Some of us parents lead a double life. Not the exciting kind where you end up in Ankara with no recollection of how you got there or why you're wearing only one stiletto, but a double life of the mind. We make our mom faces, wear our mom clothes, and use our mom vocabulary. Even those of us who are "cool moms" create a mom persona -- it doesn't have to be all braided hair and cookie dough. My mom persona is constructed out of different parts: part is my own personality, part is what I think mothers should look and sound like, part is how my mother was, and another part is a new creation -- something that came out of me after my kids came along, that wasn't there before. I like being a mom.
However, I do have a separate piece of my brain that's entirely personal. This piece is a survivor from a time before my children; maybe part single girl, part newlywed, maybe even part teenager. I try to let it change and grow apart from my "mom" self, so that I don't just become the mom and abandon the real me. So that I don't look around when my kids leave for college and realize I have nothing to do but wait for grandchildren. Writing novels is part of that separate piece, and blogging is part of the separate piece (peace?) and recently Facebook, for me and a lot of moms I know, has become part of it.
Yes, we've always had our email lists and phone calls, but there's something about posting OMFG, I need them to be asleep. Must. have. quiet. as one of my friends did recently, that provides instant gratification. You wouldn't write an email to say "Why is it that my children think they need to physically help me open a pack of gum?" But if you Facebook it or Twitter it, you'll have five or six amusing answers within a few minutes, and nowadays really that's all you want. Email has become the new snail mail -- it feels cumbersome, antiquated, and formal, like you need a really good reason to do it, especially to a whole group. Facebook and Twitter is where you go for instant luv now. To shout out to your mom homies, and hear a "hellz yeah" back. Of course, you can't shout out to your mom homies with the children in the room.
But it's not just about complaining about your kids. As more people find and use Facebook, your friend list becomes a synthesis of your entire life. You have high school friends, college friends, ex-boyfriends, professional acquaintances, people who only knew you when you played in a rock band, people who only knew you when you were a cool writer chick, etc. Putting all these people in one place is perplexing enough, without introducing them en masse to your children, who may not know that Mommy wrote a kind of edgy experimental book back in the 90s, who may not see Mom as a rocker, who have no concept of any previous life that Mom may have led, or really anything that existed before they, the children, came into the world.
Which is why you get posts like this, from another friend: I need to post something funny but don't want any speshul snowflaks to see. To which I responded: Whisper it in groanupps langwadj. And another mom added: We must find a way around this... Well, don't we still have email? Don't we still have the telephone? Yeah, we do. But since we've tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of Facebook and Twitter, we can't go back to the old way of doing things. Anyone want to run out and register Mombook.com?
To recap, there are three reasons to NOT friend your kids on Facebook:
1. No more bitching about the kids or reporting the funny things they do/say.
2. Kids get to meet Ralph the pierced stoner and experience all his video posts, then ask me how I know this Ralph guy and what those people are doing with that garden hose.
3. Now I have to edit everything I say to make sure it's safe for the dinner table.
But some of us have kids old enough to have their own Facebook accounts. High schoolers, even. So, are there any reasons TO friend your kids?
1. Know what your kids are up to. This was actually the reason I joined Facebook in the first place, and my first two friends were my two teenaged stepchildren. See -- it works both ways. Maybe someplace on LiveJournal there's a post called "Would You Friend Your Mom on Facebook?"
2. If they ask you to friend them, and you don't friend them, then that feels mean. And it is mean. There's just no way around it. You don't want to say "I won't be your friend" to your child, even if you explain it in the kindest possible way.
3. Maybe, just maybe, it's a good thing for the kids to see their moms in this context.
For example: Yes, Mom has friends. Yes, Mom makes snarky comments about politics to people I've never met. No, I don't get all the inside jokes on her Flair corkboard. No, I didn't know she went to college in three different places. Seeing mom in the context of other adults, in the context of the great big world, and witnessing some interactions that have nothing to do with children, nothing to do with them, might just be good for our kids, especially the older ones. I have no solution to the privacy problem or our need for an "Adults Only" zone that's just as fun and immediate as Facebook, but until we figure it out, I am pretty sure that friending your kid is the only thing you can do.
What do you think?
Related post: Twitter, Tumblr, and Tags: You Are Still All Alone