On August 6, 1991, the World Wide Web went live. And, pretty much no one noticed. There was no fanfare and no big media blitz. Certainly, most of us had no idea how big an impact the internet would have on our lives (and, that includes motherhood!).
When I started having my kids there were no home computers and the internet was but a twinkle in the minds of a few geniuses. I got all my information about mothering from other moms and the magazines I subscribed to. And, let me tell you, I received more than enough pressure from just those few sources.
“Bully Moms” reveled in telling me everything I was doing wrong. And, while I loved the recipes and craft ideas in my magazines, the articles always made me feel “less than”. My house didn’t look like the ones in the pictures and according to their statistics I was headed for divorce because my husband and I didn’t have regular date nights. My kids were doomed for failure because I wasn’t raising them right and my house was going to implode because I didn’t have a cleaning plan in place. Plus, I was going to die ten years earlier because I wasn’t following the right exercise plan!
It was exhausting. I think most moms already feel like they’re failing in some area of mothering without others pointing out our faults.
Today, you younger moms have it even harder. You’re inundated with a constant barrage of ways to make you feel inferior on a daily basis. Bloggers, vloggers, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, not to mention internet articles from “experts”, are available to you 24/7. And, the vast majority of them seem to be created for the purpose of showing off and showing you up.
You don’t hand-make your child’s birthday invitations and matching decor? Mom failure! Your dinners don’t look like they were catered by Wolfgang Puck? Bad Mom! Your house doesn’t resemble a spread in Architecture Digest? What is WRONG with you?
It takes a very strong sense of self-worth to withstand all the peer pressure on the internet. Because, with a very few exceptions, everyone puts their best face forward online. It’s the equivalence of an old-timey family photo album where only the most flattering photos made the cut.
Of course, the internet does give you the capability of typing in your child’s symptoms in the middle of the night and finding out they are suffering from a horrible disease (they aren’t). And, you have access to wonderful conflicting advice from all over the world: Let your child sleep with you, never let your child sleep with you! Immunize, don’t immunize! Your child needs a lovey to cuddle at night, no stuffed animals in the bed!
The amount of advice and horror stories on the web is enough to drive any new mommy bonkers.
In my grandparents’ day, the goal of mothering was simply this: Keep the kids fed, clothed, housed and alive. Through the ages, so much more has been added to the duties of mothers, until these days young moms are expected to do it all (and do it perfectly).
Solutions? Limit your access to Facebook. “Hide” the braggers. Stop following perfect people on Instagram. Yes, their pictures are beautiful but accept that your house will probably never look like theirs. Use Pinterest to get recipes for dinner (and laugh when yours ends up looking like one of those “Fail” pictures). Search out the few hilarious online moms who tell it like it really is.
And, remember that many generations of people were raised without the brilliance of the internet and somehow we ended up just fine.