Odd mom out

This week I read an article by actress Mayim Bialik about her reasons for not allowing her sons to have smart phones. Actually the article was more about some interesting research by Devorah Heitner, PhD on the child and adolescent perspective of the world, as seen through the lens of technology and social media.

First, let me say this post is not about smart phones or debating how much exposure children should have to technology. Really, there are enough people out there on their soapboxes about that. In my house, at this time, we choose not to let our kids have access to social media or own smart phones because it’s what we think is best for our children. All the other parents in the world must decide what’s right for their children. And that’s all I will say on that topic.

But back to Mayim’s article and Heitner’s research. One of the things that hit me hard in the article was understanding how our children process perceived (or legitimate) exclusion, and how magnified that can be when documented in real-time on social media. Mayim wrote: “[Heitner] gives the example of your 10-year-old watching a slumber party they were excluded from play out on social media. That made me cringe. It gave the 10-year-old inside of me the chills. I would be absolutely devastated to grow up now. I was left out of so much and it was painful enough to imagine the girls I wanted to have accept me spending time without me. To watch it online would be that much more mortifying and so incredibly painful.”

In that moment I, too could remember how it felt for my 10 year old, 13 year old, 18 year old self to feel left-out. How I processed those feelings and their impact to my self-esteem and psyche at that tender age. To think about growing up in this very different, very exposed world? It makes me just want to hug my kids, tuck them under my mama-bird wing and keep them safe and protected forever! That’s right kids, pack your stuff! We’re moving off-the-grid to middle-of-nowhere USA, where I will home school you until you’re 25 and then select a nice husband or wife for you, and you can build a lovely cabin for yourselves right in the back yard!

OK, maybe not.

Of course, I realize sheltering them completely is not feasible or even really healthy. They do need to learn how to stumble and fall, or else they won’t know how to pick themselves up. But then, I remember how much it hurts.

 

One of the great things about getting older is an increased awareness and comfort level with who I am as a person. Which, for the most part, means less concern about how other people perceive me. But somewhere, deep-down inside my almost-40-year-old self is still a 13 year old girl who just wants to be liked and included. And sometimes…sometimes she surfaces.

Like when there is that group of moms that always sits together at the middle school basketball games and never asks you to join them, even though your daughters are best friends. Or there is that woman from the office who walks past you and says hello to your cubicle-mate every day, but never, ever says hello to you. Or those two mutual friends who are always planning girl’s night but never invite you. Or the photos all over Facebook of the party you weren’t invited to, but half your friend-list was. Yeah, those are the moments that 13 year old girl who just wants to belong and be liked comes out and asks: “what’s wrong with me? Why don’t they like me?”

And I admit, even now, sometimes it just plain sucks to feel like the odd-mom out.

Of course I recover much faster these days. I do a better job of reminding myself that exclusion is not always intentional or personal. I can do that, now. I’m almost 40 and I like this version of me. I know who I am and what I have to offer. And I know I have some pretty darn-friggin-fantastic friends who love me.

But my girls? My son? At 10 and 13? I don’t think they’re there yet. So I may continue to protect them just a tad bit longer. I may choose to limit their exposure to social media. I most definitely will continue to tell them Whose they are, and how they have been made in His image. I will do my best to build-up their self-esteem and confidence while I still have some influence. Because one day, no amount of mama-bird protection will keep them from feeling excluded or left-out.

However, if they already know who they are and are happy with that person; if they believe wholeheartedly that their value comes from their Creator and not from their number of “likes”, then maybe it won’t take them almost 40 years to learn they are not the odd-one out.

Luke 12-7

 

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Odd mom out”

  1. And I too am often that 13 year old girl even now – as a Nana and a Mom and an Executive – that 13 year old girl is still inside me!

  2. I guess my not having been a 13 year old girl leaves me unaffected by some of the things you are talking about. I was a 13 year old boy though and they often have some of the same experiences. I was blessed at every stage of my life to be more of a loner than a joiner. So much of the pain of non acceptance went past me with out affecting me. What did affect me I soon got over. All that being said I still see so many people both young, middle aged and older that still struggle with belonging in a certain group or club. I’m sorry but it seems to me they are focusing on the wrong things in life. The only group I wish to be included in is the saved one. As a servant of Yahweh I expect to be left out of this worlds clubs and clicks. I rejoice each time I am separate from this worlds normal way of doing things. To be holy in scripture means being “set Apart” from the ordinary for service to our creator. This would naturally exclude most of what is common to this world. If our children are taught that to be God’s is to be different than the rest of the world they might not see it as a bad thing when the popular click doesn’t want then in their group. Being “set apart” is what we should focus on and not who likes us or what group we can be associated with. Seek Yahweh’s approval according to his Word and this world will not posses the power to make you unhappy. Knowing you are loved, with all of your warts and blemishes both physical and spiritual, by the Father, is the only knowledge we should need to be immune to being left out of any group or click this world can offer. This attitude of course takes a long time to develop to the level where it truly covers our own insecurities as we go through our regular activities each day. But it is the only thing worth seeking and striving for in our conduct and activities as we go through life. I wish I had realized this 50 years ago. I would not have wasted so much energy on useless thoughts and actions, but life is a journey and I’m still learning where the Father wants me to go. He has set me apart for a purpose and is slowly revealing that purpose to me as I am ready. That is what I want to focus on to the exclusion of worry about what the rest of the world is doing or thinking. Really, reasonably speaking that is all I have time and energy for anyway.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s