Friends, I’ve been wanting to make a PSA for awhile now but haven’t known exactly how to say what’s on my mind. But today, I finally just decided to sit down and start typing, so here we go:
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I love to post pictures of my little family. And most of the time these pictures are fun, happy ones that show you the highlights and great times of our life. That’s just it, though. You’re only seeing the highlights. Social media tends to be like that; most of us gravitate toward posting pictures of the date nights, Christmas parties, smiling babies, and the moments where we feel like we’ve got this whole life/parenthood/spouse/friend thing figured out.
I think (hope) that we’re all aware that social media is just a tiny glimpse into someone’s life, but it’s definitely easy to assume that the perfectly posed, Instagram-filtered photos are the way someone’s entire life is lived. I struggle with this a lot, because I enjoy taking and posting pictures so much and social media – Instagram especially – is like an online journal for me, a way to memorialize some of the fun adventures and highlights of my family’s life. But I also don’t ever want to seem fake or like I’m trying to project some false image that I “have it all together” (in case you didn’t already know: I DO NOT have it all together ?).
I never want to seem like I’m trying to project this “perfect life” on my social media. I’ve toyed with posting more “raw” photos of some of the tough times (like when my baby refuses to nap or I spill the entire contents of the vacuum cleaner bag all over the kitchen floor…those both happened last week?) but I also don’t want to be a complainer or use social media to broadcast all my troubles.
And the reason I’m REALLY gun-shy about posting about the tougher parts of motherhood is because of something that happened when I was pregnant. I had posted a “bump photo” of me at some point into my third trimester and talked about how excited we were to meet Lydia and how she was the size of whatever fruit or vegetable right now… and then at the end of my (very positive) post about my pregnancy, I made a lighthearted comment, “now if only my nausea would go away! ?”
…I was sick my entire pregnancy with nausea that would send me dry-heaving into the bathroom if I didn’t eat every 2 hours on the dot. (And sometimes even the eating didn’t help.) I didn’t complain about it much at all, and my mention of it in my post was simply meant to be a lighthearted comment, not a complaint. However, a man that I didn’t even know very well but was somehow friends with on Facebook commented on my post, “Maybe if you thought about all the women who would love to be pregnant but can’t, it would help you not focus on your nausea.”
I was so upset over this comment. I felt HORRIBLE that maybe my post had come across as being ungrateful for my pregnancy, but at the same time I was also frustrated that this person had chosen to take that one lighthearted comment out of context of my entire post and then make me feel guilty for not treasuring my nausea. It didn’t help that this guy was a former missionary and he projected a very godly presence on Facebook, which made me feel like such a sinner when he put me in my place. :'(
I’m not sure exactly what my closing summary is in all of this, but I just needed to be open with my Facebook and Instagram friends because I’ve been feeling for awhile now that I might be giving off the impression that my life is easy or perfect or that I never get grumpy and exhausted or snap at my husband or feel frustrated when my daughter wakes up constantly during the night. I’m tentatively hopeful that I can begin sharing more real life photos and posts in a way that doesn’t seem grumbling about my life but rather just being honest about the everyday struggles that we all face in this motherhood journey. And I also hope, after reading this post, you will understand that even when I do post the smiley, happy, highlight pictures, they are really just a small part of our real lives and if you spent a day with us you’d know we’re just as much of a mess as the next person. 🙂I’ve really wrestled with getting off social media altogether and shutting down my Facebook and Instagram, but the truth is that I love photos… I love taking them, sharing them, making photobooks on Shutterfly for our coffee table, and photos are the way I capture our memories and milestones as a family. I’ve thought a lot (and had several conversations with Rob, too) about whether I’m posting on social media out of a need for approval and praise from others, but at this point I don’t think that’s my motive. (Ok, let’s be real, it’s probably a small part of my motive, but I think it probably is for all of us if we’re being honest with ourselves??) I truly do just love to capture our memories all in one place and every so often Rob and I will scroll way back in my Instagram just to relive some of those memories and talk about the fun we had on certain dates, vacations, hikes, and family nights together. So, I’m not planning to stop posting, but I want to be more open about the day to day ups and downs of my life, because I know when I see friends of mine doing that on social media, it’s encouraging to me to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have it all together!! I’ve just been so gun-shy up until now about ever posting anything but “we are sooo happy and look at our big smiles and our lives are so great!!” because of what happened with that pregnancy post. :-\
I hope this makes sense. I just needed to get this all off my chest. Thanks for reading! If you have any suggestions or things that have helped you use social media in an uplifting-yet-honest way, please share; I would love to hear your thoughts!