Picking the *right* profile photo is agonizing enough, thanks

Yesterday, I read a blog post from the good women at Lunapads about an article written by Katie Roiphe called “Get Your Kid Off Your Facebook Page“. Ms Roiphe doesn’t think women should use their Facebook profile picture to show off pictures of their kids because it means that they are hiding behind their children. She then states:

“The choice may seem trivial, but the whole idea behind Facebook is to create a social persona, an image of who you are projected into hundreds of bedrooms and cafes and offices across the country. Why would that image be of someone else, however closely bound they are to your life, genetically and otherwise? The choice seems to constitute a retreat to an older form of identity, to a time when women were called Mrs. John Smith, to a time when fresh scrubbed Vassar girls were losing their minds amidst vacuum cleaners and sandboxes. Which is not to say that I don’t understand the temptation to put a photograph of your beautiful child on Facebook, because I do. After all, it frees you of the burden of looking halfway decent for a picture, and of the whole excruciating business of being yourself.

(emphasis mine)

In the first emphasized sentence, I understand where she’s coming from. If my Facebook page (or any other online profile) is to be my little portal to the rest of the world and completely devoted to me and my life, well, shouldn’t the picture be of me? Or at least have me in it? The second emphasized sentence however, made me angry. It perpetuates the stereotype that mothers of young children are barely functioning, poorly-dressed zombies who can only talk about their children’s achievements. I don’t know a single mother who lives up to this stereotype, and most of the mums I know are first-time mums of babies – prime candidates.

As one of those first-time mums, I can’t speak for more experienced mothers but I am the first to admit that new mums spend a lot of time talking about their babies. I’m sure I’ve overshared with the wrong people, but I do generally try to keep the baby talk to a minimum among people who are not all that interested in it. I get that *my* baby isn’t the biggest thing in *your* life. But when you spend virtually all your time with your child for months on end (I know many women don’t have this luxury and I’m thankful for Canada’s employment laws), well there’s not always a lot else for me to initiate a conversation about. I was shocked at how small my world became when my daughter was first born. I just wasn’t doing much else outside of mothering. And the stuff I *was* doing (napping, doing housework and catching up with what was on TV or going on online) wasn’t usually worth starting a conversation over.  Also, keep in mind that it takes a minimum of two people to have a conversation. You’re welcome to change the subject, or even ask me to tone it down. I would not be offended, and would probably love to talk about something else anyway.

Back to the subject at hand. All of the above reasoning for my less-than-stellar conversation skills can apply to why I’m putting pictures of my kid on my Facebook page (or Flickr, or Twitter, or this website). I’m taking a lot more pictures of her right now than I am of myself. I take most of the pictures in our family and right now, most of the pictures I’m taking are of my daughter. And when I want to show my friends how she is growing and changing, Facebook is an easy tool to do that. My friends check Facebook, but don’t always visit this website or any other social site I frequent.

I agree with Ms Roiphe that you shouldn’t hide behind your children. I don’t think using your Facebook profile photo to show off a cute kid picture is always proof that that is what a mother is doing. I decided a long time ago (before Flora was born) that my Facebook photo would always have me as the main picture. In part because I didn’t want people to think I didn’t exist without my husband, but mostly because I wanted people to know it was *my* profile when they searched my name, especially since I hyphenated it after I got married. Now when I post a new picture, I often use one of Flora and I, not because I’m hiding behind her, but because there just aren’t that many pictures of the two of us together and I want to show them off. Those pictures make me happy, which I think is a great thing to share with my friends, Facebook or otherwise. If someone else wants to show a picture of just their kid alone because it makes them happy, I say go to town.

Naturally this article doesn’t mention the dads putting up pictures of their babies as their profile picture. Because of course, they’re not hiding behind their children, they’re just showing off a cute kid. My husband has used pictures of Flora alone as his profile picture. She was brand new and it was the fastest way to get her picture out to a lot of people. Now he has a picture of the two of them together, and I imagine it’s for the same reason I chose mine – it makes him happy.

Another interesting site somewhat related to this subject is The 30 Standard Facebook Profile Photo Styles. Mr. O’Neill sums up the various styles succintly. One could certainly analyze each of these picture styles to death to find out what each user is hiding, avoiding or showing off. Personally, I think I’ll just say “what a great new picture” and not overthink it too much.

Oh, and by the way, are formal at-home dinner parties really that common in the parents-of-young-children age group? The dinner party seems like such a go-to example to dump on parents and their child-rearing abilities and yet I don’t think I’ve ever been to one. I have people over and we eat, but it’s not the big hairy deal everyone makes it out to be.

Motherhood, so far

At the end of April, I was planning to write several posts about my experiences mothering my daughter over these last eight months. They were going to lead up to some flowery thoughts on Mother’s Day. They were going to be a lovely reminder of what I was doing and how I felt about things going on in Flora’s, Sean’s and my life as a new family.

However, mothering a young baby does not always lend itself to writing thoughtful, poignant, loving tributes to the various facets of motherhood in a timely fashion. There are just so many other things to do, like raise the kid. I’ve been spending my time mothering instead of writing about mothering. This is probably not a bad thing. Even now, as I sit here trying to write something, I feel like I’m going all over the place. There is so much I want to say, and it’s hard to rein in all these big thoughts to tell the story the way I want to.

Growing up, and well into my twenties, I never expected to have kids. If someone had told me at fifteen, or twenty, or even twenty-five, that I would spend my thirtieth birthday sitting on my deck with close friends, nearly 39 weeks pregnant, waiting to find out if I was going to be induced later that week, I would have laughed at them. It’s just not something I ever expected I would do. Yet here we are. (There are several cliches that describe this perfectly, but I’ll leave you to use the one that you prefer.)

Some people like to say that “if I’d known I would love having a child so much, I would have had one sooner”. I don’t feel that way. If I had a baby earlier in my life, I would never have had Flora. I would have had another baby, and while I’m sure he or she would be a wonderful person, he or she wouldn’t be Flora. She has taught me so much already, and I’m not sure that I would have been ready to learn from another baby from another, younger time. I can only hope that I can teach Flora all the things she needs to know to live safely and happily as a citizen of the world. I know we will continue to teach each other for the rest of our lives.

The weekend I first told my parents that Sean and I were expecting, I told my mother that I still wanted to be the same person I was before I had the baby. I still wanted to like dirty jokes, loud music, silly movies, a couple glasses of wine now and again and all the other stuff I enjoyed before the Baby would turn my life upside down. I was terrified that I would lose myself and only be regarded as a Mommy. My mom quickly set me straight and told me that I would still be the same person. She talked me down from more than a few worrisome points, and I am grateful to her for that. The best mothering advice she gave me is that “common sense goes a long way”. And it does.

I knew I would love my baby unconditionally, but I didn’t know how physical that bond would be. At the beginning, Flora would cry and I would leak milk, soaking whatever I was wearing. Watching her nurse filled me with awe and pride that  I could provide my child the sustenance she needed to grow and thrive. It still does, even though I’m not her sole source of food anymore. The amount of time I’ve spent holding her, comforting her, breathing her baby smell in. I never expected to be smelling her so much, whether to enjoy a freshly-bathed baby ready for bed, or to sniff for a dirty bum.

It really is a visceral connection. I know our connection will change as we get older. I just hope that I can remember all these awe-inspiring, life-changing, huge, loving feelings for the rest of my days. And that I can find the right words to describe them to her.

Welcome to Milestone. Population: Flora!

Flora has had an exciting couple of weeks. She’s eating lots of different pureed foods now and we’re introducing more as we see that she’s not reacting to what she’s already eating. She likes most of it, but it usually takes a couple tries of a food before she stops making a WTF face and spitting out half of each bite. She even did that with applesauce (today’s introduction). That surprised me as I thought she’d like the sweetness after carrots and peas. Maybe it was a texture thing.

Messy baby

Not too sure what to thinkDaddy feeds Flora cerealNew highchair

Flora is also getting the hang of sitting up. She can’t pull herself into a sitting position herself yet, but if you sit her up and let go, she can sit for several minutes before she gets tired and tips over. The tipping over is adorable, but being able to sit up will really open up her toy options so I look forward to her being able to do it completely independently.

Sitting up and smiling for the camera

Holy crap! I'm sitting up!GigglingOkay, stop licking me nowDude! No way!

I have to say that six-month old babies are way more fun than newborns. Flora babbles lots and is starting to squawk and squeal, which is always good for a smile. She doesn’t fall asleep instantly in the stroller or wrap anymore – she needs to see what is going on. Girlfriend doesn’t miss a trick.

Anymore of this talk, and I’m going to be laying the “my baby is the best baby ever” stuff on a little too thick. I better stop and just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Six months old!

Flora turned six months old yesterday! Watching a baby grow really lets a person see how quickly time can pass. September feels like a lifetime ago, yet the time has gone so quickly. I think Sean and I have adjusted to parenthood pretty well. We have our little routines and rituals and we all get along most of the time. I think we’re a happy little family. We’ve been lucky that Flora has been an easy baby – no colic, naps well most of the time and gives us lots of smiles. The smiles make me think we’re doing something right.

Speaking of smiles, she is starting to ham it up for the camera now, getting excited and smiling instead of just making WTF faces. I got a few great smiley pictures of her yesterday, where I normally only get one where she is in halfway between smiling and serious. It’s not a toothy grin yet though – Flora doesn’t have any teeth, but she is chewing, drooling and sucking on her hands all the time, so teeth are probably imminent. However, my mum tells me that I didn’t have any teeth until I was over a year old, so Flora’s teeth could take their time too. As long as I don’t discover her tooth by receiving a bite on the boob, I’ll be happy.

Trying to sit up

I’m still breastfeeding, but Flora started on cereal almost two weeks ago. She is slurping it up like a champ, and I plan to start introducing vegetables by the end of next week. I’m amazed – and proud – that breastfeeding went so well for us. She was exclusively breastfed until we started cereal. When I was pregnant, I had hoped to nurse for about six months. Now I plan to do it for as long as I am able and she is interested. I do go back to work in mid-June though, so that may put a kink in my supply. I don’t want to pump at the office. I’m not embarrassed to do it, but I don’t think I’ll be able to take enough time to pump enough milk to make it worth my time. By that point (she’ll be nine months old), she’ll be eating lots of solids and if I can nurse in the morning and at night, I think we can make it work. If I have to supplement with formula during the day, that’s what I’ll do, but I do admit that I will be disappointed – I like her being an all-booby baby. It astounds me that I was able to provide her the nourishment and nutrition she needed to more than double her birth weight in under six months. Now, if she could only stop taking that nourishment and nutrition at 3AM, we’d be all set.

Growing Baby

Flora’s been trying to sit up for a couple weeks now. If we pull her up by her hands and position her, she can hold it on her own for about 5-10 seconds before she tips over. I’m looking forward to when she can finally sit on her own because she’s got some toys that she’d enjoy a lot more sitting up.

She’s very observant and doesn’t miss a trick. She’s starting to get chatty – mostly “ba”, vowel sounds and the occasional “mah, mah MAH!” when she is frustrated. She also continues to blow lots of raspberries and has varied up her technique to include raspberries that sound like either purring or farts. (My kid makes fart jokes already! Awesome!) She’s not quite laughing yet, but she makes noises and smiles at laugh-inducing moments so I think she is really trying.

She’s starting to stay awake when we go out in the stroller so it will be nice when I visit both my and Sean’s offices. The last time I visited, she slept through the entire thing and no one saw her eyes. We’re looking forward to visiting both places when it warms up a bit.

I may be a little biased, but Flora seems to be shaping up into a good kid. I think we’re going to keep her.

I can hear her waking up from her morning nap so I will leave you with a video I made yesterday to commemorate her six-month half-birthday.

Flora is six months old today! from Melissa Price-Mitchell on Vimeo.

Christmas is a whole lot different with a baby around

Personalized First Christmas Ornament from Auntie KylaFlora’s first Christmas went reasonably well. Sean brought Flora and I down to his mum’s on the 17th to spend some pre-Christmas time with her and my parents. He had to go home on the 18th and finish his work week. The extra visiting time was great, but we were very happy to see Sean when he finally got back to his mum’s on the 24th.

As usual, we split our Christmas celebration between Sean’s mum’s and my sister’s place. Christmas Eve must have been hard on Flora because she spent most of the evening crying her little heart out. None of us could figure out what was bugging her, and it made me cry to see her in such distress. It was probably a combination of gas pains and too much stuff going on. Being passed around from person to person for comfort probably didn’t help either. She finally fell asleep and we went back to Sean’s mum’s.

Christmas OutfitChristmas Day was much better. Her Christmas outfit from Grandma Janet was a big hit. Flora liked to chew on the fur trim and ended up getting some gravy on it when Daddy and Grampy Doug were sneaking gravy into her mouth (as sneaky as feeding her at the Christmas dinner table can get). I didn’t think she should be having that gravy, but she seemed to like it, so I guess she’ll like her condiments when the time comes! Grandma Faye gave her a Christmas outfit too. We didn’t get it until Christmas Day, I wondered if I should be changing her outfit halfway through so that both outfits would be worn. We didn’t end up doing that, but I did put the outfit on her on the 27th after we got home. Naturally, every time I tried to take a picture, she got cranky.

Despite everyone telling us that they weren’t going to get Flora much for Christmas (since she’s so little and won’t remember it), she got spoiled with many gifts. I don’t even want to list it out because it’s a little embarrassing (and I don’t want to unintentionally slight someone by forgetting something). Flora is lucky to have so many people who love her. Sean and I got spoiled too. My mom picked up a video camera for Sean and I, which was quite a surprise (she said she got a good deal when she went to the States on Black Friday). We’re still getting the hang of it, but it’s quite a neat little toy. It will be great to use to share video online of Flora doing interesting things.

We came home on Boxing Day, and after over a week away, I was glad to get home. Sean is off until January 2nd, and the three of us have just been hanging out and relaxing. It’s been a great end to a very exciting year.

In my Christmas jammies with Daddy My first ChristmasSmiling with Grandma Janet Looking a little sleepy Christmas sleepers

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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