Monday, 23 May 2016

Knowing ourselves

I was going to write another in my series of blog posts I won’t be writing, but when I looked at some of the prompts that I won’t use, I decided against listing them here. None of us here need to see a list of ways for a mother to brag about what a great mother they are, how much their kids love them, and how adorable and precocious their children are.

They reminded me of a lot of the Mother’s Day posts I saw (translation: was unable to avoid) on Fb, where, instead of tributes to their own mothers, I saw mothers post self-congratulatory photos of cards from their children declaring how much they loved their mother, photos of flowers their adult children had sent, and photos of breakfasts or other meals their children had prepared for them.

I wondered if the mothers felt the need to do this, to brag to the world how well loved they are, because on a day-to-day basis they feel taken for granted and struggle to keep their heads above water? If so, I have sympathy for them, and hope that they find a way to feel better about themselves, a way to define themselves, without endless self-promotion that is focused on their relationships with others.

When we first enter into the rest of our lives without children, it is easy to define ourselves as people without children, and that is a relationship focused on the negative. Eventually though, I think we're able to move to a place where we can define ourselves as simply ... well ... ourselves. That - being realistic and accepting, recognising both our flaws and our good points, not kidding ourselves - brings a welcome feeling of quiet satisfaction and freedom.

11 comments:

  1. I think you've hit the nail on the head. Sadly, I think a lot of aging parents feel left in the dust. Visits and phone calls are too infrequent and they may be feeling lost I life in general (i.e.: did I live a life worth living). So they post self-congratulatory photos as validation that they are special and loved. They need to.

    Parenthood is a hard thing. But there's been a lot of analysis about how we may have overdone it. I love my kids, but I also know that it isn't their job to help me find meaning in my life. It's the reason I push for the things I pursue and try to maintain the friendships I have.

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  2. I agree on both accounts. Although I am not sure if these people realize they are bragging. Sometimes people are saying or posting things withouth thinking too much how this could affect others. It is easy to share the happiness because it feels good.

    Self-confidence is important. I am starting to regain mine, not being so ashamed any more. It makes a big difference in how I am able to deal with mothers, pregnant women and children.

    By the way, I just discovered your post "Infertility and shame". I bookmarked it as I think it is brilliant. I will certainly return to it more than once in the future.

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    1. Elaine, I'm very glad you liked that post. It is one of my favourites too.

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  3. I feel like even outside of the Mother's Day bubble there's so much on facebook that's promoting what an awesome (or what a tongue-in-cheek "terrible") mom people are. For online stuff, I know a lot of people who seem to think that if it isn't posted, it didn't happen. I'm not sure it's always meant to be self-promotion versus some of what Cristy said, a validation of moments of specialness when otherwise the feeling is taken for granted, but my feed is often filled with people's posts like the ones you mentioned. I love what you said about accepting who we are for who we are and not what others do for us or because of us -- more people should accept themselves for themselves independent of their relationships. Thoughtful, thought-provoking post.

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  4. That was exactly why I was feeling so yucky during/nearing M Day. I logged onto FB, knowing for sure I could click through my first three or four subscribed newsfeed "see first" posts without being bothered by M Day post, but boy was I wrong...I had subscribed to different animal/cat groups online and they all had a post/photo that was related to M Day. And then I went to my yahoo mailbox and this year it also had a special icon that reminded me of M Day (though this one wasn't as bad, since it was a reminder to write your mother an email). But still I felt like there was no escape anymore because even those people without kids (who had pets) dedicated at least one post/photo/video to fur moms or post a photo of a kitten with a mother cat and praised the mommy cat for being a good mom. It felt more and more like making use of M Day in a public way instead of focusing on the relational private celebration.

    When it comes to different FB posts, I also think because of the nature of FB where some kids get tagged by the parents, it's a very public way for the parents to show thank you to the kids who have made them something (a card, breakfast, whatever). I agree with Elaine. In the beginning of my FB days, I used to share many more things without thinking twice. I have since edited my posts/photos and I've been more careful with what I share.

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  5. Yes I have also noticed the trend towards celebrating being a mother instead of focusing on their own mothers. Facebook really feels like it's just people bragging sometimes, though who knows what's really going on in the background or what they might be dealing with

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  6. I'm not a huge lover of Mother's Day posts for the sake of Mother's Day posts, but how is that sort of bragging any different from a sport star posting about the game or an author posting about their book or anyone posting about anything where they feel pride in a job well done? I guess I see those posts as people setting out there what is important in their world. Or if that is self-promotion, then all of us are guilty of self-promotion on a daily basis as we promote how we see the world.

    Now the fact that they aren't writing about their own parents... I don't know. I definitely saw pictures of people's mothers in my feed. It would be interesting to go back a few weeks and count how many people spoke about their own parenting or someone else.

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    1. I don't see a lot of self-congratulatory posts on Fb, and perhaps that's why the Mother's Day ones made me think. Just in the way that I wonder why a particular friend continually posts photos of herself looking glamorous, or another is always posting about how far she ran.

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    2. Good question from Mel. I've been dwelling on why I was bothered by M Day this year more than last year (for example). I think one difference is that it's more of a global celebration, so you can feel the waves far more strongly. Secondly, there are different dates for M Day around the world, so it feels like it's on repeat each year. I feel at least two big waves of M Day celebrations on FB.

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  7. I saw a mix; folks celebrating their mothers and folks sharing how they, as mothers, were celebrated. It wasn't overboard in either direction, anymore that FB posts are overboard.

    Mother's Day for me was about missing my mom over how my son and daughter celebrated me. I've been a mother for over 30 years but I was a daughter for over 50.

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  8. I've actually asked some friends these sorts of questions - like do you like the big tributes from family members on Facebook on Mother's Day (a lot of husbands will right long posts about how great their wife is as a mother) and the feeling was mixed. Some said no as they'd prefer to have more regular appreciation. Others said yes, they like to get some recognition as there are so many thankless days.

    I view Facebook as a place we come to post things more for ourselves than others.

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