible groups out there. If you feel attacked or unsafe or just plain yucky being in those groups, get the hell out. You are only hurting yourself and your confidence and your overall well being by staying. Don't fight with them and don't tell them you're leaving, just leave. Stick with the winners, kid. There are plenty of kind, compassionate, like minded folks out here if you look for them.
There are great groups - online and in real life - for moms out there. FIND THOSE. Keep looking and asking other moms you connect with if they are in any good groups. It seems so vital when these kids are little to find that connection and many times we feel trapped at home, so these online groups are life savers. But make sure they are feeding your soul with the good stuff. If they are sucking you dry or making you feel worse? GET OUT. It can be incredibly frustrating and lonely out there. But equally rewarding on the flip side when you find "your people". Come hang with us. We got you.
And just remember, you never ever know what kind of impact you may have if you continue using kindness. Even if you never hear back, you may have changed someone's day for the better.
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