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Sunday, January 31, 2016

pretty pictures don't mean a perfect life

A few weeks ago I was talking to a few moms about how it had been hard that week with our kids' behaviors, getting them to sleep, sickness, and sassiness. I mentioned how I'd yelled the day before and it was frustrating because nobody was listening to me at all. One mom said to me, "Oh that's so great to hear that you have bad days, because from your pictures your posts it looks like everything's perfect for you, like you're always happy." I rolled with the punches and said simply, "HELL NO, not always perfect for me, in fact I struggle a lot with finding patience and having tolerance for kids who don't listen. I'm exhausted."

But this got me thinking. I've heard it time and again.

So I feel compelled to tell you today: NO I'm NOT perfect. By any means. Not in any area of my life. Ever. Never have been, never tried to be. I don't believe in perfect actually. In fact, as a school counselor at work I tell my kids it doesn't exist, this idea of being perfect. I don't know why mothers in particular feel like it does exist or like some other mothers have somehow achieved it. I certainly have not, despite what you see.

So why do you think my life is perfect?
Because you see my happy pictures. And I post TONS, if you follow me on Facebook or Insta, you know I'm on all the time with happy pictures of places we've gone, things we're doing, and cute smiles from my adorable kids.

Another mom posted on her account recently to the world: "Just live your happy life, don't have to prove to the rest of us that you're happy with all your pictures, stop bragging, just be happy."

It made me wonder: do you think moms are bragging because we post a picture of our kids playing together in the snow? Hm.

What worries me is NOT that others think that's what I'm doing, quite honestly I don't care what others think about my pictures and posts. But what worries me is that moms in particular are QUICK to assume this is what another mother is doing... bragging about her great and perfect kids and life. Why do we think this? Is this because we feel bad about our own lives or feel like we can't measure up? I don't get it. But I think it leads to mommy wars that are oftentimes talked about and should stop.

When I post a picture (above) of my kids holding hands, that doesn't mean they're always holding hands and loving on each other. It doesn't mean that I didn't break up a few fights that day or lose my patience with them saying "separate from each other kids!" It means I don't care to put on Facebook "Hey all, my kids fought today, isn't that great?"

When I post a picture (below) of my children smiling at me on Christmas Day before the mess started, it doesn't mean that they refused to look at me for like 10 tries before this picture and frustrated me. It doesn't mean that our house wasn't torn apart in like 30 seconds after this picture. It doesn't mean that they were good listeners that day or that I was patient every second. In fact, Christmas is one of the most stressful days of the year to me! It does mean though that I love my kids and seeing them on Christmas, and I didn't want to post online "Merry Christmas! We have zero patience over here because we got up at 5 a.m.!" It means I was looking on the bright side, focusing on the positive. If we don't do that as moms, we won't last!

I am not a fan of posting pictures of my kids all upset with the world. It's a part of life, yes, I get it, but I don't see the purpose and I don't personally want to keep that picture to treasure the memory of that fit or tantrum. So I post happy pictures, of people smiling and having fun, of new adventures, memories we made. I think this is a good thing. There's enough bad in the world.

I am ALL about talking about the bad stuff, the hard moments. If you follow this blog and the Facebook group, you KNOW that about me. I'm ALWAYS encouraging moms to TALK about those tough moments. I just don't share the pictures. It's a personal choice. Not because I want to be perfect.

When I post a picture (below) of my floor looking pretty clean, it doesn't mean that it was always that clean. In fact, there are tons of scratches on this floor and it's covered in dust half the time. I don't remember the last time I washed it. But that's not the point of this picture. I posted this wanting to remember how cute my baby is as he's turning almost six years old, how he still plays with tractors. This picture was for his dad to see and for his grandparents to see because I know it would make them smile.

When I post something (below) of my child hugging me and looking like we're all lovey dovey, it's because well, we were in that moment. It doesn't mean we're always like that. It doesn't mean I walk around patient and all zen every day as a mother. It means finally I caught a moment of my baby hugging me and I want to remember this 10 years from now, and I think you'll think it's cute, too, so there it is online for you to see.

When I post a picture (below) of my tall son looking adorable in front of dinosaurs it's because I'm thinking that he won't always be little and wanting to be near dinosaurs and I want to remember this. And I'm of the belief that we should be taking pictures to share with others. Why on earth take a zillion pictures and leave them on your phone for nobody to see?

I have tons of family and friends around the country not near me who want to see my kids, so I post pictures. I think that's great!

Yes, I do make messes and live a busy life where there is dust everywhere. I post pictures ALL the time on my Instagram account of my messy toy room and kitchen sink. I don't put that on my Facebook because I don't think people care to see it. But I know moms love it, so I put it on that Instagram account.

When I post pictures of being happy, please know that I'm NOT trying to make you feel less happy about your own life OR that I'm trying to pretend my life is perfect. It's not. It's just MY life, and in my life I LIKE posting pictures. A lot. So either like them and smile, too, or just stop following them and post your own pictures! 

What I think we all need as moms is confidence, self esteem, strength and courage. To be ourselves. To show our flaws and talk about them. To be comfortable in our own skin. We need support and encouragement from other moms. We need to put pictures out there of us using formula instead of breastfeeding and be all good with it. We need to feel like we can wear yoga pants to the grocery store without someone thinking we're lazy for not showering that day. We need to talk more about our experiences, honestly, and share that someone is not alone, we've been there, too.

When we see another mom's beautiful pictures of her kids, a vacation they took, or a clean house or delicious homemade meal we need to stop being jealous and judgey, and instead smile and say, "That's so great for her! Happy pictures, awesome!" We need to stop feeling guilty for not measuring up, and we need to stop comparing to other women. We need to be cool with who WE are, however that plays out, even on our busiest, messiest days as mothers. 

Do your thing, moms. Do what makes you happy, what works for your family. Stop comparing. Stop assuming. Be happy with what you have. If you want something someone else seems to have, then go get it! Work hard, ask for help, ask for advice, do it. But stop judging and assuming someone else is perfect just because of your own feelings about something. Support a mom with her happy pictures and smile. It's ALL good.

We are supposed to be different as moms, we're supposed to because we have different kids, different lives and backgrounds, experiences, jobs, etc. It's not normal that perfection even be a thing in motherhood. It doesn't exist. So stop thinking someone else has found it and stop beating yourself up for not achieving it. It's not normal! And that's OK.

Happy mothering :) however you do it, pictures or no pictures, SMILE. You have much to be proud of, moms.

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