The Social Media Effect.

I’m looking at you, Facebook. You too, Twitter. And *especially* you, Instagram.

An old school friend messaged me back in May 2016. It was lovely to hear from her, but something she said resonated, and not in a positive way.

‘Hi Jo’, it read. ‘You seem to have this baby thing under control…’ (And then she asked for my recommendations on dribble bibs and vests.)

You see, I *didn’t* have it under control. Or rather, I did, to an extent, but it had taken me a while to get there. Primrose was eight months and I was in the middle of a course of CBT for the anxiety and excessive worry I had experienced postnatally. Of course, Facebook didn’t tell this side of my journey into motherhood. The pictures I posted suggested that I was merrily skipping through each day without a care in the world. Yes, some days were brilliant, Primrose was healthy and happy, and we were two months into weaning, which was going well BUT there had been moments in the past eight months that had left me wondering if I was cut out to be a mother at all.

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I replied with my recommendations about bibs and vests but also suggested that I should post some pictures of me tearing my hair out because Prim won’t nap, or of her going so rigid that I can’t get her in the car seat… I haven’t, of course, because the last thing on my mind during those moments is taking a sodding picture, but I did vow to be honest from that moment on, if anybody asked me. “Are you enjoying being a mummy?”

Fast forward five months and I was chatting to another old school friend (funny how having babies brings you back together, like a giant cyber mum club!). She confided that things were harder than she’d ever imagined and shared my experience in the hope of making her feel less alone. Her response? ‘Oh my life, Jo – Facebook paints such a different story.’

Gah! I was/am one of those people adding to this rose-tinted world of parenting on social media!

So, for heavens’ sake, don’t believe everything you see on Social Media (mine included!).

  • Don’t trawl through Instagram at 4am, wondering why other people’s babies look like they’ve crawled out of Baby Vogue whilst you’re sat nursing for what seems like the billionth time that night, surrounded by muslins, nipple shields and a leaking bottle of Infacol.
  • The same goes for their homes: tidy and, in some cases, STYLED! Absolutely fine if this is your thing – I love a decent bit of interior design as much as the next person but that beautiful door could be about to buckle under the amount of crap hidden behind it, there may be a mountain of ironing languishing behind that gorgeous sofa with its plumped cushions and, somewhere just out of sight are at least three cups of cold tea. Instagram is the absolute worst offender for this!
  • Don’t believe that everybody experiences that initial ‘rush’ of love when they give birth. Despite a great labour and delivery, whilst hubby was sat crying over the miracle of our daughter’s birth, I was counting her fingers and toes; contemplating that fact I still had to deliver the placenta and wondering who the hell thought I was going to be able to care for this tiny mewling being. That love comes. For some, it’s instant. For others, it ebbs and flows, before eventually staying for good. Sometimes though, it takes a while, for whatever reason, and that’s OK.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to other parents. It’s both unhealthy and totally pointless… YOU are the right parent for YOUR baby. In their eyes, you’re perfect.
  • Remember that, behind every smiling photo of a ‘new addition’ there are about a dozen deleted photos, a whole lots of tears and at least one parent wondering what the chuff they’re going to do now…

Don’t get me wrong – Facebook has been incredibly helpful over the past 15 months – breastfeeding groups, other mum blogs, places to buy and sell baby items, information about local mum/baby groups. Sometimes, though, a reality check is needed – a bit of time spent away from social media can be a healthy move. Just make sure you’ve saved the link to this blog so you can still find it 😉

Jo, The Mother Side xx

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