This is for Jenn.
Jenn has a son who is a year older than Noah. She is also a teacher, and struggles to make her peace with the time she spends away from her boy and the benefits (salary, time off, etc.) that her profession provides.
So when I put up a “Thursday with Noah” post, it can elicit strong feelings for her. More specifically, “I hate Sheri Silver” feelings.
Now – she doesn’t begrudge me my Noah-time. And she is more than familiar with the struggles I’ve experienced in my life and is totally happy for me to have this gift of a little one all over again.
But a post like this one can make her feel badly- even if it’s only for the moment – about her situation, and envy mine.
She shared this with me on the same day that I experienced the following:
My parents accompanied Noah and me on our weekly outing because it involved the High Line, which they love (and I love being with my parents). The plan was to check out this installation, walk the High Line and let Noah splash around in the water feature. The perfect post, I thought – it was a mild and sunny fall day and I had the photos cropped and edited in my head before we even parked the car.
We no sooner got up to the High Line when Noah started to grumble. He wanted to get out of his stroller and I was happy to let him walk around and explore. But he almost immediately wanted to be held. Which was fine for a few minutes but then I had to put him down. Noah receives PT for his low muscle tone and it’s important that he walk as much as possible. So I gave him the choice of either walking or getting back into his stroller. He wanted neither.
Now, I love nothing more than holding this delicious little guy. But it’s important for him to walk, and now I had already told him that I wouldn’t carry him, so I had to remain firm.
“Noah, you can either walk or sit in the stroller.”
He began to yell. Then cry. Then totally melt down. My parents waited patiently as I stood off to the side, Noah clinging to my legs and screaming to be picked up.
So I went to that place in my head that we all go to as parents. You know, where you try to convince yourself that the day ISN’T ruined. That you WILL get those cute photos you pictured in your head earlier. That you CANNOT back down because that will inevitably set the stage for a lifetime of being walked all over by your now spoiled and out of control teenager…..
I then started thinking about the blog post I planned to write about the day – would I include the meltdown? Would I share the fact that I felt like the world’s meanest mommy, making my little boy beg to be picked up while I calmly but firmly refused? What if we had to go home? What if I never got those pictures?
In this day and age of “sharing” – whether it’s on a blog, through Facebook or in a Snapfish album – we can be uber-selective in how we present ourselves to the world. Are those moments then really genuine? Of course it’s only natural to want to show our best selves – our cropped and edited photos, most picturesque settings, stellar parenting moments. And for those of us who write publicly, are we misleading our readers by showcasing only the very best and brightest “snapshots” of our lives?
I don’t know the answer – I mostly resolve it by rationalizing that no one really wants to see my crying toddler, failed cake or weedy, overgrown garden. And they most certainly DO NOT want to hear about my struggles with my business, my ex, or my kids. That this blog can’t – or shouldn’t – be about my worries for Noah, my fear that this blog will never amount to anything, or that I so often feel like everyone’s doing “it” (whatever “it” is at the moment) better, faster, or more creatively than I am.
So what’s the answer?
One of the many lessons I have learned in 20+ years of parenting is that having kids is messy, unpredictable and touches on every raw nerve you never even knew you had. But I’ve also learned that a screaming infant/toddler/adolescent doesn’t have to equate to a ruined day/dinner/vacation. You let the tantrum pass, deal with it and move on. Giving up is not an option and if you can push through and end on a happy(ish) note, then everyone wins.
Which, in the case of our High Line day, is exactly what happened.
We made it to the installation:
Noah fell in with a group of older girls and had a great time running around with them.
We had a nice lunch back on the High Line, where I discovered that Noah had a diaper that made me wonder if donning a hazmat suit would raise eyebrows (and was also most likely what contributed to his earlier foul mood – score one for “Mom of the Year” here!).
And we finished in his favorite place – water:
It was an EXHAUSTING day. And I can honestly say that I would have never shared all of this had I not seen Jenn later that evening. I would have written a sweet little “Noah” post about our perfect day, seeing art and walking the High Line – with the just-right accompanying pictures, of course. But I chose to share the reality of the day with her – and now with you . Because that’s the reality of being a parent. The difficult and stressful moments no more take down what we do than the pretty picture moments tag us as perfect.
They just make for pretty pictures.
(photo by Mel Clapman)
So what do you think? Do you want to see (and read about) the good, the bad and the ugly? Or can you read “between the blogs” and know that we all have our fair share of meltdowns? Does that make what we put out there any less authentic?