To Balance Reality and Fantasy

If Only I Would Have Known…

That people online cannot be trusted. There’s actually a great blog post going around right now about “Fakebook” and how most of what you see online are the little rays of sunshine that peek through as peoples’ houses implode from a veritable buildup of toddler energy. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s not guilty.

It all starts when we get engaged. We post a million pictures of our faces smashed against our significant other, exclaiming how amazing he or she is. We post our pictures of floral arrangements (“Isn’t he the sweetest?!?!?!”) or the $300 purse he bought us for Christmas (“Isn’t he PERFECT?!?!?”) or eventually the ring (for a teeny tiny moment of braggery). Then comes the wedding, where every little detail is chronicled and at least 1,283 pictures are uploaded within days. Next comes our exotic honeymoon (we rode horses out in the ocean while the sun gleamed off our hair and we walked hand in hand down cobblestone streets before finally heading back to our private island cabana complete with gauzy white curtains fluttering in the salty breeze). When we become pregnant, we rush out to have pictures taken to showcase how good Photoshop can make us look while we’re the biggest we’ve ever been and our faces are flushed and bloated.

And we are happy – that’s not a lie. But we sure have learned to showcase it. Bragging is human nature – it comes from a self-pride and a confidence in life, which are beautiful things. But I think it’s beginning to hurt us too. Lately I’ve stepped back from Facebook. Once an obsessive poster, now I put up a picture or two of Kaleb and post statuses every few days. But I’ve still been reading. And now that I’m not as invested, I’ve realized something. We have started begging comparison in almost every aspect of our lives. We are on a perpetual mission to prove to the world with swords raised high that we are the best mother, the best wife, the best housekeeper. And it’s taking its toll.

Women are being held to ridiculous, almost unobtainable, standards – and lately, it’s not by our husbands. It’s by other moms. Someone posts that their kid had a difficult night last night, and instead of receiving support and a listening ear, within 15 minutes there are 34 posts telling her what she should do to fix the problem. Suddenly, everyone becomes the Baby Guru. Then, continue scrolling, and what’s the next post you see? “I woke up early, did 6 loads of laundry, put an AMAZING dinner (ALL homemade, OF COURSE 😉 in the crockpot, washed the baseboards and vacuumed while dancing with the cord like Mrs. Doubtfire, and explored the concept of viscosity with the kids all before nap! Yay for productivity!!” You know what I did this morning? Rolled out of bed, changed Kaleb’s diaper feeling like I was wading through the trenches of WWI as he kicked me in the face a few times and spilled the powder, chased him around the living room with a plastic dinosaur because that’s what he thinks is funny today, and then sat and watched an episode of Bar Rescue during nap, all still in yoga pants and glasses. Keep scrolling. Next up will be someone’s post about how some common baby product or household item that 99.9% of Americans use on a daily basis is slowly killing your kid (AND it’s a government conspiracy – who knew???). Then comes a picture of a sandwich and a description bragging about how Paleo it is (I wonder what that even means as I smell my buffalo chicken mac n cheese cooking in the oven).

Before I receive the backlash that I’m sure I will, because you know you can’t say anything these days without a disclaimer, let me say that it’s all well and good what you choose to do with your kids and your days. There are a lot of days that I clean my house from the minute Kaleb goes down for a nap until the second he wakes up (and I usually curse and beg the gods for five more minutes, just five!!! I’m not done yet!!!!). I do laundry daily (who knew three people could produce so much?!?) and dishes, and I at least Swiffer. My kid gets three squares a day with snacks in between, and most of them are healthy and balanced. He gets more hugs and kisses than I’ll ever admit to him when he’s a teenager. He runs to me and hugs me all the time. I’m a good mom. AND YOU ARE TOO. And guess what? We all know that. Without all the posts where you desperately try to prove that to us.

We all want to share our good days and moments. We all want to show off those smushed-faced photos when our kids are actually smiling. But we have bad days and moments too, and that’s ok. No one is Supermom every day. But that’s what we’re obviously expecting from each other. We “like” all those posts, and then wonder if we’re being a worse mom than so-and-so because she did all 57 things on her facebook post with a newborn on her hip. Just because someone posts their bad day (or night, let’s face it) doesn’t mean they’re begging for advice. If they want it, they’ll ask for it (in a way that actually sounds like asking for advice), and then I hope they take it with 20 grains of salt because the same things don’t work for everyone. The moral is this: Don’t feel like you have to be Fitness Mom and Learning Activity Mom and Healthfood Mom and Perfectly Balanced Mom all the time. You don’t.

And stop “liking” those blog posts about being real, and then going and posting your usual statuses. What’s happening is that we know those posts about waking up and trudging to the coffee pot and being thankful for a ten minute shower without the door being opened on us are the reality of motherhood most days, but we still feel compelled to compete with other moms, to showcase that “look at me! I’m doing it! I’m doing it really well! Do you see??” attitude. Let’s be real. Let’s not judge each other when we sigh about some funny comedy of errors that happened while the husband was at work. Let’s quit admitting that we know that the reality is different than the portrayal most days, and then continue to put on a show.

Embrace the mashed potatoes in your kid’s hair. Chances are, the mom next door is battling squash.

All our love,

Allison and Kaleb

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