I did something recently I very rarely do on Facebook. I unfriended someone. Now honestly, I’m not the type of person who normally does this. I can be friends with you if we have different religions, political views, or even ~~shudder~~ if you’re a vegetarian. 😊 But something about this comment just completely rubbed me the wrong way.
I had made a post on my personal page related to a comment Collier had made. We struggle with learning delays and memory issues, and this comment showed that he had been paying attention and remembered a book we had read several months ago. Most of the comments were supportive and cute but then there it was, a comment pointing out that what he said wasn’t 100% accurate and explaining why it was wrong to be so excited about his statement. The comment really stung and was extremely hurtful… because it came from a fellow autism mama.
My first thought was, why would any mama try and lessen an accomplishment another mama was proud of? But as I continued to think about it, my bewilderment turned to aggravation. This was a fellow autism mom for heaven’s sake. She knows what it’s like…..to wait for milestones that are never met, to hear words you could never imagine spoken over your child, to watch as your child is left out, to fight for your child’s place in the world. How could you at best not celebrate with me or, at worst, just simply ignore the post and move on? Why would you ever feel the need to devalue something we are working so hard for?
I’m also VERY aware that what happened to me pales in comparison to what some moms have been subjected to online. From celebrity moms being shamed for wearing make-up to their child’s soccer game to everyday moms getting called out for everything from using baby formula to the length of their kids’ hair. And of course, most all of us who homeschool have had to deflect numerous barbs about our ability to educate our children.
Moms – ALL moms – our job is hard. Especially in the world right now. Our country, or really our whole world, is redefining who we are, and trying to find who we should be. I don’t know about you, but there are times I agonize over seemingly every decision I make. How do I explain everything happening right now? How do I keep him safe and yet still let him experience what’s out there? Am I letting him watch too much TV? Am I pushing him too hard and expecting too much of him? Am I giving him too much sugar or too many carbs? Am I choosing the right therapies to help him succeed? Almost every night as soon as I close his bedroom door, I can think of about a hundred different ways I could have made our day better or been a better teacher and mom.
And I know I’m not alone. Not even close.
So why is it when we know how hard it is, when we know the struggles and the doubts and the worry and the anxiety that we as moms place on ourselves…are we so quick to turn the vitriol on other moms? Does it make us feel better about ourselves? Do we think….well at least I didn’t do (fill in the blank here)? Or…I would never behave in such a way? Or maybe there are times we don’t even realize what we’re doing. Maybe we really think we’re giving helpful advice, not realizing the pain we’re causing in the process.
As I stared at that comment with that tone that I hadn’t taught it just exactly right or that Collier knowing this particular fact just wasn’t that important, I almost entered into that black hole of the internet…The Facebook Debate. I could have fired back with a response justifying why his statement WAS accurate based on the historical setting of the book we read and how the author presented the information blah, blah, blah. But then I thought, why? I know how hard he works and I know what a big deal this was, so why in the world should I have to justify it to someone I haven’t physically seen in years?
Then I realized that not only do I not have to justify his learning to someone else, I don’t even have to allow that negativity to hang around at all. So while I’m willing to debate on tons of topics from which candidate is right to if Popeye’s or Chick-fil-A has the best sandwich, there is one thing not up for debate: my son. If you can’t support him and be happy for our little victories, there is no place for you in my tribe. Period.
We may not be on the same paths and may not be fighting the same battles, but there is no reason we can’t support each other as we journey through life together. Our world needs kindness now more than ever. So let’s be good to each other. Support each other. Love each other.
…..and if not, there’s always the “Unfriend” button.