We recently had an afternoon where the weather cooperated enough for me to take my children to the park.
My eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son were ecstatic. They bounced from the slides to the swings to the monkey bars and back again. I pulled out my phone to quickly snap a few photos.
If this had been 1980, or heck even 2000, that would have been the end of it. But here in 2015, I had work to do. I had to examine the photos I took to see which ones were the most “Instagram worthy.” I applied an appropriate filter (should I use Judo or Ludwig?) and came up with a snappy caption: Just won #MomOfTheYear for this after school trip to the park. #spring #happykids #afterschool
Then I sat back and waited for likes.
I’m happy to be parenting in the age of Google. I feel fortunate that the dentist’s office will text me reminders of my kids’ appointments. I love that I found a cool gluten-free app to help me manage my daughter’s wheat allergy. Skype and Facetime allow my kids to see their grandparents pretty much whenever they want.
On the whole, I think parenting today has got to be easier than it was 50 years ago. But it is also much more complicated.
My mother marvels at how much work goes into parenting nowadays. “Wow” is usually her one-word response to my latest endeavor, whether it’s scouring Pinterest to discover fun ways to teach my son his sight words or getting recommendations from my private Facebook group on whether the new Avengers movie is suitable for kids. “We didn’t do all that back when you were little,” she tells me.
And of course they didn’t. They parented from the baby books, sure, but a lot of us were raised on instinct. You couldn’t Google every little symptom and arrive at the pediatrician as well informed as a first-year med student. You had to trust your gut.
Today’s “Pinterest-parenting,” as I’ve started calling it, can definitely turn into a game of “anything you can do, I can do better.”
Back at the park, I watched my kids play. “Mommy, look!” my son yelled to me. “I can do the monkey bars all the way across!”
When did that happen? I wondered. I decided to put my phone down and jump in the middle of their game of hide and seek. It felt great.
At that moment, I promised myself I will do more “in the moment” parenting. I will trust my gut more before I immediately turn to Google. I will worry less about what my life looks like and more on what it feels like. Who’s with me?