Why I Quit Facebook (For Now)

February 29 was a pretty ordinary day, considering it’s the one extra day we get every four years. I’d see an occasional post on Facebook that said, “What will you do with your extra day?” But those were mostly from people like my dear retired father, and I would think, oh I will just continue working and stuff.

 

It was a wonky day at work, one we dubbed “first Monday.” Super Tuesday was the next day, so we didn’t have students the next day. Essentially, it was a Friday and a Monday for kids, and virtually impossible to get anything done that represented teaching. They were off the chain, and I left there with a tear or two brooding behind my eyeballs.

 

I ran to Sam’s to pick up a few baby essentials, like formula and diapers because that sweet baby of mine continued to love eating and digesting, and before I knew it, it was 5:00, so it was on to pick her up. I don’t care what I’m doing, if it’s 5:00 it is for sure time to pick up my little. More than that, it was Monday which means B drops her off super early.

 

Sigh. Even this beautiful season in our life is just so cray.

 

When I arrived at her daycare (or “school” as we call it to her) she was in the hall with her favorite former teacher, and I joked and said, “Oh no, are you in trouble?” but when my baby saw me, she straight up acted like she didn’t know me. And then, when I went to physically pick her up, she all but refused.

 

Let’s take a little time out a la Zack Morris, and let me just say how incredibly fortunate I feel that my little miss is loved so well. It’s simply wondrous/amazing/appreciated that so many people in her life fight over who loves her the most/who she loves the most. It’s just the bees’ knees.

 

Unpause. I know all this, but when I left the parking lot after finally prying her away, being shunned by a ten-month-old, I cried. I was embarrassed. I resented everything in my current lot: the ungrateful students, the atrocities of having to work in the first place, the realization that I’d have to return to work in 12ish hours, B’s busy schedule. Is it even worth it?

 

I think sometimes it’s easier to blame our surroundings above ourselves. I am admittedly too hard on myself far too much, but I really pondered this, and thought back to the near past with Novella. We’d just come off of a weekend together, yet I don’t know that I truly spent the time with her that I should have. I did a lot of laundry and cleaning while she crawled and followed me. When her crawling around and attempting what felt like a lot of brushes with death, we eventually resorted to her room, an embassy in our little broke down palace.

 

But, when we rested in her little room, I retreated to the most awesome chair in her room, playing on my electronic device while she played. I checked my Facebook no less than 20 times while she frolicked and begged for my attention. I’d occasionally look up, give her a half-ass reassuring nod. That’s how I inadvertently treated this sweet little girl that I prayed for a solid decade.

 

Novella is/was a Facebook baby. For years, I shared our gut-wrenching story of infertility and adoption loss via Facebook. When I saw the most shocking plus sign in all of the world, I immediately thought of all the ways I could tell Facebook, and had a photo shoot specifically for Facebook. I vividly remember my heart racing, sitting in Starbucks and posting those pictures shortly following our 13-week appointment. I had a checklist of people to tell individually before I could socially medially say “It’s a girl!” Even after a 32 hour, mostly (but unintentionally, epidurals don’t work for all) drug-free labor, I asked B to take one picture before I hit the hay, and updated my virtual friends to announce her unrushed arrival.

 

Shortly before I took maternity leave, I had a fascinating and eye-opening conversation with my students about social media and how they felt violated by their parents throughout their lives via social media. I think about my middle sister, and how much she absolutely abhors one specific picture of herself, and would promptly remove it from our family Christmas tree as if anyone ever visited our house, yet my students had countless of those types of pictures and everyone saw them and could reference them without any personal consent.

 

So, back to Leap Year. Something just clicked with me- and I couldn’t help but notice: the reason my daughter prefers everyone to me is because I prefer everyone to her too. I didn’t mean to, but seriously…why was I wasting so much time, investing and engaging in conversations that truly bore no significance on my actual life?

 

We would be in a sweet moment, and I would think I need to take a picture, so I can tell Facebook about this.

 

We would be in a difficult moment, and I would think I can’t wait for this to pass, so I can make a witty joke on Facebook about this.

 

And worst of all, I would take pictures and hold the button down for a photo burst, not so I could remember every little nuance in her sweet face, but because I wanted to get the best angle. For Facebook.

 

I’ve learned the danger in absolutes. It’s not that I will never get on the book again, but I see (channeling my inner Joni Mitchell) my life from both sides now. And I believe that once you know better, you do better. Or at least, you should.

 

After the jump: What I’ve learned so far without Facebook.

Deciding Who to Be

This past weekend, my sisters and I helped my parents clean out a lot of memories that we admittedly should have taken from their house years ago. It’s amazing how a cardboard box or two can remind you of, not only who you once were, but who you still are. There were so many memories, that I eventually had to resort to “I’ll look through this later.” This usually translates to, “I will bury this somewhere and look at it when we move again and are bored without internet.” But, this time my heart really desired the trip down memory lane. Maybe it’s all of the changes in my life; perhaps it’s the striking resemblance in my childhood photos to my dear daughter, Novella.

 

So, when I got home and settled Sunday night, I was quite eager to show Brandon my treasures, and so we laid out all of my childhood memories and delighted in all that once was. There were so many things I would’ve never remembered if it weren’t for all of those papers, pictures, and random assortment of items. Change is so gradual, that 30ish years in retrospect can jar you, tickle you, and sadden you all at once.

 

One of the sweetest moments was when we found a report card from my brief attendance of Poplar Springs Elementary in third grade. In the comments, Mrs. Leitchfield (ironically, the name of my parents’ hometown) wrote, “It has been a pleasure to know Amelia in this brief time. She is a very smart and sweet young lady.” Brandon read it, and said, “Well, you haven’t changed much from that.”

 

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Nothing is truer when it comes to teachers, and I’ve tried my darndest to implement that in my own legacy as a teacher. Mrs. Leitchfield made me feel special from the moment I walked into her room as a terrified transplant into the deep south, approaching the end of the school year. She made me the “Proud Panda” of her class for the whole month of April, and I got to have ice cream with the principal and everything!

But, there were a lot of teachers that didn’t quite give me the warm and fuzzies, and I often wonder how much of my insecurities I owe to them. Mrs. Hazle in second grade evoked a fear and self doubt that I am certain did not exist before. She called me a brat, a day dreamer, a cry baby, and worst of all- annoying.

I wonder why it took a report card with it there in black and white to remember Mrs. Leitchfield’s words, and rote memory to remember Mrs. Hazle’s.

All of my life people have told me that I am smart and kind, and I hardly believe them. More than that, I take the latter as an insult. To be fair, it is usually offered to me as a means to excuse another behavior, i.e. “Well, you’re just nicer than I am.”

But I’ve been thinking a lot about how often we assign labels to ourselves and from where their roots of origin ever stem. And when do we decide to make that our official narrative?

When I found out that I was pregnant, it was the shock of the century. We’d been trying for ten years, and had been told by five different doctors that it would never happen. During that ten year wait, I heard a lot of comments about what kind of parent I would be. Some were loving and kind, some were plain rude and inaccurate. I heard from some that I would be a hot mess of a mom, although those words weren’t really used. There’s a huge, and I mean hee-uge misconception that I would lie around with my feet propped up while my sweet husband handled all the dirty diapers.

 

But, I decided to not let that be my narrative.

 

Maybe it’s a fire within me that vastly wanted to prove others wrong, or maybe it’s just plain necessity, but I decided who I wanted to be as a parent, and I roll with that 90% of the time. I have exactly two mottos in parenting: (Excuse the language but there’s no other way to say it and show I mean it)

 

Handle your shit.

 

And

 

Do not hesitate because of fear.

 

Toot! Toot! I am super proud of myself for sticking to these principles more often than not in parenting, a whopping ten months in…but that’s not really my point. I have days where I tee-totally a hot mess. If I catch myself wrapped up in that storyline, I  try to get out of it quickly.

 

I have stopped giving so much value to what other people say, especially the negative. It has taken me a long, long time to get here. Like, since second grade. But I just have to. If I don’t, I seriously worry what impression I will leave on my daughter. Instead, I’ve learned to examine words, and look at the facts and say, “Why did they say this?” And if there’s a behavior that needs to be changed, then I try to change it if needed.

 

But, mostly, I just think about what kind of person I want to be, and then I go and be that. Sometimes I fail miserably. Sometimes I am awkward. OK, all of the time I am awkward. That I fear I cannot change, but even in that I have decided that awkwardness stems from a lack of confidence I’ve developed since relocating to a new city three years ago. So, I’m making a commitment to myself to branch out more- try new things. Think about moving up the career ladder. Doing a few things that terrify me due to fear of failure (Helloooooo, gardening!)

 

A blogger I read writes down some goals for everyone to see, and then reviews them a month later. I like this idea a lot, but in the interest of full transparency, I will go ahead and admit that I currently have a poor track record in maintaining an open line of communication via blogging. Ugh. Now I think I am going to have to change that since I said it. Oh well. Here are some things that I would like to accomplish in the month of March:

 

  • Stay off of Facebook for the entire month. Commitment: I will write about this and explain later.
  • Get all invites sent out for my Novella’s birthday party.
  • Read 2 books
  • Start my garden
  • Address some health issues I am having (seriously, how long can we call things “Post Partum Hormones,” and when should we switch to “Girrrrrl, your body is jacked up!”)
  • Upon receiving my life planner, I want to map out things better and just bring more of a flow to my life.
  • At least FOUR blog posts/ essays.
  • Plan through the rest of the school year.

 

Looks like I better get to work! What are your goals for the month?