So there’s this silent war right now. I say it’s “silent” simply because it’s personal, and the warring factions don’t want the other to know it’s happening because, again, it’s personal, and feelings would be torn, and other factions would be involved and hurt, and it’s complicated; I can’t have it. I love them all. I shan’t go into the deeper reasons why it’s happening because it would cause more trouble than it’s worth**, and I don’t need the headache…not when, this term, I struggle to teach 94 students every week. Instead, my focus is on the factions’ “surface crazy” and what I observe from them — and others like them, their fellow mamas — online. These mamas I see fall into six categories (with room to grow, of course): Grape Jelly Mamas, A’scared Mamas, TAGgin’ It Mamas, Disaster Mamas, Ready For Close Up Mamas, and Nap Time Mamas.
Grape Jelly Mamas looooooove to take lots and lots of pictures of their little cherub(s), but only when the kid has his or her face smeared all over with whatever sticky-salty-yummy treat he or she has smooshed between those toddler fingers. I totally get it. I do. I mean, it’s soooooo cute…but only because I don’t have to clean any of it up. There’s even a new subgroup online as well, the Shamer Grape Jelly Mamas, who post those sticky faces up on various sites that proudly show off virtual walls of shame, sites with names like TheseAreMyNightmareChildren.com.
A’scared Mamas (also known as Bubble Baby Mamas) are afraid that All The Things out there will kill their children, except for a few Pixar characters. As soon as one A’scared Mama posts an “article” indicating a potential danger — like, oh, I don’t know, formula being vewy toxic for baby — all the other A’scared Mamas come out from hiding, posting even more scawy “sources” that are all but guaranteed to have their children locked away for the rest of their lives, even into adulthood.
TAGgin’ It Mamas have nothing to do with picture tagging at all (unless their precious lambs are in a national competition and there are many photos to prove it) and everything to do with pride. They’re the mamas who have the big bumper stickers proclaiming their child(ren) are geniuses, even prodigies, because, you know, Honor Roll and 4.0. In other words, their kids are so Talented and Gifted (TAG) because the Talented and Gifted program at their school thinks so, and their teachers just can’t even teach them anything because they already know everything and all the rest, fool. The TAGgin’ It Mamas are basically raising little Sheldon Coopers, and what of it? (Funny, I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other day though that proudly proclaimed “My kid’s a C+ student at *Something-Something* Middle School!” I wish I could’ve stopped the traffic just to shake hands with the mama at the wheel. I was a C+ student, too, and look at me now…NOT a Sheldon Cooper.)
Disaster Mamas have emergency kits and supplies stockpiled in their cars, purses, diaper bags, backpacks, and various secret corners of the universe. They are SO prepared for a spill, boo-boo, screaming fit, or any sort of accident involving poo or vomit that one has to admire their evident professionalism, being so always at the ready. I wouldn’t doubt that Disaster Mamas are even prepared for disasters that indirectly involve their children like sudden giant sinkholes forming underneath the house or the slight possibility of a pending zombie apocalypse. Their posts online are often harried in tenor and written in all CAPS because they simply don’t have the time or energy to deal with such stupid details…like proofreading. After all, the child had yet ANOTHER accident all over a birthday party or something.
Ready For Close-Up Mamas are the “neater” variation of the Grape Jelly Mamas simply because their pictures of their lil’ lovely ones must be absolutely perfect (in other words, everyone must be dressed up in their Sunday finest and smiling like future toothpaste commercial actors or car salesmen). Their photos online are often Photoshopped a little, if anything, to eliminate those pesky imperfections that cannot be prevented (e.g., crooked noses/teeth, squinty eyes, grape jelly or vomit stains). RFC-Up (haha) Mamas then plaster the entirety of their feed with the pretty end results to garner rave feedback from their audience online (many of whom secretly hope someone at the very same event tagged the “perfect” kiddos in an embarrassing mishap, often involving bodily functions and gigantic messes). Back during my dreadful days living in Columbus, Mississippi, I worked as a road photographer for Olan Mills, and quite often, I was faced with RFC-Up Mamas who had me break all of the corporate rules involving wastefulness and take so many shots of their “perfect” children. Their kids had to smile naturally but not too naturally. I think I spent more time there trying to get psychotic kids to smile but not smile evilly like Damien from The Omen, which was a tricky feat simply because all the little darlings really wanted to do was destroy the backdrop and props.
Finally, the Nap Time Mamas routinely announce to everyone in their feed that they want time to get some shuteye because their little ones just flat-out refuse to (as Samuel L. Jackson put it so well) “go the fuck to sleep” when they’re supposed to. Instead, the kids pull out all the tricks, all of the delays, from needing something to drink or eat to wondering sweetly what “everyone else is doing” (this was the case of one of my nephews) to hurling thunder at all the adults who are unlucky enough to be in the immediate vicinity.
(To all the mamas out there, honestly, you have more patience than I could ever bear.)
**DISCLAIMER: For my perplexed sistahs, I love you both, and, like you, I simply don’t know what to do about any of it.