Love and hate

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I meant to give up social media only for Lent. I saw that one of my childhood friends was doing it and I thought it sounded like a good idea. I announced my decision on Facebook, deleted my Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat apps from my phone, and went about my day. The first few days felt weird. I was so used to mindlessly picking up my phone to scan Facebook and Instagram. Suddenly, I didn’t have the comfort of my phone to keep me occupied. Throughout the day I had the urge to mentally check out of whatever I was doing and pick up my phone. Instead, I was forced to find something else to do. I became better at checking and responding to emails. I read the news. Mostly, I got back to whatever I had been trying to avoid. Often this meant playing with my boys. Lets be honest…playing with dinosaurs and following my three-year old’s instructions on his made up games doesn’t really interest me. I love spending time with my kiddos but not necessarily doing the same things they want to do. Being off social media didn’t change any of this; however, it did change what I did in these moments. I wish I could report that I fully engaged and played the silly dinosaur game for hours on end. That didn’t happen. Usually, I tried to get them to play something that interested us both. Sometimes I distracted them by tickling or chasing them. This usually lasted minutes and then I found something productive to do. I cleaned, cooked, packed, organized, etc. Basically, I got shit done. This of course felt good. It definitely feels better than the mixed bag of emotions I get from continuously being connected to my phone. Social media is a funny thing. Part of me loves it. It’s an outlet for me to share my blog, share pictures of my kiddos, keep in touch with old friends, and find interesting articles. On the flip side though, it can easily turn into an obsession. I find myself wanting to check it while I’m driving, eating, waiting in line. I see pictures of what looks like fun stuff my friends are doing and a part of me feels jealous, boring, and disconnected. I find myself worrying about the things that I’m not doing and wondering if I’m missing out.

I find that social media can bring about a sense of connection or disconnection. Yes, it’s amazing to go online and see pictures of your new baby or watch your kiddos grow. If I take the extra minute or two to actually write you a message and we have an exchange than I do feel a sense of connection. Surely, without the ease of social media, we wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with people all over the globe. On the flip side though, if I’m only browsing your pictures, and not reaching out than no real connection is being created. Also, we get a false sense of what is going on in someone’s life. We all have struggles. We all have messy lives that are rarely captured by a photograph. The real, deeper connection that I think many of us (including myself) are craving can’t be created through social media. This connection comes from truly knowing someone and understanding both their successes and their struggles. It’s what makes us human. It’s the part of us that’s screaming to be truly heard and understood.

As a stay at home mom, I definitely understand the need for community. Days spent with toddlers can be isolating and lonely. An entire day can go by when I don’t have an actual conversation with an adult. While I missed the comfort of my Facebook friends during my two month hiatus, I also found that I picked up my phone more to call or text someone I was thinking about. Also, I didn’t have the looming feeling that I needed to share everything. I realize that I would have more blog followers if I was more active on social media but the thought of posting everything I do is like a rain cloud following me around all day. Everyday I work on being more present in my life. How can I fully participate and enjoy my life if I’m consumed with photographing and writing about my every move? I found it liberating to totally release myself from this perceived to-do.

So where does this leave me? Honestly, I’m not sure. I put the Facebook app back on my phone but I’m not sure it can stay. It’s been roughly two weeks and it’s constantly calling out to me.

If you reach out to me via Facebook, thank you and I ask that you please give me a little grace. I don’t know how long it will take to get back to you. I haven’t yet found the balance of being able to enjoy the benefits of social media without allowing it to consume me. I’m open to recommendations though, so if you have any, please reach out to me via Facebook, or better yet, call me. 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you like what you read, please share.

Much love,
Melanie

My legacy

Last night my husband and I had dinner with a very successful entrepreneur and her boyfriend. She and Chris talked a lot of shop throughout dinner which was to be expected. To her credit, she was also very thoughtful throughout dinner and made sure to ask about Brooks and include me in the conversation whenever possible. Still, at the end of the night, I left feeling insecure about myself. Being a stay at home mom carries a certain stigma. I feel that others look at me like I’m not intelligent, driven, or even interesting. Often in our society, your worth is measured by the status of your position and the amount of money you make. I remember when I quit my job doing medical device sales and started doing personal training I felt slightly the same way. I suppose people may feel the same way when they retire. Like it or not, our identity is tied to what we do. I often find myself wanting to tell people who I just met that I had a successful career in sales prior to being a mom and a personal trainer. When I discussed the matter with my husband (with tears of course), he pointed out that the issue is actually the way I view being a stay at home mom. In his opinion people don’t view me any differently, I just think they do. To be honest, I don’t totally believe this but I do think he has a point. Why do I need validation from other people (especially people I hardly know) that I’m smart and interesting? Why don’t I have enough confidence in myself to know that I’m both and that I’m also a really good mother? I remember when I was doing medical device sales and I was at the top of my game, I still told one of my co-workers that at the end of my life I didn’t feel that my success at work meant anything. I didn’t want people talking about how I was really good at sales at my funeral. I realized at that point that even though society may have thought more of me because I was making good money, my value in this life comes from who I am, not what I do. Funny now, because that’s not entirely true. I do believe what I do each day is really important. Sure, I’m not going to cure cancer, but I hope to raise a kind, loving, intelligent son who does good in the world. What I spend my days doing now is more important to me than what I used to do. On top of that, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. I want to be the one to teach Brooks his first words, to pick him up and kiss his boo-boos, and to teach him to say “please” and “thank you”. So why even after I know all of this, do I feel so small sitting across from a self-made successful business-woman? I guess I just need to remind myself each day that even though I may not have a glamorous job, I have an important one and the only one that I want right now. At the end of my life, I pray that people will tell my children that they had a really good mother, that I loved them with all of my heart, and that I loved raising them. And, I hope that as people say this, my children will already know all of this to be true.