Are you guilty of faking it online?
I had an interesting chat with another Mum this week as we were swept along on the tidal wave of parents, eager to escape the school gates as quickly as humanly possible. She told me that she loves my blog because I am ‘real’ and tell it like it is.
For me that was such a wonderful thing to hear, because that was exactly why I started my blog and why I try my best to be honest in my posts and on my photo captions on instagram and facebook. But it hasn’t always been this way, and I too am guilty of filtering my life, and still do it now to some extent. We talked about facebook and how seeing everyone’s perfect family photos all the time can be detrimental to someone who isn’t enjoying parenthood at that particular moment and I feel that it is important to tell you that you are not getting the whole picture.
I feel like recently I have been writing less of the posts where I talk about how tough motherhood is because, honestly, it is getting easier. When I think back to those early days where I would wake in a pool of milk, unsure whether it was morning, 5 am or I’d been having an afternoon nap and it was really still day, they seem a very long while ago now. It still has it challenges of course, our days are never 100% rosy but overall, things are much easier and I think that is obvious if you follow me on social media.
Yes I love my children fiercely, I adore them, I think they are gorgeous and I would genuinely put myself into any kind of harm’s way to protect them, all that goes without saying really….but my word sometimes I don’t want to be in the same room as them. Or even the same house!
But equally I don’t want to be totally ‘woe is me, I hate my kids’ all the time, because for a start I don’t. Some days I’m not very keen on them admittedly. 😀 And every so often I need a complete break from them so I can have a ‘thank goodness they’ve gone!’ moment, followed not long after by, ‘gosh it’s quiet without them, I think I miss them!’ moment. And that is real life. Some days are a breeze and we all get along and I cook something from scratch and they help and there are lots of smiles and we might happily do craft with no one having a tantrum. And on others we are all snappy with each other, I have deadline stress, the house is a tip, no-one has clean socks and dinner is a cobbled together afterthought from the local shop that everyone will moan about. And that is real life too!
There is nothing quite like those early years though. I had my son when my daughter was not quite two. It started with the exhaustion of pregnancy, when by 4pm I was done for. It was as much as I could do to switch on cbeebies for her and ding a microwave meal before collapsing in a heap. I couldn’t bend down, the washing was piled up and all I wanted to do was sleep, but I was still positive at that point! 😀 Mum guilt beat me vigorously but I was doing ok!
When my son was born though, two things happened. The first was that my daughter didn’t take to him. She was insanely jealous and refused to have anything to do with me unless I was occupied with the baby, which is when she wanted my attention the most. I remember feeling so torn, I wanted to spend time with this new human I’d made (who, despite all my fears to the contrary, I loved insanely) and so resented her occasionally. Which would follow straight after with enormous guilt that I would rather spend time with my adorable newborn then my, quite frankly prickly and angry first born. But then the pangs of pain when she chose Daddy over me every single time, meaning I was sidelined with the baby for every cuddle, every kiss, every smile, oh they were awful too!
The second thing that happened, was that said baby did not stop crying. You could not put him down. In desperation after several weeks of what felt like torture, listening to him screaming, we forked out nearly £100 for a swinging seat. Which ate batteries like I eat chocolate and only worked to stop the crying about 30% of the time! I also had the dog to think about, who needed walking every day and I ended up resenting everyone! Including my husband who was working on our house at the time and so was regularly doing 6am – 8pm days and working weekends too.
It was a bad time for me and I hit rock bottom, but if I look back over my facebook from that time, you wouldn’t know. Pictures of first smiles and trips out, meals in the garden and happy families. And actually, that’s ok, I am happy with that, it is nice to look back at the good stuff. But it’s not an accurate reflection of how things really were for me.
I know how it really was but I don’t have to be reminded of it constantly which is a relief, and hopefully one day I will forget totally, and just go by the photos. It is also a relief for me to know, that even though I remember things as being dark and even only have hazy recollections of some bits, (probably the extreme sleep deprivation!), it actually wasn’t all doom and gloom, I wasn’t the worst mother in the world, there are pictures of the kids crafting even! 😀 (How I measure myself in motherhood by the way!)
But if I think of it from someone who was also a new mother at the same time as me, looking at my photos and statuses, I can imagine that it looked as if we were coping beautifully, and it’s not an honest reflection. I know that some people are even driven to leave facebook, unable to deal with the onslaught of happy family photos, tidy houses and angelically behaved children when they are barely holding it together. If this is you, you need to remember that this is an edited version of their reality.
If you are struggling, and finding it tough, and you look at someone else’s smiley happy online life, please don’t think that you’re getting the whole picture. The baby might look perfect in a pristine outfit, but behind the camera is maybe a mother in food, snot and goodness knows what else smeared pjs, the house may be an utter tip apart from the one corner that she is photographing in, she might be depressed and trying desperately to paint the’perfect picture’, or maybe she had her Mum round to help clean and dress the baby while she relaxed in the bath and that really was a perfect day for them. You never know anyone else’s story but it’s easy to imagine you do when you are feeling low and trawling through everyone’s wonderful life feeds while you are up feeding the baby for the 5th time in one night.
It’s absolutely normal to find some days tough. To cry, to want to be anywhere else in that moment, to hate everyone but particularly your partner who gets to escape this nightmare for hours a day at work. Just don’t be too scared to say to another Mum, ‘gosh this is hard’, because chances are, she is feeling exactly the same. Despite how perfect her life may look on facebook! I have made some of my closest friends by opening up and saying ‘Wow, this is hard!’ and having them respond with a ‘yeah, I know, want a biscuit?’. So don’t be afraid to reach out, chances are, they are feeling exactly the same, even if their online life says everything is perfect and they use hashtag soblessed on every photo! 😉
Saying you’re having a rubbish day does not mean you are a bad parent or that you don’t love your child. It’s saying that you’re human and you’ll be amazed at how many people will be relieved at your honesty.
Team work makes the dream work! Not anymore though! This is a throw back to the weekend when they were actually working together to achieve something! Today they were fighting so much that they were both sent to bed without a story with some very choice words from Mama after slapping each other while brushing teeth. I’m hoping it’s tiredness and they sort themselves out sharpish otherwise half term will be a whole barrel of laughs! #pinklinker
If these feelings start taking over however, and more days are dark then light, tell someone, ask for help, speak out. You won’t get any judgement, believe me, and it will be the first step on your journey to a brighter future.
There are some amazing places you can turn to for support;