After a 10-month absence, I’m not quite sure yet if I made a mistake getting back on Facebook. There is a generation who were youngsters during the birth pains of social media, who are now adults reaping the consequences of being able to share everything and anything in what my daughter Sarah says, is a “socially aggressive” environment.
A few months back I came across multiple articles that found their way on to major news sites because apparently they were floating around the internet and went “viral”. They were young-er moms posting pictures of themselves during and post pregnancy. I guess they wanted us all to know they were expecting and consequently delivered a bundle of joy. The topic of these articles however was not the babies, but rather what the babies caused … stretch marks and scars. Reading the posts, it appears that they just wanted to let other moms out there know that their bodies were A-Okay.
My immediate thought, “Duh?”
Us pre-social media moms know this and understand that biologically, it’s just part of growing a baby. During pregnancy our bodies are put through the ringer, and depending on the size of the baby we deliver, it’s either a modern gentle cycle or a good old-fashioned Speed Queen with hand crank like my grandmother used. In the instances of these moms though, it wasn’t enough to post some modest photos. These women went full throttle and showed their exposed pre and post-natal bellies; I’m sure for dramatic effect and to create some “chatter”. I would also venture to guess by the “fabletic”-type apparel sported in the photos, they were no strangers to posting selfies well before the stork paid them a visit.
Needless to say, I was a bit perplexed as to the newsworthiness of these photos. These seemed to simply be women consumed with their appearance and the need to post pictures of themselves under the guise that they are supporting other moms who may be struggling with post-partum self-images.
Women have been growing and delivering babies for millennia without the need to make public what they looked like before, during or after pregnancy. Obviously our bodies take a beating during and after pregnancy, but we deal with it because in the end, the gift of life is more important that our self-image. Twenty-six years after the first of four kids arrived in our family, I’ve never felt compelled to share my Speed Queen marks with anyone. Quite frankly they’re ugly; but they’re my very own ugly, yet wonderful reminders of God’s reward (Psalm 127-3-5). I also know that there are women who endure much more than some ugly stretch marks or cesarean scars who are not begging for the attention that this generation seems to crave.
I myself actually enjoyed being pregnant, well, with the exception of morning sickness in the first trimester and heartburn in the last. People think I’m weird when I tell them that, but it was probably because, next to my wedding, it was really the only time in my life when I got a lot of attention; and who doesn’t like a little attention? But when the babies arrived, I promptly took my place in the background again. The problem is, in this age of social media, we don’t have to gracefully and humbly go into the background. Everyone is fair game. We no longer have to be outshone by our kids. We can share the spotlight, even if it’s in the form of photos of stretch marks and scars. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Actors know this, which is why you see so many former child stars show up in questionable movies, photos and tabloids as adults. It’s a way to stay relevant.
Unfortunately in the process, we are losing our identities because we’re too busy trying to keep up with … and one up each other. We are teaching our kids by example that their identities are wrapped up in campaigning on a medium that will never come close to everyday relationships.
I used to look forward to the Christmas cards that included family pictures because it was fun to see how the families have grown up year to year. But now you see their days played out on social media so there isn’t anything to look forward to. No picture is any more special than another because none of them are unique. We all long for acceptance in our lives, but who or what are we trying to gain it from?
So to all the first-time-moms-to-be (including my daughter Emily), enjoy the miracle and remember that the best memories and experiences are not made or recalled from behind the camera, they’re made face-to- face.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14