If a mother cuts the crust off her child’s grilled cheese and doesn’t post a photo of it on Facebook, did it actually happen?
You can’t log in to Facebook without discovering how inadequate you are as a mother – nay, a human being. Guess who ran 8 miles before work? Guess who cooked a macrobiotic meal for her four children? Guess who crafted a bidet for their master bathroom made entirely out of re-purposed ocean waste? The easier question is, guess who didn’t. You. As a result, a casual stroll down your news feed may make you feel anything from inadequate to enraged at the audacity of that bitchy braggart mom. The thing is, I suspect that a lot of Facebook posts aren’t as much about bragging as they are about our desperate human need to have someone – anyone – appreciate us. A need that motherhood basically rendered permanently unfulfilled.
I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by polite human beings. I’m not saying strangers on the street were offering me kidneys, but I have, for the most part, experienced life in communities that seem to value basic human kindness. My mom thanked me for loading the dishwasher (even though she probably had to tell me to do it seven times), strangers thanked me for saying “God bless you” after they sneezed. Teachers thanked us for pushing in our chairs before leaving class. All fairly minuscule occurrences in one’s life, yet I was acknowledged and appreciated for them. As a result, trivial offences such as not thanking me if I hold a door open for you send me into the kind of fiery rage a more reasonable person reserves for occasions resulting in blood loss or dismemberment.
And then you become a mother. And your entire life becomes the equivalent of not getting a wave from a driver you let pull out in front of you. Being a mother means doing more for a human being than you ever imagined possible, let alone have done before. I may have held a friend’s hair back as she puked after a party in college, but I certainly never willingly held out my hands as a welcoming receptacle for the vomit. I most assuredly did not stay up for the rest of the night cuddling said friend until the next bout of barfing occurred…all over me. Yet, you know what drunk friends are really good at? Thanking you. You throw a blanket on them before they settle into a fitful sleep and you are rewarded with simply dozens of slurred “thank yous”. But the precious toddler you just changed the sheets for 3 times in one night? The one whose back you rubbed until you’re fairly certain you’ve acquired carpal tunnel? The one you made jello for at 3 am? That kid’s lips are sealed.
As a mother, it is my job to help my children acknowledge and appreciate generosity and kindness. In other words, to not be complete assholes. I am constantly reminding my girls to say please and thank you. If, on a particular occasion, they need more reminders than usual, we have a private discussion about the subject. My husband and I are trying our best to not raise a couple of complete ingrates, and we’ve been fairly successful…when it comes to someone other than their mother. Because gratitude very rarely comes Mommy’s way. I can remind my girls to thank me seventy-five times a day, but they still will probably forget to show any gratitude when I bring them a cup of water an hour after they should have been asleep.
And so mothers turn to Facebook to fill our void. Your children didn’t appreciate the dinner you prepared for them? Post it – you’re bound to get a few likes. Your children didn’t kiss your feet for planning and throwing them a successful birthday party? Post it- with pictures – and you’re bound to get some “Gorgeous!” comments. Your children didn’t express utter reverence when you and your husband made them the coolest freaking Halloween costumes ever? Post it – with pictures – on Facebook AND a blog you started – and you’re bound to earn some adoration elsewhere. (Ahem).
So the next time you are tempted to roll your eyes and are considering writing a snarky comment that says, “congra-feckin-lations” under some supermom’s post, reconsider. Maybe she just needs someone – anyone – to appreciate her. Or maybe she’s an arrogant little bitch who wants to remind you how much better she is than you. What do I know? Go with your gut.