When my son sees me organizing his room, he turns into a kid from "Hoarders: The Toddler Edition." If a single sticker is removed from its place on the floor, he becomes the most unreasonable of people. That’s when stern warnings are issued, and shrewd bargaining begins – orchestrated by my three-year-old. Really, it’s not like I’m taking the crayons out of his hand while he’s still coloring. (Well, not since that one time.) However, my organizational anxiety is not my own. What if I miss an Instragram-worthy moment because the house is a mess? What will the Facebooks think? I’m driving my kid crazy.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat*, Instachat, and Facegram all make me break out in a cold sweat. (*Full disclosure: I have no idea what Snapchat is, and I’m not sure there really is anything called Instachat but there should be so I can feel even less hip and worry that my three-year-old will want to call his four-year-old girlfriend on it.) All of these social media outlets allow me to see into everyone’s perfect lives, and thus see how imperfect my own is. I know that it’s only a matter of time before Mark Zuckerberg personally deletes my eyesore of an account. So, that’s why lately I’ve been trying to step it up and be more organized.
I certainly don’t want my son to feel like I’m a helicopter mom who can’t wait for him to stop playing so I can clean, but I’m a helicopter mom who can’t wait for him to stop playing so I can clean. I can wait until he’s distracted, like when he’s trying to scale the flat screen TV. That’s when I seize my moment and his Crayolas. “Mom! Stop cleaning!” I’m caught red-handed – yes, there was a red crayon in my hand.
My kid is onto me, and for some bizarre reason he doesn’t care what kind of picture I tweet. I’ve tried to get him on board with my new cleaning program, but there aren’t enough cheese crackers in the land to make this a viable bribable option. So, while he moves on to another toy, I’ve started trying to clean up the Legos he was just using. He just spent a whole 5.7 seconds throwing all of them out of their box and shouting, “RAIN!!” Now, however, he has quickly moved on to Sticker Dumping, making it look like Rainbow Bright has thrown up all over his bedroom floor. So, he will never notice if I start cleaning up. Even if he does notice, he will certainly appreciate my cleanliness. (Because that’s what three-year-olds appreciate.) “Mom! Stop cleaning!” I’m a mere click away from Mark Z. blocking me.
Chrissy Teigen tells me that I can have it all. So, what’s wrong with wanting what everyone else seems to have: a pristine house while raising a messy toddler. I want to live in a world of white couches with no cheese cracker hand prints. I know this is a realistic goal. I saw a picture on Instagram. Why can’t I get it together?
While my new cunning plan has not been so cunning, my old plan was not working at all. And by not working I mean that unless the kid’s Pac-n-Play came with a Pac-n-Put-Away function, the straightening was not going to happen. When I walk past my kid’s messy room, I just keep on walking. I think to myself, “I can do it later.” By the time later comes along, I’m always sound asleep dreaming of which Instagram filter will best give the illusion of a perfect home – Amaro or X-Pro-II. (Thank goodness my husband is doing our laundry and our Border Collie has learned to fold clothes.) I don’t know that I will ever be Instagram-worthy.
Clearly, these real “slice of life” pictures are real, and my real life is just a real mess. We are over here tripping over Lego blocks, and other more perfect people are smiling happily on clean cream-colored carpets with their toddlers. Social media is showing me the definitive version of who I’m supposed to be, and I feel that insecure part of me wondering again if I’m doing this whole mother thing right. Then I remember that this is the same insecure part that talked me into going braless during the summer of ’98. That was the rainiest summer on record, so I don’t listen to her anymore. (Thank goodness there was no social media then.) So, maybe I don’t need to be Instagram-worthy. Maybe I just need to be kid-worthy.
Instead of listening to The Facebooks, I think I’m might take some of my three-year-old’s advice. No, not the advice that this is a “no pants zone,” but the advice that starts with “Mom! Stop cleaning!” Maybe I should let him make a mess while he still enjoys it. After all, I can always organize it later, after I check his Instachat history and block Mark Zuckerberg from my Timeline.