You’re Not A Prop {subtext series}

I’ll just start this post out by saying I’m going to step on your toes. And if you’re someone who gets the whole way through and doesn’t feel like I did that, please don’t email me to let me know that’s the case because I prefer to believe we are all equally guilty.

There are a million different ways we do this to our kids; some obvious and others really subtle. I think social media is one of the most blatant areas, and let’s face it; it has changed the face of parenting. If we call it anything other than a game-changer, we’re lying to ourselves.

For example.

When I was eight, a birthday party meant a paper crown and some friends with knee-high socks skating at the local rink.

And nobody expected any different. The only people who knew what it looked like were actually there, and trust me, they were too stuffed with store bought cake to care what my mom had hot-glued as part of the decor.

Moms weren’t uploading or applying filters. They were watching us skate. And I know that because remember them pointing and laughing as we rounded the corner for the millionth time.

There are parts of the existing photos that I wish I could change. For example, the fact that my mother was sporting a perm that made Richard Simmons look like a hair underachiever.

But I wouldn’t change the memory.

And it doesn’t get better because other people “like” it.

To be fair, she wasn’t under the same pressure we tend to be under now.

Kids, do you know we couldn’t even see those pictures that day? No. Seriously. We had to push the button and just hope they turned out when we picked them up from the drugstore a few days later.

So we had to rely on (wait for it…) the experience itself to satisfy us.

There’s a lot about social media that’s fantastic, and I for one am super glad I can check my phone to see if I captured an image the way I wanted to, but there’s a real danger that’s underneath it.

I’m not the first to talk about this, I know, but I want to say it in a way that maybe you haven’t fully considered.

Are your children convinced that the following statement is true?

The value of this moment is in experiencing it with you, not in what others will make me feel about it.

We aren’t fooling them. They see us click, click, click, and stare at our cameras.

It used to be that we were staring at them.

Social media doesn’t have to be bad, and it’s an amazing way of sharing glimpses of life. I’m not saying we shut the machine down.

I’m just challenging you to ask yourself this: Am I documenting or directing?

Please don’t fool yourself into thinking your kid doesn’t know the difference in a party thrown for her and a party thrown for Pinterest. Because you can spend all those hours holed up in the garage constructing what you believe will be the pinnacle of party success without stopping to evaluate whether a 2 year old is actually capable of appreciating a full scale recreation of a Parisian cafe.

The cafe is not for her, it’s for you.

Please close the cafe and find a roller skating rink.

I know I’m sounding harsh here, but I’ve had it up the top of my mother’s perm with people acting like this is all for our kids. It’s so ridiculous.

You can actually give your kids a good childhood even if you never put cake-pops in a mason jar or hang homemade bunting from one tree to another. I promise.

I’m not saying you should stop being creative if this is what you love and your passion comes from creating it and then letting your child revel in it. What I’m saying is that if you’re spending more time with your macro lens than you are hugging the birthday kid, you’ve missed the point. And they know it too.

I’ve been to a bunch of kids parties in the last few years that were done up to the NINES, but I watched the mamas laugh and play and enjoy it all. The kids loved it, and everyone was happy. I know it can be done-I just don’t think it’s the norm.

It’s not just birthday parties, we all know that. It’s life in general when you feel like people you don’t know are evaluating your skills as a mother based on a snapshot. And guess what? You now get to twist, crop, edit, and filter that sucker until it looks the way you wish it really had.

It’s a lot of pressure, that’s all I’m saying.

They aren’t props to make our stage look better, and you know when you’re acting like they are.

For those of you who don’t have any “online presence” because you’re “way above that” and would “never subject your kids to that” or “give in to the pressure,” I have bad news. You’re not exempt.

You can make your kid a prop in every area of life. How about your faith? Do you feel like you make them act certain ways in situations because it reflects how good of a Christian you are?

I don’t, but I feel like it might be a possibility for some of you less-holy folk.

Right.

Like the time Kate came running home from playing with a neighbor and I listened to enough of the conversation to decide that the other mom probably thought I was a bad person and decided to march her across the street to apologize.

“Hi Valerie. Kate told me a little about what happened and she really wants to say she’s sorry to Abby.” We both look at Kate anticipating her response. It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.

“I didn’t say that and I’m not sorry.”

Luckily, Valerie and I got a great laugh out of it, and I got a lesson I will never forget.

When you’re making your kids a prop, your play is going to get rotten reviews.

She wasn’t sorry, and she shouldn’t have been. In fact, she wasn’t wrong. But I wasn’t as concerned about that as I was about looking right. Now that’s an attractive quality, isn’t it?

I’m not proud of it, but I’m owning it because I want you to as well. I don’t do it perfectly, not by a long shot. But I’ve learned areas where I really needed to grow and for the sake of my kids, I’ve been diligent about working on them. For us, that means that as far as social media, I don’t post anything without their permission. Obviously Charlotte is too young for that, but the others have to tell me it’s okay for me to put it online.

I also keep kind of a “running tab” in my head of what I’m presenting. I try to make sure I’m being honest about the mess as well as the beauty of life, and it’s not for completely unselfish reasons. I love when people “like” a picture of my kids holding hands and singing a praise chorus, but it means the world to me when they see the underbelly a little and say “I get that. Because I’m in it too.”

And here’s something really important to understand as far as being props. What makes them work is the feeling that they’re essential and they’re valued outside of what they offer your little production.

I thought about this analogy with regard to the way the Lord loves and sees us, and it fell short of being a perfect reflection. The truth is, we are props in His play. Not useless, unmoving trees or teeth (you would think that a random choice here unless you know that my breakthrough theater performance was as a bicuspid molar in my third grade play. I don’t want to sound egotistical here, but I basically redefined the role of molars in school productions for years to come. It was that good, and you can ask my dad if you don’t believe me.), but it’s His stage.

We dance around and breathe life in and out because we want to make the Director known. And it’s spectacular.

He delights in us.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if I made up a new filter name like “washed by the blood” and tried to make a profound statement about the way He sees us? Yeah, I didn’t think so either, so I won’t.

But it’s true.

He loves us in a way that should inspire us to love our kids-not because of what they offer our image or our status, but just because we like watching them skate.

I’m tempted to go back through this and soften the edges, check the grammar, and make sure I said what I wanted to, but I’m not going to.

So if I missed a comma, please accept my apologies.

And know that they’re missing for a good reason.

Four good reasons, to be exact.

Go love well, and don’t wait for anyone else to tell you you did.

You never know for sure how many times you have left to see them skate around the bend, and I wouldn’t want you to miss it.

:)

Love,

A

 

 


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  • Sheila

    Thanks for this. I am hosting Easter brunch and not looking forward to the cleaning and making everything “perfect”. So I won’t make it perfect & it will still be so b/c its family & friends and they could care less if my counters are cluttered. And… its Easter. One of the reasons that I not on Pinterest or Facebook b/c I could never compete with all the creativity, but I can still get caught up in it nonetheless. Most of the time I am able to realize that my daughter could care less about all the fancy decor or creative things (unless she gets to help create them)- she just wants to run & play with her friends. But too often I find myself with a nose in the phone instead of in the air looking and taking it all in. So its a good reminder coming at a great time — thanks!

  • Erin

    I am pretty sure Pinterest exists to make us all feel inferior.

    • http://twitter.com/katrinamayr Katrina Mayr

      I am pretty sure all of social media exists to make us feel inferior. How many friends posted tropical vacation photos to FB this winter?!

  • Allison B

    Wowzer. This was so good. SO what I needed to hear. I lost two weeks of good sleep and probably neglected my child so that I could make his Barnyard First Birthday Brunch as spectacular as it could be – to impress my new neighbors, not my child. He most gleefully played with the $2 worth of balloons that I bought at the Dollar Tree. Luckily, I learned a lesson – an expensive, tiring lesson. Thanks so much for the reminder and for your honesty.

  • http://twitter.com/dawn_fay Dawn Fay

    It’s why I deactivated fb in addition to my five other little reasons who get my “like(s)” and eyes and ears and heart. The “theatre” out there just does not compare. GREAT article.

  • http://tuningmyhearttopraise.blogspot.com/ ro elliott

    Yes…hard but good words…as an older mom with grown kids I watch with some concern over what you wrote of here….sometimes I wish we could put could put the toothpaste back in the tube….but that is impossible….so I pray that we manage social media and that is doesn’t manage us…our families….blessings to you and other young moms as you travel this new territory~

  • http://twitter.com/kristaonpurpose Krista Wilbur

    I’m not a mom but this resonates with me on such a visceral level. My sister is so young and I want to not only document her childhood but LIVE it with her. I’d rather have those memories than the pictures. And the same applies to my friends… I don’t want to be so obsessed with pictures that I forget to live the moments.

  • Cindy

    “You never know for sure how many times you have left to see them skate around the bend,”

    Oh my Angie. This just killed me. In the best possible way. Thank you.

  • Christi King

    Wonderful post..my toes sure hurt! I strive to find balance between capturing the moments to go back and look at them because I know this time is flying by and balancing that with experiencing the moment. I have to say I’m thankful for a cute little redhead busting in through the door at Salty Dog on HHI that day so that I stopped and took notice of the mom behind her :) What an an unexpected blessing to get to meet you that week. Wanna go back????

  • Kelley

    I don’t have children, but man alive–this hit the nail on the head in regards to so many aspects of life. Home life, work life, member of the community life. This line especially stuck out to me:

    “The cafe is not for her, it’s for you.”

    How true is that!!??!!??

    How often have I wanted to make things “just perfect” and in turn, I miss out on just taking “it” in. “It” meaning–time with friends….time with family….time with my nephews….time with coworkers at the lunch table….

    Good thoughts to remember and practice!

  • http://twitter.com/radchenko819 Anna Radchenko

    :)

  • Coby

    I want to re-read this, but you really hit a nail on the head (translated: “Ouch!”). I’m not on Facebook, etc., but I know that I have often judged my worth or gotten my identity by how my kids behave. If they do well, I am a rockstar Christian; if they don’t, then I’ve got some serious repenting to do! What unfair, unrealistic, foolish pressure to put on their little souls!

    I LOVE this: “Go love well, and don’t wait for anyone else to tell you you did.” Amen.

  • http://twitter.com/mrsmount erin mount

    Thank you, thank you, Angie! I really needed to hear this.

  • klmadera

    I appreciate your wise words. I love a good toe bruising now and then. Am I being a mother? Or am I beng a producer? OUCH!! Thank you!

  • http://itwasbroughtonbylove.blogspot.com/ Southern Gal

    Thank you…

  • Brandi

    All I can say is thank you for that post. Eye opening for sure

  • Kelsey

    Sure do appreciate this message. Thanks.

  • http://candelierious.blogspot.com Lis

    This is beautifully written and so true. I too have found myself often directing as opposed to documenting. I’ve also learned the art of asking permission to post things to social media. I HAD to learn it when my son finally picked up where his pictures were going and at times would say before I even pressed the button, “Please don’t post this on Facebook.” Yikes!

  • http://loveofdixie.com/ Lauren Flake

    Thanks for the fantastic reminder to put down the cell phone and just enjoy your kids. I think we all struggle with addiction to instant gratification on Facebook and Instagram. I love creating beautiful things but I have to remember to keep my priorities straight.

  • anne webb

    Good points made . Privacy needs to be valued by moms and modeled for their children. Too soon little ones ones will be facing this pornified culture and the issues of online privacy( or lack thereof) will be in their faces.Do we want our children to think that they SHOULD be posting their stuff online?
    Good reminder here Angie that life offline is real and special. Documenting it for the internet is dangerous and a form of idolatry. Hey, I am a grandma. I get to say this to all young parents out there. Value your privacy. Share your life with offline friends and modify any/all instagram addictions. There is something special about a trunk full of real photos up in the attic to find when the kids are older. It suggests that memories were made. 18 years go by fast! Live it!

    • Liz

      This comment ^ was my favorite of all.

  • Gianna

    We just got done with a party for my 3 year old. We do ONE birthday party during the preschool years for our kids and then from there it will probably be a sleepover when they are 10 or something. Anyway, my mom and dad made a huge cardboard train for my little train lover. I asked them to do this because I knew that he would love it and it would be a great place to play during the party. So at first reading your post I got all defensive, but then I read the spirit of what you were saying. I wanted the train for him. Not to show off to my friends. (although I did because my parents did such a wonderful job and I was proud of them!) But I do use my kids as props and that causes anxiety because I forget they are real people, too.

  • Snekcip

    Here I am on the EVE of my daughter’s 6th bday and I have decided that I WOULD NOT do a BIG BLOWN OUT PARTY like years before. This post just SEAL the decision. I asked my daughter, “what would you like/want for your 6th bday and she simply said “Have a jewelry party” and a playhouse with dishes!! She simply wants to have a few girl cousins over and they paint and glue gems on a wooden jewelry boxes. I picked up 8 jewelry boxes for 3 bucks each at Hobby Lobby and a few supplies and sit in her playhouse and JUST BE A KID!!! Simple and memorable. I can remember as a child my dad converting and old truck camper into a playhouse for me and my sister and it truly was one of my BEST CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. I want that for my daughter and you know what THAT’S JUST WHAT I’M gonna do!! Thank you for a WONDERFUL and THOUGHT-PROVOKING blogpost!! Guess what…I didn’t even retrieve my steel-toe boots before I read it either!!

  • Lisa

    Angie, great article. At the beginning of this article I thought about my favorite times with my four kids. Watching them play – together – having fun. On vacation, we had no friends competing for attention and not their usual surroundings to interrupt. Watching them run back and forth catching waves, screaming and then laughing. It warmed my heart and no picture could capture that moment. I had to be in that moment to enjoy it. Fully present, filled with thankfulness that I was so blessed. Second thought was how technology has taken so much of our lives that we are missing life. God has really convicted me on that lately. Consider yourself used by God on that one. :) Now that my children are grown and making choices for themselves (not always good ones either) I fall into that comparison trap. If I had done this or that they would be _____. You fill in the blank, because I have many times. We did our best, they love God and watching them teach their own children God’s love says they might have listened a little more than I thought. We are all guilty of comparison, of trying to be like or worse out do each other. God doesn’t want that. He sees us just as we are – HIS beautiful children.

  • Trysha

    Confession: I’ve never thrown a birthday party for any of my three kids. Not one. And they’ve never asked “why does so-and-so have birthday parties and I don’t?” Nope, we have kitchen dance parties and make a special dinner and I never wish my 10, 9 or 4 year old (or my husband for thay matter) a Happy Birthday on Facebook or twitter. Why? Because they are right here in my face ( and none of them are on facebook to see it anyway)

  • http://twitter.com/InspiredRD Alysa Bajenaru, RD

    This is such a hard thing for me to figure out. I love to blog and share (and I try to make sure to present the imperfect moments enough to burst the highlight reel bubble), but where do I draw the line? My kids are 4 and 6 in April, and I know they are getting close to understanding what it means to post a picture and get a response. Do I take a step back and tone it down? Do I point my blog in a different direction so there aren’t quite as many photos of them? I know where I want them to find their value (not in the number of “likes” on an Instagram), but I’m not sure how much is too much…make sense?

  • jennnahrstadt

    bravo for responding to the Spirit’s prompting with lovingkindness and concern. as one who is at the tail-end of the first part of parenting (my one and only son is graduating high school in 8 weeks), i have, for the most part, missed out on this phenomena. but the pressure cooker environment of comparing ourselves with ourselves (which is not wise, Scripture says), is an arena i’ve done battle in, and it’s tough in there. my best advice, from one who’s only is about to ’round the bend? BE ALL THERE. you won’t regret that.

  • Christy

    Seriously Angie. You are a beautiful prop in His play!!! THANK YOU! This part, especially right before Easter and with so much of our culture right now trying to make God and love the prop in a play all about them… This part…. A verbal balm for my soul. I might go write it on my living room wall.

    “We dance around and breathe life in and out because we want to make the Director known. And it’s spectacular.

    He delights in us.

    • Christy

      Back to say that so much of this pricked my heart too. I didn’t mean to sound like it might not apply to ME …. Because it definitely does!!!

  • Patti Jensen

    Great thoughts….I do love sharing my life because I do feel people are blessed by seeing mama’s enjoy their children and my family from out of town enjoys seeing my kids grow up via pictures on FB. But there are times that I feel much more like a director versus documentary filmer.

  • http://twitter.com/ShawnLFink Shawn Ledington Fink

    You are so right on. I feel this every day when looking on Pinterest. By the way, my girls had a roller rink party this year when they turned 7. And last year was with paper crowns. : )

  • http://twitter.com/BreezyTulip Breezy Brookshire

    Angie, I love this. (And I love that you didn’t edit it.)

  • Kirsten

    Well said, Angie. Thank you.

  • lulu

    I’ve never understood lavish parties for children. Especially young ones. No one can claim the party is for them. Oh – by the way – bicuspids are not molars. They are sometimes called “pre-molars” – but they are not molars. Still – I would love to see a pic of that!! Ha ha!

    • Angie

      No!!!!! Nnnoooooo!!!!!!! I feel like my whole life has been a sham…..
      Hehe!!! And yes, I’m going to find those pics!!! :)

  • BFGOmelissa

    Pinterest is evil! :-) I have shared these feelings for quite a while. Last year it really was sealed for me. I have 2 precious friends, both have husbands and multiple kids – and both openly struggle financially. Last summer we got invited to both of their kiddos birthday parties and I was shocked ((SHOCKED)) to show up to find 2 spectacular, over-the-top, EXPENSIVE, pinterest inspired parties. I was perplexed as to how either of them ((really beautiful, spirit-filled, God-fearing women) could have fallen for this. It’s heartbreaking. In this same realm of conflict – I see another “sickness” happening in social media. Two actually. One is the constant “selfie”. When someone is posting more photos of themselves than anything else to me it screams a cry for attention & compliments. It hurts my heart for them. The other is people constantly posting photos of themselves with their friends – often they are friends with influence. I can’t help but think that they are wanting others to be impressed with who they know. I see it everywhere! It is also heartbreaking (to me). We are presently a society starved for approval, largely due to social media and extensively exercised there. I use facebook most – and from day 1 I have *tried* to balance the good, bad and ugly and I *believe* I have done a fairly reasonable job of that but I have also failed plenty. My biggest personal struggle is with envy and hurt feelings, especially when people post the exact opposite of what they expose over a cup of coffee. It makes me want to get out of social media altogether but so far I haven’t had the strength to back away for those few things I would actually miss. As for my kids – oh Lord help me! I need grace, guidance and wisdom to be able to raise them in truth and to help them always be a reflection of whatever their truth is. I’m hoping that by the time our kids are grown they be so turned off by social media that they run from it. If Jesus doesn’t come before then, maybe their generation can grow to be fiercely private. Ha. Where is the balance? I don’t want my kids to be props. I don’t want my friends to be props. I don’t want my good hair days to be props. I don’t want my social media history to just be a string of images of my best days – but rather a real sampling also of how life hurts and how God uses those hurts to shape me for His service and glory. Clearly, you’ve struck a nerve. :-)

    • Angie Smith

      I love your heart, Melissa!!!! And I got your second email but I’ve been negligent in responding-not for lack of love but definitely lack of good prioritizing:( hope to see you Sunday!

      • BFGOmelissa

        No worries, sweet girl. Truth be told, my world went topsy turvy about 3-4 weeks ago and I haven’t been in the right frame of mind to entertain paint color spectators anyway – although I would have tried my best. Happy Easter weekend to your family! See you soon.

  • http://twitter.com/NBHLMT Nancy Hudspeth

    I love this post. I’ve backed away from so many “so called” friendships this past year because of the gossip & popularity contest. It’s actually given me a chance to change & pray more & I have found so much peace through this!

  • Joye

    Thank you!!! For putting into words the nudges God gives me. I’m guilty. I love photography and styling sets and I am totally guilty of using my kids as props. Totally. What you said about being a part of God’s production and washed in His blood was everything I need to hear today. Many times, I get weary of the constant out of control mess I feel like my life is right now with five little ones with attitudes and sin nature and capturing the “good” moments help me keep a thankful heart. But those moments don’t have to be perfect to be good. Not by a long shot. Love you, Angie!

  • Chrissy

    We are all guilty of crossing the line, but its really good to be reminded of where it is. I enjoy being creative. It’s the heart and soul of who I am. I want my children to see me embracing what makes me me so that one day they will embrace what makes them them. It should also be said, that there are just as many people out there who are quick to criticize peoples efforts as there are people whos efforts make other people feel inferior. Finding that happy medium between being yourself and using your gifts (whatever they may be) to give to others and make them happy and going overboard can be tough. Noticing when you are staring at your phone more than being in the moment is important. But, I do think making efforts for your children does make them feel special to an extent. And I do think documenting makes people feel important too. Just maybe snap the photo without directing and Instagram it later. ;-)

    • Angie Smith

      I love how you said this-yes!!! I agree:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tbhalterman Tasha Berry Halterman

    Wow! What a great, convicting post. I really felt like you were talking to me. But the whole cake pops in a mason jar example!?!? Ummm yeah. I had that exact thing at our 2 years olds birthday party a couple weeks ago. But it was my own original idea…Pinterest was not involved. :) seriously though thank you for being willing to be used to say the tough things.

  • Karleen Mauldin

    I’ll have to say… you didn’t step on my toes… But then again, I’m probably closer in age to your mother’s generation than I am to your generation…. Our kids’ birthday parties have always been at home, and family and a few close friends, home-made cake, and a few decorations — balloons and crepe paper streamers. My kids are 23, 18, 17, and 10. They’ve always loved their birthday parties!

  • http://twitter.com/bakeat350tweets bridget edwards

    Yes, just yes.

  • Terrie

    Here in the woods which I live in when we want to say Amen, we say Roll-tide. So I’m saying to you Roll-tide sister, Roll-tide!

  • Monica

    Great post — it is all about balance & being present — in that moment. As a mom– I just have to self reflect often– make sure that my motives are good. I did have to smile that I read this on pinterest — while I was making “Easter bark” from my pinterest board.

  • Tammy

    So much truth in the blog post, Angie.

    But, true to women in the comments section, we have found ways to mentally whittle other women down in some way. If it applies to us, then it’s going to sink in. If not, let it roll.

    I love Pinterest. I’m not super crafty and I don’t plan over the top birthday parties for my kids either. But, if someone does…really, good for them. Why do we always have to assume that women who are crafty, creative, organized, great planners, well dressed, and available and present to their children are somehow a reflection of ourselves. It’s all a little self-absorbed. Maybe the problem is us…not really asking Him what He thinks, but instead using a measuring stick that doesn’t have our name on it.

    As far as the comment about families who are struggling financially throwing over the top birthday parties…those are their lessons to learn and not really up to their guests to judge. I see it as a way of perpetuating an unhealthy cycle in relationships in women. So, unless that person spoke to those “friends” about it, the comment doesn’t do good for any of us here.

    • Angie W.

      “using a measuring stick that doesn’t have our name on it” What a visual! Thank you. I will use that in my reminders to myself based on 2 Cor. 10:12 that ” when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are not wise.” Oh the defeat in the trap of comparison.

  • http://twitter.com/STACSMIT Stacy

    I love this post. Wow. We are all so guilty of trying to make everything perfect and make our kids perfect and their lives perfect and you are right, it wasn’t like that for us and we are ok. I just want to love my kids and have them love me back. I have never thrown a birthday party and you know what they have never asked me for one,but they do get a day with our family and a homemade cake and they feel special. And you know what sometimes I am guilty of bringing my kids to church when I know they would have been better off at home instead of a special service, because I want them to know church as more than Sunday School, but I do want people to think wow, look how nice she brings her kids to worship(even thought they are probably thinking why in the world did she bring those kids to worship). This was and an amazing eye opening post. Thank you

  • Kara Linker

    SO true. That’s one of the reasons I’ve avoided getting a smart phone – I like not having to worry about the temptation to play around online when I should be paying attention to the kids! (The other reason is much more worldly – I can’t stand typing on a touch screen!) But I AM a photographer, and there is a fine line between preserving memories and creating fake ones, and I am notorious for crossing it! I think my kids to appreciate the artistry that goes into photos, but I’m sure I’ve missed out on memories I could be making with them because I’m taking photos. The good thing about taking photos for other people (both friends and people who hire me) is it frees them up to be a part of the memories!

  • Lindsay

    I certainly appreciate this bold reminder. Thank you.

  • Nicole

    I rarely comment, but I came over to your page by way of Boomama and all I can say is “Wow!” I can say that I have been guilty of allowing my children to be props. God has been revealing this to me on so many levels in the past few months. Your post was timely and another reminder of what my role is and what He expects from me. Thank you for your willingness to say what most of won’t.

  • http://www.iwriteispeakisnap.blogspot.com/ faith

    I love this post! I finally got a job as a technology teacher, and while I love how great technology is, I know how easy it is to get distracted and worry more about social media than embracing life. Here’s a quote that I thought I would share with you:

    “All children need a laptop. Not a computer, but a human laptop. Moms, Dads, Grannies and Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles – someone to hold them, read to them, teach them. Loved ones who will embrace them and pass on the experience, rituals and knowledge of a hundred previous generations. Loved one who will pass to the next generation their expectations of them, their hopes, and their dreams.”

    — General Colin L. Powell

    iwriteispeakisnap.blogspot.com

    Hugs,
    Faith

  • http://katemcraig.blogspot.com/ Kate Craig

    It’s a fine line. All of my birthday parties had themes and decorations and fun food, because that’s who my mom is, not because she was showing the pictures to anyone. I would mark ideas in my American Girl magazine and I loved that she followed through with them. And I love looking at pictures of parties I barely remember.

    So even if the internet didn’t exist, I would be doing themed parties, because that’s who I am, too. I was actually just thinking this week that I still haven’t blogged about my daughter’s first birthday. I had a blast pulling it together, I didn’t spend a ton of money, and it wasn’t stressful. Doing stuff like that gives me a sense of accomplishment that is sometimes hard to find as a SAHM.

    It hurts my feelings when people criticize me for being creative and it makes me want to lash out at them for training for a marathon or taking online classes or writing a book, even though I think it’s great that they are doing those things. I know you’re calling for moderation, but you see in the comments that others take it to Pinterest being a horrible terrible thing.

    I guess I’m saying, yes, my toes hurt. Not so much because of what you said but because of so many other posts. I feel like the working moms, the student moms, the crossfit moms are being lifted high while my breed is being stomped on. The crafting, DIY-ing SAHM that just wants to save some money and make things pretty.

    It is possible for Pinterest to be a time saver and not a competition. And my one year old loves my camera :)

    On the OTHER end, yes, I am totally embarassed when she throws a fit in public and I look around to see who is watching. I take her behavior way too personally and make it about me and not her.

    • lizzieborden_20

      I think this is VERY well said. I’m sure that the post may have not have been INTENDING to make people feel bad for this reason but I totally see how it could have. I also LOVE planning parties. I have since before my first son was born 9 1/2 years ago (back when I RARELY went online). So, I like to do little touches to things because I like to and my kids seem to enjoy it. I do get snarky comments from other moms about it sometimes….”over-achiever”, too much time on my hands (I have 4 kids, 2 of which I home school, 2 of which are two young and do all the “regular” mom stuff), etc. So I get what you’re saying. I actually don’t get to do as much because it’s been too hard to keep up with all the fun extras with 4 now. But I do it as I can, and when I can’t it’s no big deal either. Thanks for posting.

      • http://katemcraig.blogspot.com/ Kate Craig

        Thanks, Lizzie

    • http://thehowardbunch.com/ Mrs. Howard

      Thank you, Kate. This speaks very eloquently to how I was feeling.

      • http://katemcraig.blogspot.com katecraig

        Thanks, it’s encouraging to be reminded that I’m not alone!

    • stephanie

      I don’t usually respond to posts I read but perhaps you missed the line where the author said, “I’m not saying you should stop being creative if this is what you love
      and your passion comes from creating it and then letting your child
      revel in it. What I’m saying is that if you’re spending more time with
      your macro lens than you are hugging the birthday kid, you’ve missed the
      point. And they know it too.”. So as long as you are not spending too much time behind the lens I don’t think she was saying what you were doing was wrong. Just my two cents.

  • Ravhel155

    I’ve always been a over the top party planner but since the start of Pinterest my planning has gone in to overdrive. I needed this reminder the part isn’t about decor or fancy food it’s about fellowship.

  • lizzieborden_20

    This post brought so many different things to mind…mostly things I’ve read or listened to. There was mom (it may be Sally Clarkson but don’t quote me on that) that spoke of how her daughter used to wear a “well loved” either a tutu or leotard type thing. She wore it and danced around etc. Her mom was having a party for her and made her change, had the party etc etc etc. At the end, when everyone left, the little girl said something to the effect of “Mom, can we have my party now?” and all she wanted to do was put her leotard back on, get her little pinwheel she played with before guests arrived and dance around on the porch. That’s it. The way she tells it is great though (and I hope she doesn’t mind me paraphrasing it here). She kind of tells how she’s being a little snippy all the while saying in her mock cheerful voice…”This is for YOU…We’re having a party!!!” And I will admit…guilty on that charge for sure! Whenever we have people over I got into semi-panic mode. I openly admit to people that my house is never perfect or it’s a total mess or whatever. But when people are coming over for a visit, party etc. I HAVE to have it as close to perfect as it can get (which is not perfect at all but as close as I can get). So, although I have no blog, no instagram, no facebook, no “online presence” I guess what you say is true. Mine just isn’t in the form of pictures, phones, “technological devices”. Another funny thing….my 4 kids and I ran into one of our pastors from church (someone close to my age, we’ve gotten together with him and his wife and kids. Totally approachable). Two of my sons were ARGUING in the elevator in front of him about WHO GETS TO PRESS THE BUTTON!!!! So, yes, although I was quick to think this post wasn’t about me, I see I was wrong. It seems to come in different forms I guess. Thank you!

  • http://faithinforever.blogspot.com/ caitlinfitz

    Love this. I’m not a mom yet, but I see lessons in this for everyone. We all need to stop comparing ourselves so much. No one is perfect, even if they seem to be in every picture or post they put up. Or on every Sunday when they walk into church. Their morning was probably a disaster and their mind is probably a hot mess. But they are there in His house and that is all that matters. He loves us for that and we have to learn to see others and especially ourselves through His eyes. No one is perfect. That’s not the point. Just love and do your best. That’s all He asks :)

  • Amanda

    Thank you for this post. I have two beautiful, intelligent children whom I love “in circles.” Both of them are experiencing growing pains and my almost-three-year-old is very head strong and “all boy.” This weekend I broke down and sobbed because I feel like he is out of control and that people view my husband and I as terrible parents because he is so wild right now. Your post (and a good cry on my mom’s shoulder) reminded me that I am not raising him for an audience of millions, I am raising him for an audience of ONE. Thank you.

  • Christina

    I get pretty pious about those “other” moms who go pinterest crazy on Valentines and birthday parties. But I am definitely “that” mom focusing on my camera and trying to get the perfect shot to post on FB or my blog. In my defense, I love the memories captured in the pictures. But if I’m being honest, I could get the memory in just a few clicks, I don’t need to stay behind the camera all day. Thanks for calling us out, and stepping on toes. Real friends speak the truth, even when its hard to hear.

  • Cynthia Finley

    So much truth! Started “momming” before Pinterest. How in the world did I do it? Embarrassment of all embarrassments – I threw a neighborhood party for my then three-year-old, but had never received the memo that birthday party GUESTS were supposed to receive presents disguised as super-cute goodie bags. Whoops!

  • http://twitter.com/janemaynard janemaynard (twfd)

    lovely, thank you. :)

  • moonstars11

    I’m chiming in late here but I fear that I may become one of those moms that’s too focused to capture the moment that she’s not actually living in the moment. Not because I don’t want to be in the moment with my child/children but because I’m terrified that 1 day I’m going to look back when I’m old and gray and they are grown and forget the memories. Does that make sense? Our first child, a boy, is due May 18th and I’m currently struggling with the idea that I maybe missing out on these sweet moments of even carrying him. That I won’t have his baby book finished and the pictures of him in utero won’t be put in their frames before he’s even here. It makes me sick. I’m sure some of that has to do with being OCD about everything in my life but partly I think it’s also due to the fact that I don’t want to miss a thing or forget anything. Anytime my husband and I go places and I don’t take pictures because I’ve been too involved in the moment, I have this huge guilt trip later that I may not remember those moments and that I SHOULD have taken pictures of us enjoying 1 another. It’s a constant battle in my head. I’m not sure how to balance the guilt of that out. This really has nothing to do with social media at all but with how I perceive the moments in my life. So yes, this is a great post because it did step on my toes but for so many other reasons than social media. I just pray that I’m able to capture the moments while still living in them when our son is here. I so want to be present and yet be able to capture the memories. Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me? I fear I may miss moments because of this turmoil that I struggle with wanting to have the memories in photo books etc. and yet I’m afraid I won’t have the pictures to hold the memories because I want to be so present in the moments. Such a vicious thought process…..

    • Kat

      dear moonstar, I feel your turmoil. But do remember that photos will get lost, destroyed. Photo books will be misplaced. Pictures can get burned or wrecked or ruined. But memories are what will last. Trust me. You will not forget.

      • moonstars11

        Thank you for that. You are right all of those things can happen to photographs. I’m married to a fire fighter and I have seen first hand how photos can go up in a matter of seconds with a house fire but I guess I just needed the nudge of a simple reminder. Bless you for reaching out to a complete stranger. Reading this just made my day. =-)

  • Ashlee

    Don’t mind me. Just picking up my pride off the floor. I really get what you are saying about the parties. I’d be lying if I said everything I did was for my girls. Most of it is, but a little is for me. I want to hear someone say how good of a job I did decorating. At the same time, I really love the process and enjoy it so, so much. What really got me, however, was the part about pictures. Confession: I had sweet smocked Easter dresses for my girls to wear on Sunday. My youngest happened to be sick and not feeling well. But I couldn’t let that stop me from getting a picture of them in their dresses so I could put it on Facebook and Instagram and my blog. I turned into “Mean Mom” as I sternly told them to look at me! and smile! bigger smile! please look at me! This happens all the time. I’m more concerned with capturing something on my camera rather than enjoying the moment. Or being ok with not posting an Easter picture on Facebook so people will like it.

  • Amanda

    I have shared this post with everyone. Even if I tried I dont think I could properly convey what an impact it has been! Thanks so much for you honesty. Wishing you and your family many many blessings!

  • cat moore

    A-to-the-men! Love you, Angie! I totally get what you are trying to say here and i love your heart! I feel the same exact way. :) Love this post and I’m sharing it!

  • Jonnilin Danford

    well said angie! love you!

  • kathleen

    Thank you for posting this… I needed to hear this extremely bad. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Jackie

    I always love reading your posts. I think this was very well said. My sister-in-law (who I love dearly) is so organized, creative, and put together. She doesn’t need pinterest…her brain is like a giant pinterest board of wonderful ideas! I often feel inferior when I read her blog posts, not because of anything she has said, but because that is not me. A few years ago, I was telling my husband that I could never be a SAHM because I wouldn’t have the perfect dinner planned every night, my house wouldn’t be spotless, I wouldn’t put wallpaper on the walls of my pantry, etc… I still remember the conversation because it meant so much when he told me that he married me because of those things, not in spite of them. He loves that I’m sort of mess sometimes, because we all are. So if being creative is your passion, go for it. I’m just lucky to have a sister-in-law to do it all for me! :) I am a working mom, and some days I wish that I wasn’t. I don’t feel that my job is harder (or easier for that matter) than a SAHM. Being a mom is hard! We all do it wrong some days. Those are the days that we really get to feel God’s grace in our lives. I didn’t feel judgement in what you said…I felt love and compassion for all of the different mothers out there. And if you don’t want to create, that is what Etsy is there for! :)

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for expressing in words what I’ve been struggling with for a long time. I did a social media fast for (part of ) Lent and, unfortunately, quickly returned to my old habits. I try to find a healthy balance, but many times I can feel God making me aware that I am posting pictures and updates about my kids “for me”. I don’t know why I feel the pressure to impress my FB friends, many of who aren’t even really my friends IRL, but I do. I will definitely think twice about every post regarding my kids going forward and about all of my social media activity. I am truly afraid of how social media is going to impact my daughters’ lives (they’re 5 and 9) and hope that I can model the proper way to handle social media to them. Thank you again for this wonderful post.

  • MistyD

    This really hit home with me. I left FB months ago because I watched two friends lives spiral out of control and end in divorce all on FB through their pictures and posts (lose weight – check, dress like a teenager even though I’m waaayy past it – check, hit the bars with friends – check, change my relationship status to single – check). It made me so sad and I just didn’t like being witness to that. BUT I have been completely guilty of over sharing my kids lives on FB because it made me feel good to see all the likes and “they are so beautiful/smart/fabulous” comments. It was a hard break, but I feel that I’m better off without a FB now.

    And as I preschool teacher I 110% identify with the whole Pinterest obsession/competition. I try to tell myself that I do all this stuff for my kiddos. Spend hours poring over teacher websites and trying to be the best teacher because that’s who I am. Deep inside I realize that often I am secretly hoping parents like me better than the teacher across the hall who teaches the same age group. That I am the “awesome” teacher everyone wants their child to have. On the surface I don’t consciously set out to be that way, but I think it’s easy to get caught up in trying to be the best and brightest through the things we make and do. While there is nothing wrong with trying to be our best, when it starts to overshadow God, our time with Him, our work for Him (and honestly, how much glory is God getting out of my super cute classroom?) then there is a problem. I’ve slowly come to terms with this and am trying to change my way of thinking but it is hard. Thank you for sharing your heart here Angie!

  • Heather

    This was nourishment to my soul. Thank you for expressing what so many people are feeling and thinking regarding social media. I was just asking myself last night if most of the intentions behind all of the “perfect pictures” were used to glorify God or to stroke our own egos in front of man. You hit the nail on the head with this post; thank you for your honesty…it is SOOOOO refreshing.

  • carrie

    A little tardy to the party, but the 4 most.convicting words my boys can utter: “put your phone away”.

  • traceymomlifetoday

    YES YES YES!!!! It is about relationship with your child, not doing for your child or the audience you seek to please. “Be” with your child. As a mom of a college student and a teen I promise you…you speak truth here! I hope moms will consider and seek the Father through prayer.

  • Kelly Davis

    Amen and amen!!

  • http://mindyrogers.blogspot.com/ Mindy Rogers

    These things are easier to do when we know that other moms are rejecting them too. Thank you for creating a place where I can be encouraged to just “be”.

  • alison hill

    i just discovered your bog and I I feel as though you have been in my head. I have varied between not feeling “together” enough, to trying to do the cutest little thing like so and so did to just flat out rejecting the possibility of even allowing my kids to be friends with other children that have a mom that coordinates her clothes and never forgets to put mascara on both eyes.

    You hit the spot when you said “How good a Christian ” you are. I have been there ,filled with envy for others perfect ways or scripture training. I felt guilty for many years because did not homeschool, or have a spiritual ritual for every holiday or dint actaully require that my children bathe every night.. Some was judgement by others but most was me feeling inferior . That the Lord must really loves those moms who do that , they are more worthy of that love I thought. SO I have overcompensated with a bit of parenting publicity myself- and you know what
    it never feels good
    It never fulfills – it only puffs up my present moment and I am not fooling anyone
    least of all my kids and certainly not my God

    and it causes me to miss out like you said on WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW

    I’m am most at peace when I just love them – when I don’t expect from them, I don’t demand from them I don’t Manipulate them

    I have had some rude awakening about myself but I am grateful for them.
    And when I finally just settled into being me and asking God to make me like no one else except HIm I found out how much He loves me and how easy It is to love Him

  • Melissa

    I’m not a parent, but man Angie, I so feel the pressure to present myself perfect. Sadly it’s not just on social media. For me it begins with the “I’m fine” when people ask how I am.

    It’s all about transparency and I know this, but I struggle so much. This post was so thought provoking. Man. Thank you.

  • Mandy B.

    What a blessing!! I do not find my identity in FB anymore as I have in the past and it is so freeing for me personally. I now get to focus more on my family and finding my true identity in Christ! Thank you for sharing

  • http://beyond-yesterday.com/blog Jen

    Thank you, Angie. I needed this reminder. <3

  • ursula

    I love this. For my son’s 3rd birthday he wanted soccer party hats, purple balloons, strawberry cupcakes, and green cups. That was it. It was crazy hard on me that it had no theme or sense and I thought about vetoing him. Luckily my husband is not insane and told me just to honor his wishes. It wa a great party.

  • Jessica

    Wowza, I don’t even do pinterest parties but this is so convicting and so awesome, and just so well said. Amen sister. Thank you!

  • http://www.jhigginbothamphotography.com/ Jennifer

    Well said. My toes are sore but that’s okay, I needed it and vow to make my moments with them truly count. <3