Kids in the Capital City

Kids in the Capital City: The plight of the modern Austin mother

Kids in the Capital City: The plight of the modern Austin mother

iPhone 4s, cell phone, camera, photograph, Apple
That child better have sunscreen on!

The modern mom has it tough.

Sure, thanks to our digital age, many things related to motherhood have greatly improved. Netflix makes late-night feedings bearable. Thanks to photo sharing, your family can have direct access to all the photos of your pint-sized addition they want (which doesn’t and won’t stop you from oversharing anyway).

Instagram brings with it a variety of small shop kids’ clothes and platforms to connect with parents the world over. With Facebook, any conundrum can quickly be resolved with the quick crowdsourcing of a parenting group. Don’t even get me started on Amazon Prime — I ordered so many things during those sleepless first few weeks that I’m still on a first-name basis with our UPS guy.

However, I maintain that even with all our technological takeaways, modern motherhood is trickier than ever.

First of all, there’s Pinterest. You get a taste of the Pinterest wormhole with a wedding. You’re pinning flowers and invitations and table cards and before you know it, you’re convinced you need a DIY photobooth and a custom popcorn machine.

As soon as you get that positive pregnancy test, the nursery décor board begins. Making sure your child’s room is picture-perfect is an amount of pressure no new mother should face. And yet, I more than once contemplated getting a $100 houseplant for my infant’s room, and his wall art is more curated than the damn MOMA. Whatever.

Then there’s the social media announcement. You make it "out of the woods” as they say, and it’s time to tell the world, ideally with some sort of pun or carefully planned photo.

It’s well-received, but as soon as it’s out there, you must begin your "Pregnancy Documentation Plan," a series of carefully executed social media posts over the next nine months. Get that bump out there, mamas; the world demands it. And don’t even think of posting any complaint about your life as it stands because as soon as you do, your comments will blow up. “Just wait until you have a baby,” they say. It’s a lot.

Of course, once the baby is here, there are the photos. Many opt for a photo-free life for their children, and more power to them. For those who choose to document, it's a fine line that can be tough to navigate. Too many photos and you’re a social pariah, accepted only by your fellow breeders. Not enough and your sweet old aunt asks for more. Of course, as a parent, you maintain that everything your child does is undoubtedly worth sharing, and often post with abandon. Your friends probably still judge you, but only in private.

Which brings me to what I think is the toughest plight of today’s mom: the mom-shaming.

Many moms, myself included, are members of a wide variety of online communities geared towards parenting. One such group boasts nearly 15,000 Austin moms, ready to help with pacifier recommendations and toilet training tips. But post a picture of a car seat strap mildly loose (we were parked!) or a baby with a bottle any later than is socially acceptable, and you face the wrath of the mom-shamers.

Are you co-sleeping? Shame. Does your child use a pacifier beyond age 2? Shame. Are you feeding your baby food that isn’t organic? Double shame. Are you formula feeding your baby? Letting them have sugar? Shames times infinity.

Moms of yesteryear didn’t have to deal with this. They took the kid home and hoped for the best. They formula fed, they let us play with whatever toys we had, and we turned out okay. They didn’t have to worry about oversharing or underachieving. They just did what they had to do. And I’m a little jealous.

However, as sad as it is, I can’t imagine my life without social media. I don’t have grand ambitions to disconnect, and I know that about myself. I’ve made my digital bed, and I have to lie in it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be off to update my toddler’s Instagram feed. Nobody’s perfect, right?