There's always one.
During back-to-school season — as the social media feeds of people in their childbearing years start to fill up with photos of grinning kids wearing backpacks and holding signs that say "Grade 2!" or "first day of preschool!" — inevitably, there is also someone complaining about this childhood milestone's hostile takeover of their newsfeed.
Maybe it's as simple as an eye-roll emoji. Perhaps it's a matter-of-fact "My newsfeed has been taken over by photos of children" status update, barely visible among all the photos of children. Maybe there's even an entire string of haters on Twitter posting about how ugly people's kids are (this really exists, if you're wondering whether monsters walk among us).
Whatever the medium, the message is clear: posting photos of our children — especially en masse, which is what happens during back to school — is annoying to some people.
As annoying as your repeated invitations to play FarmVille, cryptic status updates, political rants, sad song lyrics with absolutely no context, and outfit of the day/smoothie of the day/butt day/leg day/arm day photos? That has not yet been scientifically proven.
Regardless, most parents are unlikely to post status updates or tweet about how uninspired we find your brunch photos. We're too busy writing our child's likes and dislikes on Etsy-purchased chalkboards and sourcing hay bales for the next photo shoot.
As someone who once did not have children, and now does, I can sympathize with where some of these these "ugh, child photos" people might be coming from. There was a time when I, too, rolled my eyes at the seemingly endless stream of baby pics suddenly inundating my social media. Where entertaining photos of rowdy nights out and intellectual conversations about the latest trending think-pieces once thrived, suddenly only "LOOK AT BABY EMMA SITTING ON THE POTTY LIKE A BIG GIRL" statuses remained.
I often scrolled right past these posts, or gave the occasional obligatory "like" to the offspring of my closest friends, before moving on to more pressing social media conversations about the newest episode of "Grey's Anatomy" or WTF Lady Gaga was wearing.
I swore I wouldn't become one of those people who only posts about their kids.
When I became pregnant, I swore I wouldn't become one of those people who only posts about their kids. Certainly, I would maintain my other interests. I'd still travel (babies are nothing if not portable, right?), eat in trendy restaurants (isn't that why babysitters exist?), and remain well-read and up-to-date on the latest world news (preferably political, but I'd settle for in-depth knowledge about pop culture).
Then my son was born, and three months later Donald Trump won the U.S. election, and as my newsfeed filled with posts of shock and despair during a marathon 2 a.m. breastfeeding session, I went "WHAT?? DONALD TRUMP QUIT 'THE APPRENTICE'??! THERE WAS AN ELECTION? WHAT DAY IS IT? What year is it?"
I'd been so busy keeping a tiny, needy human alive that I barely knew my ass from my elbow (except only one of those body parts had stitches in it), let alone managed to stay on top of current events. As for maintaining my interests, they all fell to the wayside as I focused on a new, fun hobby: being constantly terrified that my child would die in his sleep, or choke to death, or fall down the stairs, or get a sunburn, or get a bee sting, or a paper cut, or feel even a fleeting moment of sadness (all leading, inevitably, to death).
And as each day passed and my child was still living (and somehow growing even more adorable), I posted more and more photos to celebrate that achievement. Look at my child rolling over/smiling/eating solids/crawling/walking/talking/SITTING ON THE POTTY LIKE A BIG BOY! He's alive! He's doing the things he's supposed to do! I haven't ruined him! I made this! I did this! GO BABY! GO MEEEE!
My child is two years old now, and I still really have nothing else going on that's worth posting about. I don't go to night markets or art shows, because finding someone to babysit is a hassle and I'm so exhausted after a day of work and parenting a toddler that I can barely find the energy to change from my yoga pants to my PJ pants.
I haven't climbed Machu Picchu, or been wine-tasting in Tuscany, or sojourned the El Camino de Santiago, but I did take my child to Funhaven once (and posted a photo series of him crawling through the ball pit that was quite adorable, IMHO).
I don't post jogging updates because exercise still makes me pee my pants a little bit (thank you, childbirth), and I'd rather use my precious "me time" to inhale ice cream bars, order new towels on Amazon, and take at least 48 hours to respond to texts from my friends. None of this is Insta-worthy.
I do still occasionally post photos of my brunch. I eat, after all, it's just exclusively at the one restaurant in town with a kiddy slide and playhouse on the patio. You're welcome, by the way, for the artistic photos of deep-fried chicken fingers as my child waves through the playhouse window in the background.
Now that I have a child, I'm immensely (some might say... obsessively?) proud of, I make a concerted effort to "like" every milestone post, every cute video and, yes, every staged first-day-of-school photo in my own newsfeed. It's not hard. I am genuinely happy for my friends that their kids are rolling over/smiling/eating solids/crawling/walking/talking/sitting on the potty/starting Grade 2.
Us parents will be posting photos whether you like them or not.
These seemingly mundane accomplishments are as worthy of social media pride and praise as someone else's new job, new shoes, Alaskan cruise, political opinions or 30-day detox results.
Plus, in a world of unrealistic and arguably unhealthy social media posts from some mom influencers and celebrities (I know you didn't get your twins dressed in designer matching outfits, that vegan curry on the table, and that Pinterest-worthy playroom looking so spotless without some kind of behind-the-scenes help, but I still feel like garbage in comparison, BlessedMom87!), these simple "look at my baby with his new backpack!" pics are refreshingly honest.
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And for those of you who still hate those back-to-school photos, I have bad news: this is just the beginning. Next will be the official school photos, then pumpkin patch and apple-picking photos, then Halloween costumes, inevitably a child will lose their first tooth sometime this fall, and before you know it — BAM! — family Christmas card photos will be coming in hot.
Us parents will be posting photos whether you like them or not. Please do "like" them. We went to all the effort of getting those matching holiday sweaters.
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