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Parenting Beyond the Grid

By: Bree Koegel | Published: November, 2022

Social media has its advantages: connection, inspiration, entertainment, to be sure. Of course with all that fun comes with the thief of joy: comparison. Parenting by comparison has got to be one of the least joyful exercises in the social media age. I’m here to argue that the internet of things can instead serve as a sort of buffet: a library of sorts. My goal is: instead of the feelings of shame that want to bubble up after consuming an influencer’s video of an impossibly perfect holiday treat recipe set on the backdrop of a spotless, rich, modern AF house, to see an option. That shift could look like, “oh, here’s a free recipe I could try to muster up some version of this weekend if I have time or even with my child.” The freedom is in the details: free, muster, some version of, time… Remember “Pinterest gone wrong?” It was funny for a reason. I’m not meant to replicate these versions of parenting—I’m here to create my own.

To be frank, I envy the social media parent. I love the aesthetics: the matching outfits, the home-made obstacle course; but I also love the confidence. Real-me is terrified to take my toddler Tuck on a plane to a big city for a “just us” trip. Real-me considered bringing the stroller alongside trick-or-treating *just in case* he gets tired. Real-me turns to the same toys, the same snacks, the same shows. But like, why is that so bad?

In the repetition, Tuck and I are able to notice the little things we treasure about our routine. Tuck likes to read a book when he wakes up and when he goes to bed. Spaghetti-O’s are now monster eyeballs, chocolate almond milk is now his morning coffee. The choo-choo train we can hear nearby is now a signal it’s time to get ready for bed. On weekend mornings Tuck snuggles into our bed and watches Mickey Mouse. Our little routine is just that: ours. 

Our routine leaves room for the surprising and the unexpected. On rainy weekends, my husband CJ will dress Tuck in rainboots to splash all around the neighborhood puddles. Occasionally, we’ll visit the local farm and admire the goats, cows, horses, and sheep. These memories serve both Tuck and his parents, and don’t always warrant a story or a post. Do I still scroll? Absolutely. Am I practicing separating how I evaluate my parenting from the internet’s? Every single day. 

Bree Koegel is currently attending UNC to finish her law degree after finishing her government and legal studies from Harvard University Division of Continuing Education. She serves as Miss North Carolina’s Chairperson of Diversity and Inclusion. Bree spent the last 15 years of her career in New York City as a dancer and fitness professional, and has settled with her husband and son in her hometown, Raleigh.  Bree passionately believes that diversity starts at the ground level, and looks forward to loudly working towards a more inclusive future for us all.

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