This amazing thing happens on the Internet. You become anonymous. Running a close second behind indoor plumbing, anonymity is one of the greatest luxuries gifted to mankind. The ability to create an identity – a no holds barred super-you. Anxiety? Nope. Social awkwardness? Gone. Worrying about what the mom in the pick-up line thinks? Not a problem on the www. You can take a big step to the left of “Real You” and just let the crazy fly! It’s a whole new, brave world filled with creative possibility and connection. You can write what you want while wearing what you want and, while making jokes you’d never make during kindergarten pick-up. Laughing uproariously while you sit on your crappy, juice stained couch, thinking up your next blog post and grinding that fruit bar ever further into your Lego ridden area rugs. As far as everyone knows, our online selves are kick-ass, red boot wearing, cape donning, baby seal saving spies with abs sculpted personally by Suzanne Somers. Online personas give us the outlet to be our best, superhero selves. We dive boldly into the deep end of the pool. Online, we take snippets of a life and quilt them into a creation of interest.That idea is so intoxicating and appealing because the real me….well, the real me is just not that interesting.
I’m a full-time mom of four young children. I am a mom all day. I make breakfast and then clean it up. I shower and put my wet hair in a bun or ponytail where it stays in varied degrees of disheveled mess for the duration of the day. I make lunch and then clean it up. I change diapers. I wipe rears. I pay library fines…a lot of library fines. I nurse the baby…constantly. Nursing pads make unflattering lumps in my shirt that I acknowledge but ignore. I drive a minivan with windows I have to manually roll down. I help with homework. I fill kiddie pools. I am hounded for snacks every quarter hour. I forget baked goods I’ve promised for school events. I am constantly loading and unloading children from our car and switching laundry from washer to dryer to basket. After sweeping for what seems like eternity, I still step on Cheerios and sticky patches of foreign substances. I constantly have Play-Doh stuck to the bottom of my pants. I drink copious amounts of coffee, yet yawn all day long. I go to grocery stores. I go to parks. I color, read books and snuggle. I make concerted efforts to be patient and still get frustrated. At 5:30 p.m., every day, my brain starts to shut off and the last hour before my husband gets home seems endless. I make dinner and then clean it up. I put toys in bins. I give kisses goodnight and then plop my rear on same juice stained couch, exhausted. Rinse and repeat. This is not to say that I don’t love it. The honor of being a parent is the best damn honor in the world. It is epic in its overwhelming joy and satisfaction and epic in its day-to-day redundancy.
And, while I’m being honest here about virtual versus reality, I have to admit that Real Me gets uncomfortable at parties with new people. Real Me struggles trying to make small talk. Real Me sometimes (often) chokes trying to get a thought from head to mouth. Frankly, Real Me can be a real pain in my ass. Online Me is fun. Online Me is in the moment. Online Me takes chances and gives herself a break. Online Me is an open book. An open, anonymous book where the names and places have been crossed through with Sharpie.
The pull of the safety and anonymity of the online persona is strong. The safety of a real life hiding just behind an idea of who you are or, better yet, who you want to be. No one really knows what is happening inside the recesses of my head except me and me. This is the affair we’re having with our inner self.
The thing that surprises me the most about this journey is that this pseudo-self helps me embrace the real humor, in real moments, in my real life as mom. Moments that I may have glossed over before have become moments I now capture and share with a community; and, in that community, I am finding the bridge between Bad Parenting Moments and Real Me. That bridge is something I think every mom is looking for. A bridge to your kick-ass, anonymous, super hero self. A bridge that connects a healthy piece of escapism to your grounded, real life. A bridge that sweetens the sweet and helps to humorize the sour. The ability to multi-task with multiple personalities and not end up institutionalized. To not end up institutionalized…every mother’s goal!
The next transition will be working on allowing the best parts of real life and the best parts of online life to combine and make me the super human I have always wanted to be, but lacked the courage (or knowledge of quantum physics and chemistry) to pursue. This may mean nothing more than showing up at school at 3:00 p.m. wearing a replica of Wonder Woman’s red boots, but, with my hair still in a bun and the strap of my nursing bra accidentally and partially exposed. Hey, baby steps.
And, when you read our posts and banter with us online, I hope you are picturing BPM like this:
|“Kids, don’t make me use the lasso of truth!”|