In the Age of Instagram
On Sunday, I had a little bit of a meltdown. I stood in the laundry room, holding Noam, crying. He had been fussy for almost the entire day so far - crying and screaming on and off - and I just didn't know what to do. He was also, in the middle of those cries and screams, smiling and giggling, but those smiles didn't punctuate enough the pain of thinking he was so upset. Was it DST? I'd been reading how much the hour adjustment can mess up a baby's sleep schedule. Was it the fact that he refused to nap all day (a possible effect of DST)? Was it teething? Was it me?
So, I found myself majorly sleep deprived - we're going on 2.5 weeks of Noam waking 3-5 times a night to nurse - and not sure what to do. So I dried my tears, took a deep breath and sat down. I turned on the TV, found a football game (we are not football fans but there's something I find calming about football being on the television, and so it was) and watched as Noam calmed down and carefully watched the bright lights flash in front of him.
Then, because I was feeling a little better (how long can I let my baby watch television?) and because Jason sitting next to Noam as Noam looked on was too much cute for me to not capture, I took a photo. And I wrote a confessional caption. And I posted it to Instagram.
Within a few minutes, I'd received so much support I was not expecting. Words of encouragement, words that cut away my self doubt and self deprecation. Words that made me feel strong.
One of my favorite bits, from Hitha, was this:
Motherhood is a journey, not a sprint. There will be days you have to succumb to "the easy way out" to keep your sanity. Noam is loved, fed, clean, and comfortable. That's all that matters.
Every day is a good day. I have an incredible family - a husband who loves me and a baby who makes my heart do somersaults - and a very good life that never goes unrecognized or unappreciated. But that doesn't mean every day is an easy day. My days are riddled with self-doubt and mom guilt. And even as I type that, I get nervous that it may be misunderstood. This struggle is not just mine - it is every mothers' - and I admittedly have many things in my life that alleviate many of the things that cause struggle. I'm able to stay at home with Noam, we don't have to worry about feeding ourselves or where we will sleep at night. But self-doubt is a personal struggle that doesn't necessarily respond to external factors. It must be dealt with intentionally, intimately and internally.
But a strong support system goes a hell of a long way. And, to get back to my initial point of this post, Instagram has really surprised me with how much and how well it fills this need. I find myself regularly surprised by the network of incredible moms and strong women I find in this little photo app on my phone. It's become so much more than some photos to post and like, and it is beautiful.
Every day that I scroll through my feed of lightly filtered photos, I read completely unfiltered views of motherhood. Raw, honest and completely imperfect photos and stories of real life with kids - the hysterical, maddening, sometimes tragic stories of being a mom - in every post, and I'm very grateful that these women let me into a small part of their lives on a daily basis. I feel connected, I feel not alone, I feel hopeful.
On another recent post, someone commented something along the lines of 'how did women ever parent before Instagram?' I'm glad I never have to know.