The IPO has passed, Mark Zuckerberg has changed his relationship status to “married,” and the magazines with his image emblazoned on their covers sit in the recycling bin. May was a big month for Facebook but now June is upon us. After the “oohs,” “ahs” and “ehs,” I got to thinking about how much Facebook has affected and even changed my life, mostly for the better (unless you are my editor at New York Family and trying to get me to complete a posting on a deadline–it just doesn’t feel like procrastinating when I am catching up with friends and family).
I was given both a laptop and an invitation to join Facebook serendipitously just a few weeks after my second child was born five years ago. I was spending a lot of time in bed nursing or pumping (I am a breast milk hoarder–don’t ask), often with my older daughter playing next to me so I couldn’t watch trashy television or read gossip magazines as I did the first time I was nursing. It was easy and wonderful to spend a few minutes catching up with old friends and faraway family; plus, little Sloane loved looking at the pictures. Early motherhood can be a confining and isolating time but Facebook opened up the world on the days when I couldn’t or wouldn’t get out of the house and my PJs.
My children grew as the number of my Facebook friends grew–friends joined from every corner of the earth and from every phase of my life. Many of us were growing our families at the same time and we “liked” hospital pictures of gooey-eyed newborns and babies from New Zealand to Israel staring off in to the void in the same bouncy seat. New friendships progressed more quickly as I learned more about people from daily online interaction and check-ins.
My mothering mantras are “laugh now because this will be funny eventually” and “it takes a village.” Facebook provides a forum for shared laughter, shared stories, advice and support. It is a virtual village that spans the globe. My beloved nanny tells me that all she had to do to get help in her village in Trinidad was call out the window and a dozen people would come running. A crying baby would bring a friendly neighbor to the door, “What is going on with that child?” Facebook is the virtual windows and doors we use to call to and call on friends down the block or across the ocean.
Facebook is there at 3am when the child who has woken from a nightmare is settled back to sleep but the screams of “Mama help me!” are still echoing in a mother’s head. I have used Facebook quorums to decide on everything from sleep training to car seats to family vacations. The quick 5pm post of “Is it bedtime yet?” with 23 likes and 8 commiserating replies makes the arsenic hours of dinner and bath a little sweeter.
Unlike urbanbaby.com and its ilk, it can also be a welcome respite from parenting concerns. My 91-year-old grandfather shares political articles with me while the kids I babysat for give me a glimpse in to the fun they are having in their teens and 20s. Facebook is cheaper than my other favorite online pastime (shopping) and healthier than my other favorite thing to do when I am bored (eating). Successful IPO or not, cultural phenomenon on the wane, ultimate time-sucker…however you see Facebook, I am happy I have the opportunity to see you (and your vacation/graduation/Bat Mitzvah/wedding/baby pictures) on it. Yes, YOU…Weren’t you in my geography class in middle school?
Lani Serota is the mother of two young girls, besotted wife, sleep aficionado (both her own and that of children), and celebrity child name enthusiast who loves a good giggle. When she is not working at one of her three jobs, taking advantage of everything New York City has to offer, or procrastinating, she loves to write.