So here it is, yet another post about the Elf on The Shelf for your Facebook feed. I have read a lot of these blogs and articles advocating how the Elf brings a smile to their kids faces or about how the Elf is super creepy. (Personally I go with super creepy but that is probably because my #1 nightmare as a child was about my dolls coming to life to move around the house when I slept.) What bothers me is not that people are voicing their sometimes very hilarious takes on the whole Elf thing, but that in the comments sections Moms are waging war on each other.
Over an eff-ing Elf. Seriously people, let’s take it down a notch. Move a little Elf around your house and tell the kids it spies on them and Pintrest it every day in excotic locales and/or hilariously ironic settings. Or don’t. I really don’t care. I certainly don’t think it reflects poorly on your parenting one way or another. It’s just a holiday tradition. I don’t get up in arms about what kind of Cranberry sauce you use on Thanksgiving (BTW the proper answer is none, it’s disgusting) or what kind of Halloween candy you give out (but seriously Dots lady, those thing are like gobs of Kool-Aid flavored cement) so why are we so defensive about our position vis a vis Elfgate?
It’s just another way to get all up in each other’s grills, because that is a lot easier than doing something productive. And I get it, I am a stay at home mom, so I often feel the need for righteous vindication. I stopped breast-feeding and supplemented with formula because of health reasons. My babies never slept in my room because every noise they made woke me up in a panic, I learned that with the monitor on the lowest setting I could hear if they really cried but not every whimper and that is what I used. And we did a modified cry-it-out thing because I am terrible at instituting a pre-planned course of action that involves hours of baby crying, but we desperately needed the twins to sleep. I sort of wore my kids but only because it meant I might have one hand free. I give them every single vaccination that my pediatrician recommends and if they are sick they get Tylenol or antibiotics. I am firmly anti-spanking but also at a total loss right now because time-outs seem to be nothing but a joke to my littles. I made my own organic baby food for about a day and then gave up and moved to those packet thingies. I have spent many nights away from the loves of my life both because I had to (like when I was in the hospital) and because I wanted to (because getting a break makes me a better mom.)
I have made a lot of decisions that other moms might not agree with, and it feels incredibly personal when someone attacks the way you raise your children. So personal that it sometimes makes you want to leave a nasty comment on that someone’s shared article because you just had an XL glass of wine and a really hard day and how dare they flaunt their obviously wrong choices in your Facebook feed! Because being a stay at home mom means that a huge part of my identity is tied up in the parenting and lifestyle choices I make for my kiddos. And I personally have a deep seated insecurity that I am probably screwing my children up in a million small ways that they will one day work out in very expensive therapy.
I am just trying to figure this parenting thing out as I go, and every new study, or article, or child development book floods me with anxiety that maybe I have been doing this all wrong and these precious creatures that I have been entrusted to care for are going to be the worse for it. And then I try and take a deep breath (and maybe a Xanax) and realize that I know deep in my heart that my way may not be the “best” but it is the best I can do for my family given our circumstances.
So this holiday season, I would like to challenge us all to just be a little kinder to each other in social media where the easy thing is to only speak up when you are angry. Maybe do a little something I like to call Anti-Trolling. Instead of finding those threads that infuriate you and sparking up a rousing debate that is going to change no-one’s mind and will probably leave everyone feeling like crap. Let’s take that energy and instead use it to give some loving words of encouragement to something a person took the time and energy to write, or sing, or make into a video. It’s kind of a new hobby of mine. In fact a few of my consistent blog readers/bloggy friends are complete strangers who I Anti-Trolled because I read something of theirs that sparked a desire in me to compliment them or just send a little kindness their way. Give it a try, I promise there is a lot less remorse to drunk commenting to someone, “You are the greatest, I loooove your writing, I think you are super awesome and I want to be best friends and watch Mean Girls together,” than to actually being mean!