This post is an op-ed of sorts, featuring an opinion/personal conviction/pet peeve of mine. Disagree as you please; I will climb down off my soapbox momentarily, and then we can be friends again. It’s nothing personal.
Dear other mothers, or soon-to-be mothers,
Let’s have a chat. I don’t know if there’s a delicate way to say this, so I’m just going to shoot from the hip.
Please, please do not discuss your child’s bodily functions on Twitter or Facebook.
I’m not bothered by the lesser offenses, farts or burps or whatever. I mean to say, we do not want to hear about the goings on of your infant’s/toddler’s excretory system. Ever.
I waited until AFTER I had a baby to discuss this, to see if my opinion would change with motherhood. It has not.
As I see it, there are three kinds of “Excrement Statuses.” They are all equally gross, and, speaking for the general public, we would appreciate it if you would keep all three to yourself.
1. The “Cry for Help/Validation” status (usually sounds something like this):
“I’ve already changed little Suzie FIVE times this morning and she just another naassssttyy diaper. Ugh. I guess I’ll be washing clothes all morning again- SIGH. Motherhood is the hardest job in the world…”
First of all, do you see how gross this sounds when it isn’t referring to your own little snuggle bug? Secondly, I have a child. She is two; she is potty-training. I get than a lot of times, your day revolves around your child’s excretory system. I know how quickly a mother can go through a bottle of carpet cleaner, or a bottle of anti-anxiety meds. I get it, I do.
I know what happens when kids kids reach that precious age of learning how to take of their own diapers; I know all about wanting to fake your own death and run away to Mexico. I admit to having taken a picture of a bio-hazardous situation and sent it to my husband’s phone, saying, “If you don’t come rescue me now, the men in the white coats will be on our doorstep before quittin’ time.”
(For those of you who don’t have kids, let me clue you in on a little secret. Mothers do not like cleaning up icky things any more than you do. If some excretory-status-posting-moms have led you to believe this, you’ve been deceived. Giving birth does not magically turn off your sense of smell, or your sense of hygiene. This notion that mothers smile and hum and sway back and forth lovingly as we change dirty diapers is a MYTH. We hold our breath, scrunch up our faces and do what we’ve gotta do because we love our kids with a sacrificial love. We don’t enjoy it; we endure it. Myth: busted.)
I’ve send Dan an attention-seeking “cry for help” text – but he’s my husband, and he signed on for this. I’m allowed to cry to him for help; you can cry to your husbands (or parents, or best friends, or nannies, or boyfriends, or counselors) for help, too. But a Facebook status is not an appropriate place to discuss how many onesies you’ve had to wash today. It’s just gross.
2. The “Funny” status:
This one usually revolves around the same kind of incident as the “Cry for Help” status – the mother just tends to be having a better day, or a better attitude, or more medication or something. It sounds something like this:
“Oh. my. gosh. I didn’t know so much could come out of such a little person. Ew! HA HA HA. At least he’s a cute little stinker!”
Here’s the thing: If you want to write a book, or start a blog about the surprises and joys of motherhood, I encourage you to do it. It might even be a hit. But if you’re going to post observations about bowel movements or projectile vomiting, or projectile anything else, may I suggest doing it in a place where people CHOOSE to visit and read? Like a personal blog with a big, giant disclaimer on the top of it? **I’m about to discuss really gross things my kid did today, so if you don’t want to hear about it, GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN!**
If someone continues reading after that, more power to ‘em. They were duly warned. But when my phone buzzes and it’s a tweet about how hilarious your kids most recent potty-training mishap was? That is THE quickest way to get an “unfollow.”
Perhaps the perky, ever-loving optimist in you is just too tempted to share your “there’s-humor-in-every-situation” attitude with the world. If you’re a “Funny Excrement” poster, I admire your zest for life. But show some restraint. I will be sure to check your blog when I’m not eating on my lunch break.
3. The last type of Excrement Status is the “VICTORY” status.
At my present stage of parenting, this variety is the hardest for me to resist. It usually sounds something like this:
“Madeline pooped in the toilet this morning! All by herself! Aaannd, we went to Wal-Mart for 2 hours and she was dry the whole time!”
I understand on a deep level the TRIUMPH of a trip to the grocery store with dry undies, but I have to remind myself (AS SHOULD YOU) that the vast majority of my (your) hundreds of facebook friends (think: people from high school, former professors, colleagues, romantic interests, bosses, etc.) don’t wan’t to hear it. I’d venture to say that nobody wants to hear it.
That’s not to say that I don’t share little victories with people in my life. It’s pretty exhilarating when 2 years of back-breaking work pay off because your kid is leaps and bounds closer to successful adulthood armed with speech and bladder control. But send your mom a text. Send your playgroup moms an email. Spare your children their dignity by not splashing their private bathroom lives all over your social media accounts. They are real people that be snotty 14-year-olds one day. Don’t give them another reason to resent you.
When I was discussing this particular form of over-sharing with a friend of mine (privately!) she summed it up well by saying,
“I want to hear about your child’s BMs about as much as I want to hear about yours.”
Which, to help you read between the lines, is none.