Given the title of this post you may think I’m sharing something fun like a makeover or weight loss story [I wish] but given my recent days as a mama, it is most definitely not. I had never really given this much thought as I’ve only been a mom for a little over a year and a half [omg!] but I only really gave it thought when I became guilty of the very thing I am ranting about. The offense: posting the sweet, perfect, cutesy, fun photos of my son instead of the REAL, ugly, tear-filled, nitty gritty moments. The photo:
Aren’t they cute? Doesn’t my son look like a sweet little angel? You are wrong. In my defense, I did mention what happened just a few seconds later in the description below the photo on Facebook. Pre-haircut, Little Man was sweet, charming, curious and quiet. The minute the scissors came out, he turned into a screaming, sweaty, hysterical mess. What was supposed to be a 15 minute appointment turned into a 45 minute scene that ended in Mr. C and I having to hold down our son for a simple haircut. I was practically in tears myself and Little Man was a total mess by the end of it all. It was TRAUMATIC. I’m 90% sure my stylist now hates me and will magically become unavailable when I request an appointment in the future.
You wouldn’t know what went down (without my description) because I posted the photo above. Now, I didn’t exactly take a sweaty screaming photo as my hands were full holding my son’s head in place and telling him that nothing was going to hurt him, but… I probably never would have put a photo like that up any way. Why?
When it comes to parenting, why do we want everything to look perfect?
Why must we put only our best faces forward?
I suppose it’s because everybody is doing it. Because we want our social-network-self to look as good as Susie Cutiepants who never looks tired, overwhelmed or depressed. And because being a mom is tough enough. Because we are already our own worst critics. And it’s not that I want to see posts and pages of hysterical kids and piles of dirty laundry, but I also don’t want to get looks of judgment and annoyance when my son throws a fit because we are going to leave Target before he is ready or because I won’t let him have a sip of my soda when out to dinner. Believe me, that one happens often nowadays.
I wish we could all commit to being a little more real. For the longest time, I felt like the only mom that was a mess. I felt like the only mom that was praying for time in the day(s) to take a short nap. I felt like the only mom who had locked herself in her master bedroom closet to cry every once in a while. But as I open myself up to women in my life, and they in turn do the same, we all start to look a lot a like. We all start to admit to the same burdens, the same fears, the same total and complete exhaustion. And honestly? I kind of love that. I find myself so drawn to other women and moms who can look me in the eye and admit to NOT being perfect. Moms that will show me the “After” instead of the “Before”. Moms who look different than those perfect letterpress Christmas cards we pin on our walls and refrigerators each December. REAL women. REAL moms. REAL life.
I have always had a bit of a love hate relationship with social networking because of things like this. You get to be whomever you want to be online, and I just don’t think that’s a very good thing. Reality becomes blurred and the game of “keeping up with the Jones'” becomes fierce. Though the internet is a vast portal of information and inspiration, it can also be a very dangerous place to dwell. It’s been a fight of mine for a long time. As I’ve pondered all of this in the last few weeks, I’ve decided that I want to be more authentic, online and offline. Sometimes, parenthood stinks, and that’s okay. Sometimes it really IS the greatest joy in the world and you have those Kodak moments that you want to share. But there shouldn’t be anything wrong with sharing both… the beautiful “before’s” and the agonizing “after’s”.