I Have to Hide From My Mom on Social Media

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

I am the only child. Let me start by saying that. My parents divorced when I was very young. I have a faint memory of sitting in the living room with both of my parents and my mom asking me who I wanted to live with, I was probably about 3 or 4, and I said, my dad. Well, I didn’t get what I asked for, so I have always wondered why she even asked me.

My father passed away when I was 15 due to brain cancer. And my mom has been married a total of 3 times. I did find out before I graduated high school that my parents conceived a second child, a boy, but my mother had a miscarriage.

So my entire life, it has been just the two of us. Occasionally people will come in go out of our lives, but it’s US that has been the only consistent thing in each of our lives.

Because I am the only child and my mother is single 85% of the time, she relies on me for a lot, and she also tries hard to stay in tune with what I am doing. One would think, “oh, it’s wonderful that your mom wants to be involved in whatever you are doing,” but to me, it is a little too much when you feel like there are always eyes on you 24/7, and those eyes are your only parent.

I believe this all started when I abruptly moved across the country on a Sunday morning in 2005. I was supposed to meet my mom at church and then head to a sorority meeting, but instead, I got into an argument with my long-distance boyfriend, got in my car and drove from Arizona to North Carolina in four days. My mom did not know where I was at until I called her that Sunday night and told her I was in El Paso. Yup, she was pissed.

But this was the first time in my entire life that I was 100% away from her. The first time when I was not down the street. So she had to learn how to keep up with me daily while being across the country.

It started with AOL Instant Messenger, AIM. She created an AIM account to be able to chat with me all the time. But if you remember the days when AIM was very hip, and everyone had a sidekick, your “status” was one of the only things that kept you connected with the world. Social media advanced yet, but AIM was the hot spot. I would have song lyrics as my away message, or I would put up a quote, something way too inappropriate for your mother. I had to do is create two AIM accounts, one my mom knew about and then the one I used for my social life.

The first major social media platform I was on as an adult was MySpace. Man, those were the days. Soon after I got my page up and running, playing my favorite song in the background and having my top eight picked out ever so carefully, here comes Debbie, my mother, requesting to be my friend. I let her request sit for a few days until I felt the pressure to cave in.

It wasn’t until Facebook let everyone join when this became a game called “hide from Mom online.” She took Facebook, embraced it, and made it her own. My mother is the queen of Facebook and all the hidden tricks that come with it. But instead of using Facebook to interact with me, she used Facebook to stalk me, or that is what it seemed like.

When I left Arizona and moved to North Carolina, about a year later, my mom moved to Bear, Delaware. It was about a 6 1/2 hour drive from my college to her house. That was a reasonable distance, I thought. I figured her social media stalking would cool down; it didn’t. I remember one visit to her beautiful home in Delaware, she had her laptop open, I saw her screen saver, and it was a picture of me. A picture my friend took of me. It was a photo I never sent her, but it was on my Facebook. I said, “how did you get this picture,” she said, “I saved it from your Facebook, I save a lot of pictures from your Facebook.”

At that moment, I knew nothing was safe, and it’s when my hibernating began.

Fast forward to present day.

There is an array of social media platforms. My mom is on all of them. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Pinterest, you name it, she has it. Whatever comes out socially, she is one of the first people to try it.

And I love that about her. She is a social human being. Since she is single, I love that she wants to be socially connected. It helps take the burden off of me being her only child. But again, she is on all of these socials for herself AND me.

There was a time where my mom was overly aggressive watching my Facebook. I had to set up parameters for her and my profile. She only saw certain things, statuses, friends, pictures, etc. I put that in to place back in college when I saw how creepy she gets. She didn’t notice I put up a baby gate around my profile until years, I mean years later.

It was January 2016, and I had just moved from Atlanta to Northern VA to be closer to my paternal grandmother. She is my world. There was a massive snowstorm, and I had a good friend with a heavy-duty truck that picked me up for an impromptu snowstorm party at a local bar. I snapped a picture in front of a mound of snow, and I posted on my Facebook. I didn’t think twice.

Over the years, my mother’s friends have infiltrated my social profiles. I accepted some, but others I’m like “nope I don’t know you.” Well, someone mentioned my snowmageddon picture to my mom. I guess my mom went to her Facebook and noticed she couldn’t see what her friend was referencing. Dammit, I just got caught.

She calls me.

I got a mouthful. My mother argued with me because of Facebook. She told me that I was hiding things from her, and that is not fair because I am her child, and she should be able to see what I am doing and sharing.

I had enough.

I unfriended her after that. I began to think, why is it that every public post I make, there is a follow-up text, comment, or call from my mother. It was overwhelmed and frustrated, and still am to this day. I love that my mom can keep up with the technology and social curve, but damn, it’s a bit much at times.

When I began my blogging and writing journey after every post, my mother would call or text me. She would be sure to remind me that she kept all my writing journals since I was a kid and how she always encouraged me to write.

If she is going to call me about a post, I would much rather receive a “this was so great, or you did a great job” without her having to remind me that she is the reason I am a writer. I began to feel like I had to censor myself, so I don’t hurt her feelings.

A lot of my frustrations in life come from interactions with her. A lot of my drive and determination to have my own and be independent come from her. And sometimes I can’t express the good and the bad in my blog for fear of her getting offensive.

So I hide.

My mom follows me on everything — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and my blog. She doesn’t follow me on Medium, yet, but whenever she does, I am sure I will get a call about this.

I hid her from my stories on Instagram. I stopped using Facebook because I felt like the public-private life I was sharing became her life. I don’t follow her on Twitter, but she follows me on my work Twitter. Occasionally she will respond to a Tweet with a response that a mother gives her 12-year-old daughter.

I have another Twitter account that she is unaware of, and it’s beautiful.

I love my mother with every being in my body. She has provided tremendously as a single mom for the majority of her parenting life. But we are so opposite, and I wish she would understand how I would like to be parented.

If there was a love language test for parents and kids, I take this with her in a heartbeat.

You are probably thinking right now, “why don’t you just talk to her?” Oh, I have tried, and well, that doesn’t go very well most of the time. So I just deal with it the majority of the time. Doesn’t make it right, but I also hate fighting with her because she does not fight fair.

So I hide. I hide parts of me, so I do not have to deal with the overwhelming response from my mom.

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Jemia

Journaling since ’99. Coffee lover, even when it goes cold.