Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The portal to sanity
As I was saying, I am no stranger to web sites. Because of this, I am always happy to hear when one starts from scratch and goes bonzo, the way that Twitter did. Twitter has become more than just a bunch of status updates; those who are really involved can see that it's more of a lifeline. I will use motherhood as an example, because although I am a freelance writer, I am a mom first.
Imagine if you will, life before the Internet. You have your books on babies, your doctor, and your parents and friends. Your personality is slightly less than the average extrovert, as in the thought of going to mommy and me groups puts you off like rancid hotdogs from the gas station. You are comfortably social within your own bubble, and confident that the people who will support you when you bring your little bundle home are adequately prepared to give you advice.
Week three of new parenthood. You aren't eating or sleeping, and you have a case of irritable bowel that won't go away. It still hurts to pee and bend (stupid epidural) and your baby eats every 20 minutes. You read frantically through the parenting magazines, books, and pamphlets from the hospital. Why is she eating so much, then vomiting after? When I hold her, she sleeps. When I put her down, its party time. How much advil can I give her if she's 3 months but the weight of a 4 month old? Seriously, WTH? Is she actually teething at 12 weeks?
You ask your mom, who promptly tells you that you should be giving her mashed potatoes. Make them real runny, then slip them into her mouth before she eats. Not thinking that is such good advice, you ask your doctor, who advises you against the potatoes but tells you that you should let her cry because she is using you as a soother. You don't mention to your doctor that you co-sleep, because she only sleeps when she can smell you and you don't sleep unless you see her breathing. Is that Post partum? Are you cracking up? Friends tell you that you aren't cracking up, but you should join a gym or take some antidepressants. Leave her and have a wild night out at the bar.
Post Internet mommyhood wasn't fun and was ridiculously full of crappy advice.
Flash to now. You have your blogs, the doctors blogs, the mommy blogs, mommy forums, Facebook (although I am not a fan), and now Twitter. Why is Twitter such a mecca for motherhood? It combines everything. If you have a mommy blog, post it. If you have a mommy forum, highlight what they are talking about. Promote, publicize, and share away.
My 4th baby was born in June of 2009. As he's grown, I've become more involved on Twitter. If I am awake at 2 am with a teething, crabby baby I can check and see who else is online doing the same. Often, someone has posted a good night to me, or best wishes for a decent rest. As a mom, that little wave makes me feel less alone when I'm at my wits end.
And speaking of wits ends? There are things I've read about on Twitter that are immediate reality checks. My 4th baby is a really crappy sleeper, so crappy that I've basically gone through the past few months looking at life in a really bleak light. Postpartum? Probably. Knowing hasn't changed it though, and as I solider on each day I find myself having severe ups and downs that are indicative of life with four young kids. On the days when it gets really bad, and I sit bleakly wondering how to get through the rest of the day, I will open my computer and click around on Twitter. It becomes a window to the rest of the world in a way that talking to family and friends can't be. I can find people in the exact same situation and see how they are doing. Or, I can find things that snap me out of my bad mood and make me just eternally grateful for those 4 little creatures that mess up my house and make my ears ring with their screaming. I've grieved for babies whose mothers I'll never know, and I've taken that grief as a wake up call to love and appreciate my own children.
Yes, Twitter can also make one really, really insecure. I'm a freelance writer within a large group of writers. While you feel happy for their success, you also feel that it takes you one notch down the ladder. I follow agents, publishers, and literary journals. I watch magazines I'd like to write for, and I come up with ideas for articles. I started my own work in progress, when I realized that so many people out there were doing it, why couldn't I? Of course I think mine sucks more than theirs, but still, I'm trying and that is due to Twitter.
Yes, someday I will spend more time with my friends who are living close to me, but at the point I am in my life, where its overwhelming to just get them all to school and back and I can't talk on the phone because my 9 month old has woke up for the 9th time that evening? I have no brain space for chat or playdates and I live for weekends when I'm not on my own with four demanding little people. At the very least, I have Twitter. And for an overwhelmed mom, it's more than enough.