Let’s face it — not all babies are cute. Except for mine.
No really, I may be biased, but like thousands and thousands of parents out there, I do feel like MY children are the prettiest, most photogenic children out there…so much that they can be baby models if I want them to be. I call my son “The Mixed Gerber Baby” because he’s half white, half Asian, although he looks more white to me. (Both of my kids took after their dad’s side, physically speaking).
But let’s be real here — I am not going to be one of those pricks who always claims that their child is the cutest or the best of anything, because I’ve learned in the four years that I’ve been a parent that EVERY.SINGLE.PARENT feels the same way about their child. But does that mean that every parent is biased?
Once upon a time, before you had children and an active Facebook account, you were spammed with baby pictures of your friend’s babies — from the time they were born (those “first moment” photos from the hospital usually gets the most likes, despite their dark, bleary, sterile environment) to their first birthday parties to outings at the park, playdates with other children, etc… you see them all! And you like ’em, right? Or so it seems. But since you don’t have any children of your own, you start wishing that you had children so you can spam YOUR friends with cute baby pictures. Over time, you start developing a sense of jealousy, a certain level of resentment, because it seems like their kids and your friends (the parents) are having fun — everyone’s smiling for the camera, even in those blurry photos. And suddenly, you’re in a zealous pursuit of a child yourself.
Little do you know that all those smiles are the “good” days, masked by the cries, screams and freak-outs on most days. The good days and good moments may be small, but they are worth their weight in gold, because what the parents want you to see is the happy moments of parenting. It makes you want to be a parent yourself.
Then, when it FINALLY happens, you start spamming your friends with your baby pictures, exclaiming how cute they are, and how wonderful they are. That usually happens within the first few hours of them being born. When you finally get home from the hospital, you discover that the first few nights are a killer. The first few weeks are a killer, filled with a multitude of wake-up calls every few hours, cries more piercing than anything that you could’ve imagined, including a mountain of dirty diapers and more stained clothing than you’ve ever experienced in your whole life.
The sleep deprivation sets in and that is when you go online and start Googling “How to…” questions.. such as, “How to feed my baby in a football position,” “How to burp a baby” and “How to tell whether or not my baby is eating enough,” or “How to sleep after you have a baby.” But of course, you don’t share these with your Facebook/Instagram friends right?
That’s what I mean, my friends. In a technology-driven world that we live in today, we are inundated with images of what parenting should be, not what it actually is. I remember seeing a million pictures of a kid whose parent I went to high school with every single day. From the time that he woke up to the time that he went to sleep, it seemed as if his parent took pictures of him at every moment in time. And she shared them a lot. It was okay at first, but after awhile I started getting annoyed… mainly because this kid was just kind of ugly. I thought to myself, “If I wanted to look at an ugly creature, I would just go to the zoo and look at some orangutans.” He was no Gerber baby, that’s for sure.
When I finally had my daughter Lily, I also started spamming people with pictures of her. I wouldn’t be surprised if those “friends” of mine secretly hated me and blocked out images of my daughter every time she appeared on their feed. I don’t blame them. I was so incredibly obsessed with my firstborn, and how beautiful she is that I started posting a bazillion pictures of her.
Of course, I still think she’s beautiful these days, but at the age of four, I’ve learned a thing or two about parenting on social media. I learned that there is a time and a place for such sharing. I’ve learned that there’s a limit on how much you should share, and that you should not give a shit about what other people think of your children, but you should be mindful of what your children might think of you. Sometimes, when I’m taking pictures of Lily, she would say after awhile, “Okay, that’s enough.”
And I’d stop.
It is a universally acknowledged truth that once you have a kid, you live your life through your kid. Because why else would you feel resentment and possibly hatred for those who spammed you with images of their children but at the same time you do the exact same thing when you have kids of your own? Also, because once you have a kid, your social life is pretty much nonexistent…or over, for that matter.
But back to my own kids — within the past year or two, I’ve become more aware of how I share pictures of my kids through social media. I decided to put myself in their shoes and asked, “What would they think if they were to see these pictures in the future? How would they feel about me posting all of these photos? Would they be comfortable with it or would they be seriously annoyed with me?” These are important questions to ask yourself, I realized. Not every child wants to be advertised on their parents social media accounts every single day.
These days, I still post images of my kids on my Instagram account, but I’ve slowed down a little. When I was pregnant with my son James, I definitely slowed down a lot. There were perhaps two pictures related to him — one announcing that I was pregnant, and one right after he was born. I felt that this was plenty. While you yourself may be inclined to post images of every single month of pregnancy (to track your baby bump), I don’t personally believe in doing so, because all my kids need to know is that I did indeed carry them to full term in my belly, hence that is the reason why they are alive in the first place.
Do I think that it’s wrong to share pictures of your kids and your life? No, absolutely not. In fact, I follow a lot of mamas on Instagram, and find them quite lovely. But at the same time, I also feel a pang of jealousy because damn, the fact that they can actually do this on a regular basis means that they either have A) a lot of time on their hands, AKA they’re a stay-at-home mom, thus their husband makes enough money to live on, or B) they’re doing it to make money while being at home with their kids, hence a commercial inspiration, such as product sponsorship.
As for myself, I have the luxury of my husband being able to stay at home with the kids on the days that I work (we have opposite days off) and he’s not a big sharer, because he’s not obsessed with photography like me, and that is perfectly okay. Secondly, I don’t believe in using your kids to make money on Instagram or any other social media platform for that matter. I won’t judge you if you do, but I also believe that if the kids want to make money with their looks then it is their choice, not mine. If my kids ever choose to be a model, then I would be okay with it, as long as they’re not modeling naked.
In the meantime, I do think that it’s our job as parents to be mindful of how our children will perceive us in the future. I want my kids to know that I took the effort to preserve their childhood through pictures, and I’m a big fan of photo books (especially the ones from Artifact Uprising — NOT an ad here! They didn’t pay me to say that!), and I want them to see what our lives were like when they were little, but I also want to keep it mainly in our family. I don’t want them to think that I overshared (“Mom I wish you hadn’t shared that!”) Because the world wide web is what it is — a giant web of information and sharing, who knows where your stuff will end up? Many images are shared across multiple platforms and a lot of times you’d lose credit for it, and it can get altered by whoever gets their hands on the image.
Think about that the next time you share a picture of your baby.