2 May 2018

Making memories. Not photos for social media.

Just pretend that you’re happy. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST PRETEND TO LOOK LIKE YOU’RE HAVING A GREAT TIME AND YOU LOVE BEING IN THIS FAMILY.  Said no parent before the birth of social media. 

We all want to share those perfect moments, those moments that unfortunately drive FOMO, jealousy, feelings of inadequacy and an unachievable reality. We feel our lives need comparing or to match, but my life doesn't look like anyone else’s. It’s not better, it’s not worse. It's just different. 

It’s easy to make judgement, easy to define people in those little squares you see every day. Safely behind our screens we can look at friends or strangers, quantifying their happiness and success by the number of likes, toothy smiles and filtered sunny days that appear on their feed. 

It’s even easier to compare those squares to that of our own. Everything looks perfect. Black or white, with no spectrum of colour or context. Sometimes, and especially if were not in a good place mentally, we look at these squares searching to reinforce the images that we have already painted in our own minds. They reinforce and feed our own insecurities and feelings of self-doubt.

On a low day, especially when you’re fighting through the indoor domestic jungle with a baby in tow feeling inadequate and squishy with sick in your hair and your jumper on inside out, it’s difficult to see anything else but the perfect image of strangers. You imagine their perfect lives and stand in awe of their seven perfect kids and their size zero bodies. Everyone else appears to be winning.  But in the depths of cabin fever and social stalking, it’s good to think about what happened 3 seconds before or after that perfect family snap you just swiped past. It most probably ended in the one-year-old pinching their four-year-old brother’s eyelid and the repercussion was the smaller of the two landing 'accidently' head first in the mud.

When we’re thinking reasonably we know this, but sometimes the filters are so thick its difficult to wade through the story telling and find the real stuff. 

There is pressure to live the social media life of perfection. The voice inside screaming you need to keep up - teach your kids something - educate them when you're for once lying horizontally on the sofa and you’re happily indulging in your own imprint. Do we need to post a snap to show the day wasn’t exactly what it was? The fact that you were for once chilling out, maxing, deservedly relaxing with your own motley crew. Is this why suddenly the "hey let's build a den" just blurts out of your mouth. The kids are already hyperventilating before my husband can race across the room to slap some sanity back into me. His facial expression clearly says we were all quite happy watching Moana before you ruined it. My facial expression is an apologetic 'Erm you're welcome'. 

The educational yet fun activity quickly turns sour when the mop that you've wedged in the sofa to form the structural wall of the den, envelopes around your small child’s head whilst their munching their den snack of marmite crackers. The questionable choice of snack then become stuck to your freshly washed sheets/ den walls then smeared and blended into the God knows how many stains scrubbed into your carpet. Two mental notes taken here: 1: Perhaps dark towels would have been a better structural choice and 2:  The ‘We do not eat in the living room’ rule is moving firmly back up the house rules list. 

I get why we would post the king of the castle den snap rather than the pile of sheets heaped on the ground smeared in marmite. It doesn't quite conjure up the same image or impression to those 10s/100s/1000’s of strangers.

We're caught up thinking we know what the picture should look like before it's taken, four faces smiling in a very impressive home built den, but then we've missed the moment the kids were giggling and bonding over marmite smears and are left disappointed with a snap of the sibling mop domestic. My husband’s facial expression hasn’t changed as he waits to press play on Moana in an attempt to recreate the calm before the marmite tidal wave. 

The pictures I'm drawn to on social media are the: If you don't laugh you'll cry, slap in the face, honest posts of reality that unite me to a fellow tribe of mums. They remind me I'm not the only one that gets tapped on the shoulder at the train station on the morning commute by an easy on the eye twenty-something-leather jacket-wearing-rugged guy to say, “Just to let you know you’ve stepped in dog poo and you’ve stepped it all the way up the station steps”. Wow. And there was me strutting up the steps with a trail behind me thinking I still had it.

That said, I’m also drawn to the glam pics on social media for the inspiration, the intrigue and excitement that life could also look shiny, calm, and out of a catalogue. I also know that these are just moments in people’s lives. They are real people who I'm sure look good and have fun most of the time - but sometimes these people must also step in dog sh*te too. Remember that. Sometimes people, we all need to keep this sh*t real.

Keep glamming it up, keep the photos coming, I want to be inspired. I can't lie the filter is still turned on my own camera at times. I unapologetically want to share proud pictures of my cute little pudding faces and the times I make it out the house with heels that aren’t laced in dog sh*te. But, I welcome you to balance out the black and white starry eyed snaps with colour and context. Be proud to share those perfect moments of imperfection as well. Half of my own pictures don’t fit in a catalogue but are the ones that have a firm place in my own family album as I want to look back and remember the moments that mattered for me, no one else.

written by @maxedoutmumma 


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