Mamas and Social Media, Rift or Raft?

be who you are

Lately I find myself perplexed by our modern relationships, or lack there of, and particularly the way we relate as mothers, through social media, and with each other.

There are many kinds of mamas, if we break ourselves down into types, of this and that. There are mamas who don’t want to be solely identified as mamas, but rather want their former identity upheld, respected, not impinged upon, as identified in this article. There are working mamas, there are home-maker mamas. There are mamas who send their kids to school, there are mamas who school their kids at home. There are do-it-yourselfer mamas, and mamas who prefer to pay someone else to do it for them. There are all kinds of mamas, when we break ourselves down into categories such as these. However, when we do this, we may be inviting the very thing that mamas need absolutely none of, judgement.

The thing I am perplexed over, is how social media seems to have created a rift, instead of a raft, from one “kind” of mama to the next. This article explains it well. There are so many images, personal stories, and opinions floating around on the internet, especially those regarding motherhood, that it makes it impossible for any of us to really feel satisfied, accomplished, or even enough, no matter what or who it is we are, or identify with. Becoming a mom is rife with anxiety and uncertainty as it is, why does it seem that social media is fueling these fires?

And yet, if it were not for social media, we would have much more limited access to perhaps the single most important relationship for a mother, and that is other mothers! On Facebook alone I see mamas sharing stories, asking for advice, planning play dates, and offering support. There are groups created for everything. Healthy living groups, babywearing groups, attachment parenting groups, local groups, mamapreneaur groups, ect, ect (those are just the ones I belong to). And yet within these groups I rarely see judgement. There are differences between us. There are opinions, personal stories, and even images of our beautiful children, in golden sunlight… dancing with unicorns and farting rainbows… no I lied, there are no unicorns. However there are opportunities for rifts to be created through the “besiegement” of these things, but what I see instead is connection.

When we take the time to actually connect, to use social media, as best as we can, as a tool for communication,  real time and space relations, instead of as a platform for perfection, jealousy, and never-enoughness, we create the opportunity for rafts, not rifts, from one mama to another.

I suppose I am super conscious of this topic, because as a writer, especially as a blogger, who posts my seemingly idyllic photos, homemade recipes, and craft projects, I don’t want to convey that my life is perfect. In fact just the opposite. I write and share only to express, only as yet another creative outlet. To inspire? sure. To connect? yes please! To besiege, cause anxiety, or judge? never.

I am just being me.

I think that is all any of us can be.

All any of us should be.

I am often tempted to leave social media. To hide away in my shell, doing the things that I love, without the potentially judgmental eyes of anyone on me. To me, that would be bliss. But the reason I stay connected… is that I believe, and see, that there is the possibility for good to come from this connection.

So I want to hear from you…

Why do you use social media? Do you find it uplifting? Do you find it overwhelming? (Both, I say both!) How do you see it being used for good?

And… I want to leave you with one simple message. Each and every one of you (of us!) is perfect, exactly as you are. So…

be who you are

 

<3 Jozie

 

 

Adventures in Night Weaning (Part 3)

E nursing himself back to sleep during a nap

A kind and gentle Grandma is the greatest gift on earth. For both mommies and babies. We are extremely lucky because we have two of them. Without their love and support through this entire mothering journey, I would have been lost. All of my love goes out to them, this and everyday. 

E nursing himself back to sleep during a nap
E nursing himself back to sleep during a nap

October is my hubby and I’s anniversary month. I will never forget the brisk, cool day of our wedding. Surrounded by our friends and family, we exchanged traditional vows, in a garden, in a ceremony led by our friend (and minister for a day) Jesse. We danced and partied all night, and woke up the next day to drive to New Hampshire, our favorite fall getaway. Since that night four years ago, we have always celebrated our anniversary in either New Hampshire, or Vermont. Except for last year, everything (especially night-time getaways) halted last year, when our son was born.

But this year we decided a getaway was possible! With a little help from night weaning, and grandma. E had been prepped for several days (see part 1 and part 2), night nursing had pretty much ceased (except for the faithful 5 am wake up), and it has been months since he has needed to nurse during the day (at least when I am not around). He doesn’t take bottles, or drink any other kind of milk, but he does eat lots of solid food. Grandma has been E’s second mother since the day he was born, watching him on days that I work, and even using practices such as babywearing and co-sleeping to help E nap and get to bed. We were totally confident in leaving E with Grandma for the weekend, and she was confident that all would be well.

Grandma usually watches E on Fridays, so the Friday we were leaving she was at our house in the afternoon. When hubby got home from work, we spent some time with E, eating a snack and making sure he had everything he needed for the weekend. Grandma loaded him into her car, and after many hugs and kisses they rode off into the sunset together. Hubby and I packed up our car, and hit the road. We drove about 10 minutes, when I realized I had forgotten one very important thing, my pump. UHHHHG, my pump. Yes, I would definitely need it on a weekend away.

We got to our destination in Smuggler’s Notch Vermont, our new favorite autumn getaway spot, late that night. We hadn’t heard from Grandma so we decided everything must be well, and we went to sleep. Correction: I pumped first, and then went to sleep, excited for a full night of rest, and maybe even some sleeping in!

I awoke at 5am. Totally engorged, and in pain. I wandered out of bed into the kitchen, and out came the pump, and I begrudgingly set up the pump next to the bed I was supposed to still be asleep in, sat up and emptied my full breasts, cursing my ever abundant milk supply. (which I am actually quite thankful for because is has allowed me to donate milk to several mamas and babies in need, but at 5am I was not happy)

At 9am I called to check in with Grandma. E had slept well, once she got him to sleep. He took quite a bit of rocking and soothing to settle down. Perhaps because he missed me, or maybe just because he was excited about a sleepover at Grandma’s but didn’t actually want to sleep during it. He woke only once or twice that night, and after a bit of cuddling and some pats on the back, easily drifted back to sleep. Grandma stayed with him, cosleeping in a big full-sized bed, just like we do at home. Relieved, we went about enjoying our vacation. My only complaint was the discomfort of my full breasts, and of my belly after I ate a half loaf of cinnamon raison bread with maple ganache, but in the end it was all worth it.

Hubby and I ready for a night out on the town!
Hubby and I ready for a night out on the town!

For night number 2 we decided to go out on the town (small town). We had dinner and even went to a bar for drinks and dancing (oh my!). Upon our arrival home (er… to our condo) I pumped and prayed that the session would last me through the night.

5am, breasts are full. Luckily the pump was set up right next to the bed, ready. I sat up, quickly emptied and then rolled over to keep sleeping. Just like being home, although this time I cuddled up to my sleeping husband, who required no “shhing” or pats on the back to stay asleep.

We didn’t bother checking in with Grandma just yet, figuring no news was good news, and realizing after yesterday’s call that E was doing better not thinking (or hearing from) mommy at all, as opposed to phone check ins. We gathered our belongings and went for a hike, then we started the long drive home, enjoying open road, and glimmering sunshine on the last of fall’s colored leaves. There was even a bit of snow on our hike. White crystals holding tight to deep evergreen branches. It was all quite magical.

Our drive finished, destination Grandma’s house to pick up E. As soon as he saw my he put up both of his little hands, and signed to nurse, with adamant expression. “Must nurse now!” We sat together in a rocker, mama and baby happy to be reunited. He snuggled in satisfied by mama’s milk, and my breasts final felt normal again. Thank goodness.

The second night had been even more of a success than the first. E fell to sleep easily, he stayed asleep all night except for one quick wake up. He did wake early, just after 5:30 am, and was a bit sad to have no nursies to wake up to, but Grandma distracted him quickly with food and Thomas the Train. Night weaning was deemed a success!

……

It’s been several weeks since this getaway. Several weeks of continued effort in night weaning. Most nights are good. My husband and I are alternating night duties. We take turns waking up, comforting, and cosleeping with E. He still reliably wakes up by 5am, sometimes a few minutes before of after, and at a few other instances (11, 1, 3am) but during these times he is easily comforted with back pats or gentle bouncing. We nurse at the 5am wake up, and generally sleep for a few more hours (until 6:30/7). Sometimes he nurses straight through from 5am-7am, and I have to deal with a toddler climbing all over my chest, kicking me in the side, or face, and clumsily grabbing and pulling my hair. But overall, I’m getting more sleep. My mood has improved. My body feels stronger. Night weaning has made me feel mostly human again.

I knew in my heart at 15 months, we were ready. Ready to move out of the infant phase of waking, nursing, and struggling for sleep. We were ready because we all needed better rest. We were ready physically (E was eating plenty of food, and drinking water) and emotionally (I was a crazy mess, and E was suffering from my lack of rest). But night weaning has left me with the feeling that E is no longer a baby. He is in full on toddlerhood, and growing more independent everyday. He still needs me, yes. I still need him, yes. We are still very much bonded and connected to each other, yes. But someday, nursing (even in the daylight) will be over for us. I’m not sure when that will be. I only think I’m ready some days. But it’s in the back of my mind, that this relationship is changing. E will always be my baby, my son, but he will not always be my nursling. For now, he is my nursling during the day, and at night the nursies are finally getting some sleep.

big boy bed