My sister-in-law, Jen, is one of the best moms I know. Along with my brother, she is raising two creative, intelligent, delightful, respectful boys. She is a medical doctor who provides care for hundreds of people.
And last time we talked she told me how inadequate she feels every time she gets on Facebook. Her “friends” are always posting pictures of the lovely crafts that their children have made and talking about the innovative parental things they have done. And she, being a doctor and all, hasn’t built a castle out of a cardboard box with her boys lately.
I used to get that same feeling when I read parenting blogs. I’d think, “Look at these people! Their kids are cute and well-behaved. They do fun, educational projects ALL the time. They make healthy meals–from local, organic produce. And their houses are clean.”
Then I’d hear my kids fighting. I’d look at the piles of stuff on my dirty table. And I’d slowly tear myself away from the computer to see if the frozen pizzas were done cooking.
Churchy blogs were just as bad. It seemed that every pastor but me spent an hour in meaningful prayer and meditation at dawn, developed influential church programs before lunch, and wrapped up the day with some profound spiritual insights for the upcoming sermon.
“Inadequate” was one of the kinder words I would apply to myself after binging on these blogs.
And then a wonderful thing happened. I became a blogger myself. One day I was reading through a few of my blog posts and I realized, “Wow! My blog kinda makes me look like one of those hip mom super pastors.”
Except my kids will tell you I am not a hip mom. The amazing folks at Peace Mennonite, who love me dearly, know I am not super pastor. And it suddenly hit me that all bloggers have a “real life” and a “blog life.”
And it’s not that we lie. (Most of us don’t, anyway.) It’s just that a blog is something we can control and life is not.
So for those of you who struggle with feelings of inadequacy when you read Facebook posts and blogs, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are online:
1. Photos can be cropped and otherwise edited. You never know what the blogger has cut out of the snapshot.
2. Bloggers point the camera when and where they choose. I, for instance, take pictures of my children when they are smiling and involved in socially acceptable activities. I don’t whip out the camera to catch my 13-year-old mid eye-roll. I don’t snap a photo of the 15-year-old arguing with his little sister.
3. Many bloggers, particularly parents and pastors, cannot publicize the hardest parts of our lives–because we live our lives with other people who deserve a certain amount of privacy. I may struggle through a child’s mental breakdown. I may be a complete disaster counseling a parishioner with a porn addiction. But that stuff isn’t going on my blog. I don’t mind sharing my own failings and messiness, but sometimes my messiness is just too wrapped up in other people’s messiness.
4. A day has 24 hours. The blogger does not spend all day in the kitchen with her kids making a cake for the homeless shelter (using eggs from a local organic farm and flour from the wheat she grew in her backyard). She also wakes up with bed head, yells at her son the third time she has to tell him to get up, and forgets the milk at the grocery store. She probably also blows her nose, uses the toilet, and eats some junk food. Not everything makes it onto the blog. (Thank goodness!)
So go forth and read your friends’ Facebook statuses without guilt. Read blogs without feeling inadequate.
And keep in mind one of my favorite quotes:
Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.
Spoken, of course, by Cary Grant.