I am a part of a big Mom support network on Facebook. The group is full of women I would call my tribe. I know I can put the call out and get advice, help, commiseration, meals, support, hand me downs, a reality check and lots of strong opinions.
There is the safety of editing and being able to see your words in black and white before you hit enter- with that, typically, comes a more thoughtful response. But with that also comes anonymity. . . supposed anonymity. There is space between you and the person you are talking to, safety in a screen between you, and a whole lot more bravado in an online presence than an in-life one. And sometimes, that means we get hurt. I know this is a pretty big problem in the blogging world too. I have been lucky enough to only have had a handful of mean comments thrown my way, and I typically can get them deleted before they hardly hit the screen. But on Facebook it isn’t quite as simple.
Lately the words have been hitting me harder. I am not only a member of this group, I am one of the two creators of it. The group was born out of a genuine want and need for support- tangible real support from women in our town. But as it grows so does this group’s ability, knowledge and scope. This group is close to my heart and, maybe embarrassingly, really important to me. I am dedicated to not deleting content that I don’t want there if the sole reason is that I don’t agree with it. The point is for Moms, in any parenting style, to find informed support and ideas, tangible help and, often times, light hearted photos-memes-inspiration, etc.
This is a group that can DO stuff. Like, provide gifts for 25 families. Bring a huge group of PP Moms together to spread body love. Cover Moms in meals, clothes and childcare. This group does good.
But it also can be really hard to be a member when 1200 women means 1200 opinions. And it means, for me, moderating all those opinions. And, I fail often. I lean one way (duh) and it’s hard to remain impartial. I am also a really sensitive person and peoples words about how they feel about this group hit me hard “I only use it to find clients” or “I wouldn’t post there because I am scared of the responses” or ” I left it long ago because there is no support” . . . they are all valid feelings, have lots of truth to them, and are personal opinions (shared with the collective Facebook). And all of them have bruised me.
I know this group offers support. I know that Moms of every parenting variety have found it there. From Babywise or Weissbluth to Sears and Cohen there have been Moms getting love, support, and answers. Even if it means wading through a debate. And I don’t think debate is wholly evil or that we should all just ‘leave well enough alone’ in parenting. I want people to challenge my choices, I want to defend them and learn more- I know I don’t make the best choices 100% of the time and I need that debate in order to be a better Mom. And to be a Mom who is willing to change. I think the biggest lesson I have learned in the past three years is that if I think I know it all and don’t need to change, I am doing my girls a disservice. I can always be doing better and I need the love, encouragement, gentle suggestions and accountability to make that happen.
I don’t have any pretty way to wrap this up. I didn’t plan to write this post, or about this group, at all. But I have been feeling pretty bruised by some of the talk about it. For all of its debate, opinion, and “judgement” I think it is pretty damn successful. And I needed to process this, get it out there and feel it. And writing it out is how I do it.
I will say this, if anyone on it is using it solely for clients, or feels like they can’t find any measure of support there (be that giving it or receiving it)- then click to leave the group. One of the most beautiful things about this Support Network is that is has born many, many branch groups. There is a place for everyone on this huge internet, find it and be kind in it.