Author: April Brannan
I know that this time of year, Facebook gets inundated with "first day of school" pics - complete with blinged out chalkboards, matching outfits, and about a hundred "outtake" shots where one kid was picking their nose, or the other just burped, or they're both shoving each other because they are SO over this. And I would guess that any non-mommies probably are also SO over this when their Facebook feeds are completely full of kids on their first day of school.
Ahem...in case you missed them, here's my lineup -
Here's the thing - these snapshots aren't really for sharing with the world - they're for memories for the photographer...but if any mommies are like me, they've forgone the baby book for the more convenient Facebook or #instababybook - a click or two away, no printing necessary, easy editing, and instant time/date stamp. I couldn't tell you the date I was proposed to, my first date, or when Allie got her first tooth...because I wasn't on Facebook yet. But now, if anyone asks me about Caden's development milestones, how long we've had our dog, or when I got my last haircut, forget the calendar app - I go straight to Facebook.
I view these posts through my own unique-but-not-actually-that-unique perspective: my mommy goggles, if you will. "Moggles," if you're fond of sticking words together like my sister is (or if you're a J.K. Rowling fan and it makes you giggle.) Because of my mommy goggles, I don't see the back to school poses as redundant. I don't care that nobody else cares that Caden only has five stickers on his potty chart, or that Allie loves to sleep with a creepy, ratty old one-eyed koala. I will click every filter option on my Instagram pic until I find the perfect setting that both highlights my daughter's youth and hides my gray hair and blemished face. Not because I don't want the world to judge me...but because this will help me remember how things were at this stage...and I don't want ME to judge me. I want to either portray the perfect mom, or at least the easy-breezy nonchalant mom that can laugh off her mistakes with a sarcastic #momoftheyear...but nothing in between. I will both shamelessly crop out the dirty laundry and shamelessly highlight it because I am making a STATEMENT about how post-modern my housekeeping skills are...but I would never accidentally leave the dirty laundry in the picture. It's only trendy and not gross if I leave it in the picture ON PURPOSE. But I don't really go to all that effort for the public arena in which I'm displaying these photos...and really not even for far away family members (although I will constantly admit to "over-posting" ONLY because my dad lives in Montana.) This effort is for future-me.
Because, while my "moggles" recognize the importance of each moment that I whip out the phone camera for...my frazzled mommy brain won't really remember much of it in the next few hours, not to mention years. For instance, flipping back through pictures of my early Facebook days, I found this gem:
and I couldn't believe I hadn't remembered to pic stitch together a duo of that sweet wanna-be kindergartener with the actual kindergartener last year! Like, this one, perhaps:
(And it just so happens that mommy was a kindergarten teacher for both of those pictures, just two different districts and four years apart!)
See, my mommy goggles notice cool full-circle moments like that. Frazzled mommy brain can't tell you what we ate for dinner, but I slipped on the moggles and noticed something about this sweet moment I snapped tonight:
That chair. That six year old cheap Ikea chair that I squeak-rocked Allie to sleep in tonight - that is a part of my mommy story. I had almost forgotten that I bought that chair when I was pregnant with Allie, and that I rolled around my kindergarten classroom in it that whole year. I kept a glass of water close by that chair at all times, because I was SURE that my water would break at school and I wouldn't know what to tell the kids, so I figured I would pretend to spill the water and then nonchalantly head to the hospital. I sat in that chair when my sweet kindergarteners (and their sweet mommies) threw me a baby shower. After Allie was born and I was getting ready to come back to work, I brought her to school with me on the weekends and nursed her to sleep in that chair. A few years later, when I FINALLY had my own classroom again (after a year as an aide that felt like a decade) I sat, pregnant again, at my desk in that chair, typing an announcement to my parents that I was expecting. I sat in that same spot, just a couple weeks later, letting them know I had suffered a miscarriage...and then several weeks later, that I was pregnant again. That was quite a roller coaster ride we went on, my teacher chair and me, that year. I sat in that chair, feeling Caden kick, terrified that I would stop feeling him at any moment. I would waddle over to Allie's daycare across the street every day after school, and try to keep up with her on the way back to school, and then she would sit in my soon elusive lap while I tried to catch up on work and rock her at the same time. The year after Caden was born, I sat in that chair and pumped milk for him twice a day, trying to work on my computer and keep from spilling...and I was devastated as each thirty minute pumping session only yielded a few ounces. It was in that chair that I made the heartbreaking decision to start supplementing with formula, sure that it would signal the end of his breast feeding too soon. I sat in that chair about a year and a half after that, nursing my 20-ish month old to sleep on a Saturday afternoon at work, knowing that this time it really WAS going to be the end of our nursing but feeling peace and gratitude that we lasted so long. That chair helped me move into three new classrooms in the next four years, as I rolled my supplies around in it and my stroller. This year, we took it home for the summer and home it has stayed, because I got a hand-me-down desk chair from a fellow teacher that was MUCH comfier and squeaked a little less.
And then tonight, I rocked her to sleep in that squeaky old chair...something I haven't done (in that chair anyway) for several years. I took the picture because I thought it was sweet that she fell asleep so quickly, but as I was picking the right Instagram filter, my mommy goggles spotted the corner of the chair and those memories came a-flooding. It blew my mind that this baby, who was inside my belly just MINUTES ago, is now taking spelling tests, having sleepovers, selling Girl Scout cookies, and begging to get her ears pierced because "EVERYONE in my class has their ears pierced, Mom!"
I share all this to say - be patient with over-posting mommies. These snapshots into our kids' lives might seem boring or excessive to you, but with mommy goggles firmly in place, they become EVERYTHING. It isn't about the "mommy wars" as we try to outdo one another. It isn't about using our kids as an excuse to show off our new manicure. It isn't about making excuses for our inevitable absences from work (although a picture of a pitiful sicky kiddo sure couldn't hurt if your coworkers are sick of covering for you.)
It's about keeping a record of these soon forgotten moments, and making connections from past to present. It's about keeping the mommy goggles polished so we can efficiently spot and document these little people as they grow up right before our eyes. Yes, it's about sharing with friends and family the amazing miracles we've been charged with raising. But it's mainly because these moments are so fleeting...and if we capture them in an Instagram album, maybe they won't be forgotten.