Warning: this will be kind of long. I’m not apologizing.
It is 5 am, I’ve had no sleep, and I’ve decided that sharing Bean with the public IS actually anxiety inducing and not something I’m 100% comfortable with. If you’re reading this and wondering if that means you need permission to share her going forward, yes. Yes you do; whether it be from me or her in the future.
I battled with myself and the idea of sharing her my entire pregnancy. How can I teach her consent while sharing nearly every part of her life with strangers? My mind took me in circles and constant loops until finally we settled into the idea that “we” would not share her whole name or her entire birth details, her whole face, or her arrival into this world until it had been a couple days. I was okay with that and everybody else was, too. And then… I was no longer okay with that and it was time to either A: tell people what the new rules were or B: suck it up & power through-because I had a vision in mind. I went with B. I sucked it up and powered through unprovoked online harassment and hacked zoom calls; because I had a vision. I thought my story was bigger than that and that’s not where it was to end, so I kept on.
I swallowed the anxiety that came with her grandmas having Facebook albums dedicated to her and aunties posting her every time they got a new picture of her. I let it be okay- so much so that I even started a blog where SHE was the main focus. I let it be okay! And it was, it really really was… until it wasn’t. I argued with myself and I watched for the way my baby acted around cameras and she seemed ok with them? She started to notice herself in a selfie and SMILE!! She was alright with being on the camera! I was alright too, I thought. I kept doing the mom blogger thing and I was doing it WELL and it was all good; until I realized I was sharing the same pictures everywhere and to everyone. There were no “exclusive” photos to her dad or grandparents or aunts and uncles, no difference between Instagram & Twitter & Facebook. That seemed like a solid plan in my head. How could she be embarrassed or humiliated if only the same pictures are showing across the board? Then I was reminded how evil people on Twitter, especially, are when a “rapper” compared a young black girl to a corpse. I was gutted and triggered; sent back to that time that random white man clowned me, playing a baby shower game, and said something alluding to me eating shit. I was playing a traditional baby shower game. That was enough though; enough for me to stop and rethink everything. How could I put my daughter in harm’s way like that? How could I give someone the opportunity to EVER “drag” her like that? I can’t… so, I didn’t.
I got real cautious about what I posted and said to people. I combed my socials to make sure my baby was “cute”- as if that other child wasn’t. As if “cute” stopped wretched people from being wretched. I started seeing posts about “privacy before consent” and “ask your friends before you post their baby”; things that validated my feelings. Then I wondered if it was divine timing or me just seeing what I wanted to see, what I needed to see, to validate me. Was I really becoming a private person or was I letting social media and strangers get to me? Am I really protecting her or am I projecting onto her? Surely she won’t turn 18, or 10 or 11, and suddenly become embarrassed by all the cute moments I’ve shared of her. Surely her first successful sign language session won’t be a source of embarrassment and anxiety… But what if it is? How will I rectify that and give myself the grace necessary to go forth and heal her?! I’m struggling with all the “what ifs” and since she and I come first, I’m making an executive decision to “hide her from the world”. To wipe her digital footprint clean from here on out. Here’s to giving me peace of mind and her, some privacy and protection. The world is scary enough as is, the internet doesn’t need to be too.
I sincerely regret coming to this decision and feeling these feelings but if you take nothing else from this, take this: be kind to strangers. Watch what you say. Children are off limits, always, and you should be honored to even have access to people’s families in this day and age. Go touch some grass and be merry.