what I learned ignoring Facebook for a week
I was absent from FB and other social media sites for this past week or so. It was a long time coming. There is too much noise in my life right now. Too much change that has me itchy and feeling insecure and emotional and weepy. I was using it as an escape from actually thinking about my present. The little phone in my back pocket was being used to sneak away from my reality into people's perfect summer meals, vacations, and funny stories. I also had a couple friends make comments like "WOW! you all do so much!" and "you are always busy aren't you?" in reference to my social media postings. I felt like maybe I was actually making other Mamas feel smaller and that is in no way ever my intent. I feel like I also post my struggles (and sometimes have been accused of being too open with those) but maybe my postings sometimes cause others to compare instead of laugh or be encouraged. So to be clear: friends, I struggle. EVERY DAY. I am trying to follow Jesus with all that I am but know that I fall short. ALL THE TIME. And I have not figured life out, not even a little bit. I have doubts and worries that can often choke the joy from my life. I am trying to find my place in this journey of motherhood and life. This gig I simultaneously love and loathe on some days. I am flawed and sinful and hurt people intentionally and unintentionally. And I love to be out, that is my personalty. I actually struggle the most with just being at home and being content with that part of motherhood. So truth be told sometimes I drag my kids out for my sanity!
So I needed the space to just think. And shocker....when I wasn't attached to my phone I had more time. I did not feel as rushed. I felt like I could focus more on the important rather than the immediate. Instead of seeing what "friends" were up to I actually played with my kids at the park. I did not immediately grab my phone every moment I was waiting for something to fill the perceived void. I people watched. I sat with silence more without the itch to fill it. I noticed and talked to the people around me more. I made new friends at the park and the store. I asked my girls more questions about their day. I did not feel a constant need to comment, reply, or keep up with much besides dinner which; let's be honest, can be enough some days.
And here is what else I know is true: many of the mamas I can trick myself into thinking "have it all together" just don't. They struggle, they lose it with their kids, they drink a green smoothie for breakfast and by dinner are shoving fistfuls of Doritoes in their mouth (ok, maybe that is just me), their kids kick each other in the car (yep, that totally happened this week), they snap at their husbands, they complain, and they don't look like that when they wake up. And I know this because that is me and I make it a goal in my life to be in community with REAL, awesome, and flawed women that support and love me and allow me to return the favor. Social media has its place. It is fun and can help us stay connected, in a small way, to people we might not see day to day. When we lived in Africa it served as a window to this time and place that I struggled to believe coexisted with my new everyday experiences and somehow allowed me to feel not forgotten. But time for some truth telling: I also know I can use it as a false way to fight the loneliness I can feel day to day in the mundane moments of mama-hood. If I am honest I really think my people pleasing tendencies prompt me to post some things to try validate the choice I made to be a stay at home Mama; a choice I struggle with often. A choice I affirm as so important and brave in others but find hard to believe for myself. I want a "record" that my days aren't wasted. That I somehow have proof that I am doing this mama gig with everything I am but in the silence over these days I realized the "result" of my mothering is not a sum of the fun things we've done or the lessons I've taught. It is not even in the children we raise, with God's grace. It is only in being faithful to what God has called me to do, regardless of outcome. I learned that what I do in my day is not validated just because someone 'liked it.' Other's approval does and always will leave us empty if we don't have the internal peace with our choices and our life. The tasks of Mama-hood are valuable and difficult and sacred. And we need to gather together and remind each other of this because I am fairly certain I am not the only one who struggles to believe it in the everyday.
I also discovered I feel truly blessed to have this life God has given me and it is ok to want to share and celebrate it. Annikah and I were just crying last night remembering and looking at images from the day God rescued my family. That experience forever changed how I live. And if we can post about a new shirt or a baseball game I should not hide the amazing kids God has blessed me with or the deep convictions I feel about justice and love or the complete fail I attempted or the joy I feel at pursuing my passion or the perfect avocado. Because it has been a hard fight to follow those dreams. And the older I get the more I realize there is no separation between sacred and "everything else." It is all life!! And when I see others living out their purpose I want to cheer them on! We all need cheerleaders. And when I see other's complete fails or ridiculous situations it enables me to laugh more at mine. We are all great at some stuff and horrible at other stuff. Let's just be real with it. I love capturing images that speak about experience, I take a zillion pictures because it makes me happy. So although I am far from great at it that is my thing but please do not open any of my drawers or closets or ask me to plan something or follow through on any of the crazy ideas I suggest because I completely SUCK at all of that and so much more. We are different and we need each other. I love seeing other Mamas and their kid's celebrating and making the most of life, even a life that is hard and speckled with disappointment and challenge. I celebrate you because I am you! I am inspired by so many friends and I hope that our family's adventures in some small way inspire and encourage others. And please do not be impressed. EVER. All you need to do is stop by and actually hang out with my chaotic, emotional, irresponsible, mess of a self any day of the week and; trust me, you will be thoroughly un-impressed (consider that an invite!).
For me the bottom line is social media can not ever be a replacement for having a coffee with friends and asking "how are you REALLY doing?" Real, live, flawed, but awesome and amazing friends who are your people. We all need "people" who tell us the truth, even when we don't want to hear it. We need friends who put up with us, who rejoice with us, celebrate with us, ask us hard questions, seek to understand us, and cheer us on. And I'm making it a priority to be that for others in hopes that living that will knit me into the community my soul yearns for and so desperately needs. But we also need to know that our faithfulness to God's call is not measured in other people's cheers but in quiet moments of our everyday and I am asking for more peace in those spaces.
So I will continue to use FB but I will also take periodic breaks from posting and reading it just for the heck of it. And if you see me all up in my phone and ignoring my kids remind me of this!! I just need to constantly remember who my center is and how that changes everything in and around me. And I need to close my eyes and breath deep and focus on what is right in front of me more. Because what is right in front of me is pretty fabulous....even on the rough days.