Monday, August 3, 2015

Too Much Facebook?

I read a post today entitled, "Why Men Criticize Their SAHM Wives."  I like the post a lot.  It has some very good points.  And although I have a wonderful, fabulous, amazing, supportive husband, I realized that I have been judging myself for some of these things.  On some things I know I could definitely do better, but there is one point in particular where I wonder--over and over in my mind until I want to scream--if everyone else out there judges me for.  They're probably not, but that doesn't stop me wondering.

Facebook.

Oh, Facebook.  Nearly everyone I know has a love/hate relationship with it.  It's a great way to stay in touch with family.   It's full of mindless drivel.  You can reconnect with old friends.  Some old friends might be better left in the past.  It's entertaining.  It's a time-sucking vacuum.

When it comes to moms, Facebook is a deadly trap.  There are so many fabulous pages and communities where we can find other moms and say, "At last!  Someone who gets it!"  That is a wonderful thing, of course, but there are other posts out there, too.  Posts that say, "Put down your phone," and "Limit your child's screen time," and "You're spending too much time on Facebook."  Ironically, these get posted on Facebook.  I understand these posts, and I partially agree with them, but the end result is that I feel guilty any time I pick up my phone--even to take a picture of my children--or check my Facebook notifications.  And I wonder if all my Facebook friends think I'm neglecting my children so I can just play all day.

So for the purposes of clarification, and also so that I can see it in print for myself, I'm going to explain.  Yes, I probably spend more time on Facebook than I "ought" to or "need" to.

Here's what you see:  I start off the day by sharing a post at 6:30 a.m.  That early, and already I'm Facebooking!  At 1:50 p.m. I share another post.  Maybe I even comment on a few things.  At 2:43 p.m. I share another.  Then another at 8:56 p.m.  I imagine the commentary:  Is she on her phone all freakin' day?  Doesn't she do any work?  Her poor, neglected children.  Her poor husband.  It must be awful to be around someone so addicted to her phone.  No one has said this to me, of course, but the articles and blog posts I see on the subject seem to stab me personally.  Maybe it's just that I always feel like I could do better.

Here's what you don't see:  Shortly before 6:30 a.m. I awakened to a small child lying on my hair.  I very carefully extricated myself from the bed and headed for the bathroom.  No one else was awake; this was my time.  I checked my notifications and played a few games of Candy Crush.  I left the bathroom and found that both of my children had woken up and were downstairs.  I scrambled into my clothes as quickly as I could and ran down to make sure the front door and the back gate were closed and locked.  It's been hot out, and we've taken to opening up the house in the morning.

The morning passed with minimal fuss--for once--and then it was time for church.  You didn't see me there, telling my distraught 6-year-old that he couldn't take the stroller to church to play with.  You didn't see us stop on the way so that I could explain once again that it is not okay to stand the very edge of the curb, because it make drivers nervous.

You didn't see that I had to stay in the children's church for the whole service with my 3-year-old clinging tight to me, wiping his nose on my shirt and snapping my bra straps repeatedly.  Snap.  Snap.  Snap.  You didn't see that I carried my 6-year-old all the way home from church, with him sobbing that he didn't have a chance to play the Xbox.  You didn't see the way I forced myself to be gentle and speak calmly when he bit my shoulder in an attempt to muffle his sobs.

You didn't see how desperately I watched the playground while we ate lunch with another family, visually tracking my children so fiercely that I hardly noticed what I ate or who sat near me.  You didn't see the way I ran to where my sweet, precious, autistic 3-year-old had blundered into a group of boys twice his size, who tried to talk to him and couldn't understand why he just ignored them.

 You didn't see the way I pushed the merry-go-round around and around and around while my 3-year-old balanced precariously on a rail, watching the patterns of dirt as he whirled by.  You didn't see the teenage Down syndrome girl who sat by him.  You didn't see how sweetly they smiled and babbled to each other, her mother looking relieved that we didn't run away.

You didn't see my panic when I realized that my 3-year-old, who had been playing in his room just five minutes before, was no longer there.  Five minutes of taking a break with Facebook and posting something.  Never mind that I was thoroughly exhausted from the day already; my mommy guilt said that I should have spent every waking moment glued to my child's side.  Mommies don't need or deserve breaks.  Facebook made me lose my child.  You didn't see my overwhelming relief when my husband found him playing in Grandpa's camper.

There are so many more things you didn't see, and don't see, and that I really don't see either, even though I'm living them.  I see the sparkle in my son's eyes when I sit down to play trains with him, and instead of feeling happiness at his delight, I feel guilty that I haven't been playing with him all morning.  I fold a basket of laundry, and instead of feeling accomplished, I chide myself for not doing it earlier.

So do I spend too much time on Facebook?  Yes, I suppose that could be argued.  I could read a book when I take a break.  Better yet, I could just work without pause, without taking any breaks.  Here's the thing, though:  If I am allowed pauses in my day, why not Facebook?  Why is it any worse than anything else I could be doing?  With it, I can share fun stories with my family.  I can connect with other people who are just like me.  I am the administrator of a support group to strengthen and encourage people.

Like anything else, Facebook is a tool.  It can be used wrongly, but when used in a good manner it can strengthen, support, and build up.  It is a vehicle in which we travel to community.  When I can't get out to see people in real life, I can turn to my online friends and they say, "I understand.  I've been there.  You can do this."

Perhaps the judgment I should be worried about is my own.

What do you think?  Is Facebook a hindrance or a blessing in your life?