Until I became a mother almost three years ago, I had no idea about the vast world of social media groups. There are local parenting groups, groups for working moms, groups for breastfeeding moms, even specific groups for parents who love Walt Disney World. These groups can be a great source of support and information, particularly for a new mother who is up in the middle of the night googling what colors of baby poop are normal or why their toddler hates them.
Social media groups offer friendship and support in the most amazing ways possible – especially in the fact that they allow you to build a community of people, friends even, that you might not have the chance to meet otherwise. They also tend to be filled with some predictable characters, each special in their own way. No matter which social media group you belong to, you’re almost guaranteed to encounter one of the following…or who knows, you might just be one yourself!
1. The Black-Market Hustler
This mom is always selling something on her social media groups. Sometimes it’s old baby clothes. Sometimes it’s toys or strollers. She sells her own clothes, her husband’s clothes, her dog’s clothes. She sells furniture, rugs, bottle warmers, and nursing bras. There is always a reason. She missed the return window on that pair of jeans, or got two swings for a baby shower, or just for whatever reason owns five of every baby product known to man. You envision her meeting cargo ships filled with old Mamaroos at the docks somewhere or selling crates of never opened formula out of the trunk of her car. But whatever it is you might need, this girl’s got it.
Why we love her: This is the mom that you can go to for anything – products, gear, clothes, and more. If she doesn’t have it available, then she’ll definitely know where to get it while saving you a bundle in the process.
2. The Wealthy Mom
This mother is so wealthy that she exists on a different realm from the other parents in her social media groups. She posts when she needs recommendations for a full-time night nurse, or a sleep consultant, or a preschool admissions coach. She would love opinions on a family-friendly resort in Gstaad, or what time of year is best for visiting the Seychelles. She is desperate for advice on a decent sailing instructor for her two-year-old. She often sells barely used couches that equal a down payment on a small house.
Why we love her: We may not always be able to relate to her, but boy is she fun to live through vicariously. Even if we can’t necessarily afford the same vacations, we can enjoy her pictures – and who knows, maybe she’ll offer to host the next play group by her pool. We can always hope!
3. The Unrealistic Expectations Mom
Posts to this mom’s social media groups typically come in all caps. You can practically hear her screams of frustration. “WHY ISN’T MY SEVEN-WEEK-OLD SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT?” she asks. Or, “MY EIGHT-MONTH-OLD WILL JUST NOT SIT STILL FOR AN ENTIRE OPERA PERFORMANCE.” As her child gets older, the expectations only get more and more severe. “I AM SO ANNOYED. MY TWO-YEAR-OLD HATES HER CELLO LESSONS.” You might feel sorry for the toddler who unwittingly creates frustration by not counting to ten in Mandarin or playing quietly in his room for an entire afternoon, but you also feel sorry for her…because while her expectations may be off the charts, frustration is something we can all relate to.
Why we love her: This mom gives us a chance to offer encouragement that we might not have even realized we had to give in the midst of our own frustrations. She helps us keep our expectations in check and gives us a chance to offer support to someone who might just need it even more than we do.
4. The Expert
No matter your question, this mother will respond to her social media groups with an answer backed by total conviction. She speaks in absolutes. How to get your kid to sleep through the night? She’s got the answer – any other way and your kid might not sleep through the night until college. How to introduce solids? She SWEARS by a certain technique, and if you just follow her simple guidelines, you’ll save your child from a life of picky eating. What kind of bottle should you use? There is only one brand acceptable in her opinion and that’s it. There is no gray area for the expert. She’s got the kind of confidence that most of us only dream of having.
Why we love her: No matter how many books we read or classes we attend, most of us feel like we’re winging this whole parenting thing. We question ourselves, our babies, our methods, and our own maternal instinct. The Expert inspires us with her confidence. Even if it comes off strong at times, she reminds us that it’s ok to believe in ourselves and trust what we’re doing.
5. The Connector
This mom plays an integral role for all the social media groups to which she belongs. Sally needs a decorator and the connector’s friend, Beth, just happens to be available. Mitzi wants a new babysitter, and the connector has several contacts. She seemingly knows everyone in your city, and she’s always ready and willing to spring into action to put people together. Without her, the group would likely fall apart.
Why we love her: This mom is like social media glue. She keeps everyone in touch and brings the group together in ways most of us are too tired to imagine. She’s a breath of fresh air when we’ve spent seven consecutive days in the house wearing the same spit-up-stained sweatshirt and we just need something to do with someone. Most importantly, she lends a human element to our social media world by creating real-life connections that we all desperately need.
6. The Motivational Speaker
She doesn’t ask for or give advice. She doesn’t really sell or buy anything. The motivational speaker is primarily there to ensure that everyone in her social media groups live their best lives. She posts inspirational quotes and links to articles. She responds to posts with a “you’ve got this girl” or “hang in there” and always uses a lot of exclamation points and emojis. She doesn’t ask for anything in return, she just does her thing with gusto. In short, The Motivational Speaker just wants parents to be there for other parents.
Why we love her: We don’t just love her, we need her. Sometimes, her words of encouragement and inspiration are the only thing that keep us from the parenting ledge. What’s even more special about this mom is that she doesn’t even realize how much she matters, she’s just putting her positive energy out there and giving us a chance to do the same.
7. The Stay-At-Home Dad
He is the primary caretaker for his children. He makes the meals and does school drop-offs. He bakes and crafts…and loves it. He’s always there for his social media groups with advice, support, and tips. He has just as much of an opinion about potty-training as any woman. He has a slew of Crockpot recipes to share and really would love a recommendation on grocery store delivery services. He’s all about breaking down the gender stereotypes and showing the world that dads can do this parenting thing just like moms – and we’re behind him every step of the way.
Why we love him: Not only is he giving his all to his kids (just like the rest of us), but he offers a unique perspective to the group. He helps us to understand our own partners and gives us perspective on what dads are going through at times when we’re caught up in our own “mom brain.” Plus, he’s a cool guy and a great friend. And who doesn’t need more of those in their lives?
8. The Help-Seeking Mom
This mom constantly seeks advice for various service roles in her household. She needs a date night babysitter, a daytime nanny, a housekeeper, a handyman, a personal chef, a trainer, a plumber, an electrician, a plumber who specializes in electrical work, a math tutor for her eight-year-old, a karate coach for her toddler, a masseuse, a Reiki master, a spiritual adviser to determine if she still needs the Reiki master, and of course, a life coach. The Connector plays a big role in this mom’s life.
Why we love her: This mom is critical to our sanity because she reminds us that IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP! It’s easy to get caught up in the need to be a super-parent and feel guilty if we can’t do it all on our own. We compare ourselves to others and wonder how they manage to have a clean house and a clean child all at the same time. This mom helps us remember that we all need help sometimes – and there’s no shame in asking (or paying) for it.
9. The Salesperson
No matter how many times social media groups make the rule that no one can post for their personal business, the salesperson finds a way in. You get invitations for random, online “parties” from this woman. Sometimes it’s for skin care products that will supposedly make you look ten years younger. Other times it’s statement jewelry. Or leggings. Or flame-less candles that smell like cinnamon. The Expert, who obviously has every single bylaw of the group memorized, typically puts a stop to the Salesperson’s shenanigans. But a few weeks later, she’ll pop up again with a new product. She always does.
Why we love her: We may get a little frustrated by the constant sales pitch, but we admire her entrepreneurial spirit all the same. And we may not be able to make every party – or even want to – but she can be a lifesaver in a gift-giving clutch. She saves us from the horror of shopping malls when we need to stock up on holiday gifts and treats. And even if her interactions always seem to have sale-closing speech attached, she offers a chance to try new things, learn about new products, and again, avoid shopping in public with a toddler. (That last one can’t be stressed enough.)
10. The Mid-Nervous Breakdown Mom.
We all know this woman. We have all been this woman. Her baby is teething, or going through a sleep regression, or quite literally pooping all over her house. Her posts often include the words “help” or “desperate” or “why, God, why.” She asks her social media groups for advice in short, static bursts in the middle of the night, usually with a lot of misspelled words and poor grammar. We all know she normally knows how to spell the word “diaper”, but she hasn’t slept in a few days and is seeing double, so we give her a break. Sometimes her posts are barely decipherable or just a series of crying face emojis. The Expert may try to help, but this mom really just needs The Motivational Speaker to tell her everything is going to be okay. And a glass of wine. A really big glass of wine.
Why we love her: We love her for one simple reason – we all ARE her at some point or another. This is the one role we can all relate to because parenting isn’t easy – no matter who you are or what persona you take on in the social media world. This mom is raw and real and isn’t afraid to show it. She speaks our feelings for us and gives us a chance to play roles that we might not otherwise be inclined to play. For her, WE can be The Motivational Speaker, The Expert, or The Connector. But most of all, we can be a friend.
And friendship is what we all need at the end of the day, whether we’re at the park, in the preschool line, or simply sitting at home in the middle of the night leaning into our social media network for much needed love, support, and companionship. After all, it truly does “take a village,” virtual or otherwise. And I know that I, for one, am thankful for mine.