I used to think “Facebook” and “motherhood” meant flooding my friends’ timelines with pictures of my kids. But as I’ve entered into motherhood, I’ve realized that Facebook is a much more complicated space- sometimes with really surprising benefits.
I have a few friends who have children, but my closest friends – the ones you immediately text when you run into their ex at the grocery store to report that he has gained upwards of 50 pounds, for example – don’t have children. My mom and I are very close and talk about kiddo stuff all the time, but many specific details of raising me and my sister have been forgotten, understandably so; it’s been decades.
This lack of people close to me who have children left me with a noticeable gap in information. Sure, you can find copious, concerning amounts of information online, but much of that simply isn’t helpful. To breed positive sleep habits, for example, you should put your baby down in the crib “drowsy but awake.” Great, thanks Google. What do you do after that, when your child proceeds to cry, then scream, then skip naps altogether? Alas, this example demonstrates why it’s helpful to have other parents to talk to openly about specific challenges in parenting.
When I was pregnant, I sometimes stalked online pregnancy chat rooms. Many of them were terrible little hell holes where future mothers berated one another for parenting and pregnancy decisions. But I came across a smaller group filled with women who got knocked up around the same time and therefore all had similar due dates. This group, according to a recent post I read, was moving to Facebook, as it was more convenient to login and communicate there. Even though I had never responded to or started any threads in their group, I requested to join the secret Facebook group, and I gained admittance into this most exclusive and glorious group.
I love my Facebook moms group. It offers an outlet for moms to ask questions – no matter how trivial or controversial – and receive quick answers from moms with children of similar ages, whose backgrounds are not always very similar.
When my doctor said my son should be having more snacks throughout the day, and I had no idea what kind of snacks a one-year-old should be eating because my husband and I aren’t big snackers, I asked these women. When I wondered if other babies wail when they are put into their pajamas every single night, I asked these women. These aren’t the most important questions – those, typically should be asked of doctors – but sometimes you just want to see how other parents are getting along, and what is working for them.
I have been so impressed by the lack of judgement shown in this group (for the most part) and the unwavering support shown by its members. Women here have announced they were pregnant again, so excited or scared to see a positive test, that they shared the news with us before their own families or spouses. Women have divulged their struggles – from postpartum depression to infidelity, divorce and other relationship issues – and they have received such empathy and care. Women have admitted to mistakes they’ve made that have resulted in minor injuries or scares to their little ones, and other moms have built them back up.
I’ve read so much about mom wars and judgement between women, but thankfully I’ve read more than I’ve ever experienced in real life. While some may say an online group of women you’ve never met is not real life, I appreciate being a part of a group of women – with all different beliefs, backgrounds and parenting styles – helping one another.