Recently the boys and I joined my parents in a trip to my first hometown. As we sat around with my extended family, the discussion soon led to one story after another related to parenting mishaps. “My most embarrassing moment with Logan was…” and “Once Cade…” “Do you remember when David…” We sat for several hours repeating stories that have certainly been heard by the gathered audience before. Later in the week I was chatting with a coworker about my kids and mentioned some crazy antic or another and she seemed shocked that my boys weren’t perfect angels. As I reflected on her reaction, I realized that she only knows my boys through Facebook. While my statuses are 100% honest accounts, they certainly don’t provide an entire picture. Sure, I share funny stories but I’m not telling the entire story. I’m not telling my Facebook besties about Jack’s disgusting diapers or Logan’s meltdowns. I’m not sharing every time I feel inadequate as a parent or every time Trey and I disagree about discipline methods. There is a difference between Facebook and real life. Can you imagine reading status after status of actual thoughts? “I have a wedgie.” “I hate my neck flab.” “I feel insecure around you.” “I’m not very smart.” etc. MISERABLE! I don’t want my grandma’s cousin or high school friends’ parents knowing that I am stressed about my child’s behavior or development. No, I want them to see my children as adorable and charming. I’ve known people who put ALL.THAT.BIZNESS online. I love keeping in touch with people and certainly want to know milestone moments, even those that are difficult, but I don’t want to know that your child had 3 runny diapers yesterday or that your husband is cheating. Let’s agree to a little mystery.
Thankfully I have friends and family that I can commiserate with during those difficult parenting moments. Everyone needs people in their tribe that will listen, laugh, and not judge.
Every January my book club goes on a retreat. The weekend is filled with games, wine, book talk, wine, short hikes, wine, snacks, and…um…more wine. This year we played the game “Never Have I Ever.” It is a silly game, often turned into a drinking game, in which the players take turns sharing something silly or risqué that they’ve never done and then the other players who have done the listed activity have to take a drink. The game could clearly be played without alcohol but we were already drinking. (Deep breath girls…I’m not disclosing names or details!) Each time we play, I learn more about my friends and take a deep breath that I’m more normal than I sometimes give myself credit.
I think when I’m with my tribe, sharing parenting anxieties and guilt is, for me, like “Never Have I Ever.” I feel safe, accepted, and, therefore, more willing to divulge my insecurities. Never have I ever ignored a dirty diaper until Trey was around to change it because I just couldn’t deal with any more poop…(oops, take a drink) Never have I ever lost a kid in a store…(gulp) Never have I ever cried about my kid’s bad behavior in public…(again, sip) Never have I ever judged a parent doing something I’ve totally done myself…(sigh…)