This Breaks My Heart

I came across a video shared on my Facebook newsfeed today. If you haven’t seen it, or don’t feel like watching it, I can summarize it by saying it’s basically three moms partying at Target after sending their kids off to school for the new school year. The video begins with a mom kissing her daughter goodbye and telling her, “I love you so much!” Yet, she cannot even finish turning around before following it up by mouthing a silent but emphatic, “YES!!!” as her daughter leaves. She then joins two other moms and they head off to Target to celebrate their newfound freedom. 

I may be burned alive at the stake for saying this, but I cannot hold my tongue anymore. Every single year I see my friends counting down until the end of summer break, SO thankful to be getting their “freedom” back. Year after year, parents dread the beginning of summer break and celebrate its end. Worse yet, I know many people who have no problem making sure their children know this as well. They’re basically saying to their kids, “I can’t wait for you to back to school 7+ hours a day, 5 days a week – and I cannot possibly be happier about being rid of you! Hooray!”

Look, I get that having kids is hard. Sometimes these little blessings make us want to rip our hair out. I understand that all parents need breaks from their children for the sake of their sanity. I get that, I do! Please do not think that because I homeschool, I have acquired some magical ability to never get frustrated with my children and never wish I could have a day off. I’m human just like everyone else, and I most definitely do have rough days. My children are also human, and sometimes they fight, whine, complain, bicker, you name it. But you know what? I truly like my kids! Even on their worst days, I have no desire to rid myself of them! I enjoy being around them. I cannot imagine sending my children away for about as long as my husband is gone for work each day and being thrilled about it. I would genuinely miss them.

Maybe I am misinterpreting things, but what I get from all these Facebook posts about the excitement parents have for the beginning of the school year is that they don’t like spending a lot of time with their children, and that’s why they are happy to see them go. Their kids frustrate them and tire them out, so they want the kids out of their hair for as long as possible, as often as possible. It’s that fact that makes me very, very sad. And it makes me especially sad for the children who are made to know it.

The Importance of Being Real

I love Facebook. Anyone who knows me knows I spend way too much time on that website. Since moving over a thousand miles away from family and friends, and then 5 years doing it again, I can tell you right now that Facebook has been an amazing way of keeping in contact with loved ones. They can read updates about our new life on the east coast, see photos of the kids, and be able to still be a part of our lives even though we can’t see them in person anymore.

That said, there is one thing that I really, really, really dislike about Facebook. It is so easy to be fake. And likewise, it’s very easy to read only the good things about other people’s lives and thus naively (and incorrectly, I might add) make the assumption that this person’s life must be perfect. Conversely, when all of someone’s posts are negative, it’s easy to draw the assumption that the person must be a Negative Nelly. I can attest to this, because I have been on both sides of the fence. There was a period of time in my life that was not easy for our family so just about every post I made was some form of a rant, and it interfered with real relationships because people were only seeing me complaining. Once I was confronted with that, my pendulum swung the complete opposite direction and I was then told more than once that my life must have been so perfect, I must have such a wonderful marriage and well-behaved children, etc etc etc – all because I was trying to make up for my previous mistake of always being negative by always being overly positive. I felt like I couldn’t win!

Thankfully, I have had some time to grow up a little when it comes to the online world. I have realized that no one is perfect. No one’s life is supposed to be a dream. (And, really, how much fun would I be if I never made a mistake I had to learn from, or never had parenting mishaps to share with you all to make you laugh?) Here’s how I see it. My online me is just an extension of the real me. The real me is very human, very flawed, and very in need of a Savior. I have highs and lows, just like everyone else. I have awesome days when I want to sing for joy, and I have days when I just want to crawl into a hole and be left the heck alone. I think it’s awesome to have a place like Facebook where I can share these highs and lows with those people I know actually care.

The challenge I have given myself is this: I am committing to being “real” when I’m online. When my day stinks, I shouldn’t be afraid to vent. It’s okay. We ALL have those days, and it’s amazing how comforting it can be to simply have someone say, “I’ve been there, I understand.” When I just had the best day ever, I don’t want to feel like I shouldn’t share that because someone who is having a rough time might read it and feel even worse. I have been there too, and the truth is, I often find it uplifting to step outside of myself and my own problems and to simply be happy for someone else. It’s some seriously awesome therapy, let me tell ya! I am putting to rest the desire to “keep up with the Joneses.” No more always try to make my life appear perfect. Instead of focusing on painting the perfect portrait of a life for others to see, I will think about how I can be more encouraging and uplifting to others. I don’t know about you, but I need a healthy dose of REAL in my life!

Will you join me in this challenge?