I sure wish I had Facebook when I was a new mom in the early 70s. At the end of one particularly trying summer, I remember wondering whether I was the only mom who felt like a failure. If there had been mom’s groups, I could have friended one and been reassured that I was not a failure and that many moms had feelings like mine.
Nowadays, new moms spend hours on the Internet finding reassurance for whatever problem or feeling they’re having. In her article “A New Mom’s New Best Friend,” Aimee Blanchette describes a new mom’s feelings of isolation when her baby wakes up in the middle of the night.
Feeling isolated and worried that her baby might not be getting enough to eat, Katie Champ reached for her new best friend—an iPhone—to check Facebook. She wonders who else in the world is awake and experiencing the same challenges.
While a new mom’s need for support hasn’t changed much over the years, the places she’s finding it have. If it takes a village to raise a child, then Facebook, Twitter and thousands of mommy blogs proliferating the Web have become the virtual village.
Champ belongs to a private Facebook community, “September Sweet-peas,” made up of 300 women from around the world who all gave birth during the same month. She checks in with her online mommy group daily and has learned more from these moms than from any book. The immediacy of social media provides instant company and a sympathetic response from someone who’s been there and can feel her pain and maybe even offer a few tips.
I found comfort in reading Blanchette’s article knowing that today’s moms may face more challenges but they have a lot more support at their fingertips than my generation.
Another article that reassured my parental self-esteem was Sue McAllister’s “Parenthood Is a Blessing and a Curse.” She sites two studies that explored whether parents are happier than people who don’t have children. One study released last week by a team of researchers from U.C. Riverside, the University of British Columbia and Stanford wrote that parents reported greater satisfaction overall with their lives than non-parents. In contrast, an oft-quoted paper from 2004 showed just the opposite—some mothers find watching television, shopping and preparing food all more enjoyable than taking care of children.
I agree with McAllister’s conclusion that both of these studies are accurate. Parenting can be a mixed bag filled with incredible highs and devastating lows. And parenting adult children who are now parents themselves can be just as tricky. Maybe that’s why they call it “grandparenting”—because the joys and challenges are even grander!