Today, as my kids have grown into two five-year-old twin daughters and a thirteen-year-old son, parenting is so much more than doing laundry, cooking healthy meals, and promoting compassion and kindness to all. When pink hat-wearing women took over the streets in Washington, D.C., when four Congresswomen had to take a stance against the ridicule of their colleagues, when the core of our humanity was shaken by a divisive election season, parenting my kids became more than speaking up and out against injustices.
In my home, we bring discussions in and around the dinner table to process it all as a family. But I’ve also become more vocal on my social media, like thousands of other moms have done, particularly in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Whether we are yelling at our kids in our own home, or reminding them to turn down the television or to clean up after themselves, our voices matter, what we have to say, as moms, matters — not just for our kids, but for the world to hear.
We cannot be silenced and should not have to go about life in fear of being told to be quiet. But this is what is happening in our communities, specifically in our community on social media. As moms, we have a very long to-do list, especially while also battling a pandemic. For me, participating in conversations with my friends on social media is often the only release I get from my day, from the incessant calls for snacks or breaking up yet another argument over who gets to hold the remote or grabbing one of my kids off of my head during a Zoom call with my boss. We have enough to handle, and handling dumbasses on social media should not be something we need to add to our “to-do” list. But it is. With more than 81% of parents on social media who are moms speaking out on their platform of choice, there’s a whole lotta talking going on, and not all of it is kind or welcome — especially when we are told to stick to parenting-related posts and leave our political and social justice commentary out of it.
Social media is an outlet for many of us as we are holed up in our homes with our kids. But it is also a place for us to express our thoughts and opinions. The beauty of social media is that we hold the power to say what we need to in our posts on our page. Did we sign up for Facebook or Instagram to change people? No, at least I didn’t. I signed up for both because I want to stay connected with family and friends. I want them to see my kids grow up even though we live oceans apart. But I have a story to tell and thoughts to share — and I do that on my social media too.
There are many of us on social media not only looking for support but also looking for like-minded people to share those thoughts with. The Pew Research Center found, “75% of whom use social media – turn to social media for parenting-related information and social support.” But if we want to participate in healing the America we love, we must also shut down the rhetoric that speaking up about social justice issues and educating one another on social media — about ways we can all help make America a place we can all safely call home — should be left to news and political websites.
Some people believe the lane moms should stay in on social media is that of someone who posts cute or funny photos of her kids and asks parenting questions of her friends, instead of supporting the LGBTQ community, or reminding strangers that Black lives matter. But that should not be something parents are bullied for doing. Social media can be a great place to zone out for parents, but it can also be a platform to talk about the topics that impact our families, and that’s not just potty training and developmental milestones.
Since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I wanted to birth a baby into this world, grow a bond from day one of conception and on through adulthood. I wanted to travel the twists and turns of motherhood, the ones we always hear about: the late-night feedings, the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the mashing up of bananas and avocados for baby’s first foods, I wanted it all. And then I became a mom, and while most of the beginning was exactly like this, what I feel like I am doing as my kids grow is trying to keep us all afloat in the vastness of our social and political shit show. Because I’ve realized that while parenting topics are important to parents, political topics have to be too. Because parenting is political. The opinions we have, the social justice we fight for, the issues we vote on, shape the world our kids are living in now and the one they will inherit as adults.
As parents, we have an obligation to our kids to not only teach them about the issues with our world but empower them to help change that. Maybe, at least for right now, the best way we can do that is to continue to stand up for marginalized groups, even on social media, even when others try to silence us by telling us to “stick to the parenting topics.”
It is one of the greatest lessons we can teach our kids to speak out against injustices even when people speak out against you.