There’s a whole lot of envy dripping across the Internet. The fancy meals on Instagram you’re never going to eat. The cute outfits people pose on Twitter, and Vines of places you’ve never been.
And the eternal stream of baby and child images on Facebook? Some NotMoms zip past them to avoid a pinch of sadness and yearning; other NotMoms Just.Get.Frustrated. (Add Blair Koenig of STFU, Parents to the second list.)
What’s the flip side to how women without children react to their Facebook friends’ kid pix? How do parents react to the stuff we post?
Never crossed your mind, did it? I never thought about it either, until I read the story of Jess and Dave Osinski, a childfree couple living near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Osinskis like to travel, and like everybody else on social media, they post photos from their vacations. Florida. Peru. San Francisco.
In January 2014, the couple received an anonymous typed letter via U.S. Mail. It began:
“It’s a little upsetting seeing, hearing and reading about someone’s vacations all year while we all can’t afford one.”
“Go have some kids and don’t be so selfish as to only think of yourselves all the time.”
Ho-lee crap. I thought it was a couple living their life and sharing it on Facebook. Not my life. Their life. And more power to ’em. At least one other person thought it was a couple bragging about their free time and discretionary income with the intention of pissing off parents. Interesting.
The Milwaukee Sentinel reported that the Osinskis “work hard and get the standard amount of vacation time”. Jess, 36, is a psychotherapist who specializes in helping sexually and physically abused children. Husband Dave, 41, is a benefits consultant.
Infuriated, Jess posted the anonymous letter on her Facebook page and urged its writer to unfriend her. “We clearly are not ‘friends,'” she wrote. Since then, she and Dave have received overwhelmingly positive feedback, including supportive hugs from dozens of parents. The prevailing conclusion on the matter is summed up well by Sentinel writer Jim Stingl: Whoever wrote that letter “is smoldering with jealousy and bitterness. Someone small.”
I would add that it’s someone full of envy and regret for the road not taken.
(Image Credit: That’s me above, quite happy in a Cancun pool. The Osinskis provided the photo at right to the Milwaukee Sentinel.)