I don’t want to see photos of your kids on Facebook. I don’t want to see photos of them on Instagram or Snapchat either. You know, the ones on the first day of school. Absolutely adorable standing at the bus stop or on your front steps with their brand spanking new backpacks, shiny lunch boxes, just-out-of-the-box sneakers and fresh haircuts.
I don’t want to see the photos of your precious rosy-cheeked babies snuggling with you under a blanket in bed or on your couch all warm and cozy on weekend mornings. Or gorgeous holiday photos with little ones still in their footed pajamas looking at their loot from Santa or lighting candles on the Hanukkah menorah. Or chocolate smudged faces and hands as they “help” you bake cookies. The same goes for pictures of you cradling your newborn baby with all the promise of wonderful beginnings just at your fingertips.
Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. I love mine. And I even love yours, too.
It’s just that mine are all grown up. They are well past boo-boo kisses. Well past the potty training. Well past the cuddling on the couch with cartoons phase. Well past the cute first day of school photos. Well past many of those milestones that we ooh and ahh and sigh over in photographs.
And the truth is, I miss that stage of parenting terribly.
My youngest child graduated college two months ago half-way across the country, and my eldest just finished his second year of law school, thankfully, in our hometown. Their day-to-day lives are happening mostly beyond my eyes and my reach, as they should. But while I am truly happy that they are thriving and doing all the things they’re supposed to be doing, and hitting those milestones that we hope come with their age, it hurts to know those early, exhausting, delicious parenting days are behind me.
Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat (and probably a myriad of other sites that I’m just too old and clearly not cool enough to know about yet) provide a non-stop, 24/7 platform for us to share our most intimate and cherished, and of course heavily, curated moments. A living and breathing photo album that displays what we’re doing right now. For those of us who are older, who already navigated the parenting waters and hopefully safely and successfully made it to the other side, it’s a constant reminder of time gone by.
Sitting at the very edge of the Baby Boom Era, I don’t know much from experience about this new one, of constant sharing and over exposure. When I raised my children, Facebook was innovative and something that existed only for college students. I watched as it slowly trickled down into my son’s high school and then my daughter’s junior high. Snapchat and Instagram didn’t even exist and probably weren’t even yet a spark in some young genius or Ivy Leaguer’s mind. iPhones and texting and cars that don’t run on gas were electronic miracles that only existed in magnificent brains who dreamt of a better future.
Now if I want to see a snapshot of my kids I have to ask for it and hope they send it to me in an email or text. The 20-something faces looking back at me in their photos sometimes make me catch my breath, because in my mind’s eye they’re still my little children. No eye-makeup or facial hair or attitudes (and still thankfully, no tattoos) on the smooth round angelic faces in my dreams.
So please cut me some slack and don’t be quick to judge me if I don’t rush to “Like” your child’s charming dance recital photo on Facebook or “Heart” their hilarious antics captured on Instagram or leave cooing messages in any one of your half-dozen comment threads. I’m doing the best I can while trying to pretend that time isn’t whooshing by a million miles an hour and holding on for dear life.
Remember, it’s just a matter of time before the parenting tables turn and you’ll be the one wistfully looking online (or some other newfangled gadget yet to be created) at other people’s darling children while yours have grown and flown. And by then, hopefully, I’ll have grandchildren. You can bet I’ll be plastering their cute little mugs in all their glory, at all hours of the day, at every stage of childhood, for all eyes to see, over and over and over again.