I’m the first to admit I’m bit of an Instagram addict. I love looking at those little sqaures of people’s lives and wondering how they’ve managed to have a clean, beautiful house, happy kids and be so well-groomed.
I follow most of the famed #instamums and whereas some promise to provide honest accounts of parenting, the majority are portraying a completely unrealistic ideal. I can read between the lines;
“Took little Timmy to Peppa Pig land and despite a few tears on the helicopter and a wobble at lunch, a truly magical day was had by all.”
I read this is;
“Timmy kicked right off on the helicopters… might have scarred him for life? Also the shit refused to eat the picnic I made so has eaten ice cream for lunch ffs.”
Call me a cynic but surely it’s nearly impossible to feel #soblessed every day?
The more honest Instamums provide some antidote to this but not wholly. Because in the world of social media, we share our wins, we share our good times, birthdays, anniversaries but overwhelmingly we only share our fails if there’s a humour to it or we really believe it’s relatable.
It’s natural to want to snap a picture of your kids enjoying a day at the beach, or if they face-plant the sand and have a tantrum and it’s mildly hilarious.
If your kids are loving a Santa visit or hating it, it still makes a good photo to share.
It’s a very different thing when you’ve had 3 hours of broken sleep, your 18 month old wants to live on your hip all day, your 3 year old wants your attention too, they’ve whined and tantrummed all day and you haven’t had a moment to even think about a coffee. No one is taking that photo for Instagram. Or how about sharing the dark thoughts such as “why did I ever think I wanted kids?”, or “They should bring back spanking, that might make them listen?” Or how about the screaming (at the kids which makes you feel like the worst mum ever). Or the stress-induced throwing of things (apples mainly, and never at the kids).
No-one in those lowest, loneliest pits of motherhood is thinking, “this would be a brilliant Facebook live.”
It’s really dawned on me since running my own activity-based Instagram. I share a lot of pictures of my girls and I baking and often talk about the stickiness, raw egg consumption and general hot mess that is my house. But I’ve still had strangers comment things like,
“You’re such a good mum.”
“I wish I was one of your kids.”
I want to reply,
“No! I’m mediocre at most aspects of parenting,” but I don’t, because what would people think?
Some days I feel like a really shit mum. Some days I feel like a brilliant mum.
But I think most of us do. Regardless of a few perfect squares on Instagram no one is treasuring every moment. It’s impossible.
I’m not saying I’m going to start broadcasting my banshee-style yelling the three minutes before we leave for school on my Instagram stories. But I am now acutely aware that even the most perfect-looking families aren’t perfect.
So I’m doing myself a favour and taking every post (including my own) with a massive pinch of salt. Because really even Mother Teresa probably felt like a shit mum at times.*
*ok she wasn’t technically a mum so insert the perfect mum of your nightmares here.
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