Social Media vs. Real Life

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.  :'( 
 
Needless to say, that entire experience made me extremely gun-shy of ever sharing “less than happy” aspects of my life, and specifically of motherhood. Once my baby arrived and she was healthy and safe, I felt paranoid that if I ever posted anything about sleepless nights or crazy postpartum hormones, people would think I wasn’t grateful for my adorable little girl and how blessed I was to have her. As a result, I tend to post only about the positive, happy times of parenthood. The days when my baby naps, the house gets cleaned, and dinner is on the table when my husband gets home. But then I end up feeling fake and I wonder if people think I’m trying to act like I have this whole parenthood thing perfectly figured out. (Because I most definitely don’t.) But my dilemma is how to share honest, raw, and real life glimpses into my motherhood journey, without seeming like I’m complaining. Especially with motherhood, I feel like this is such a sensitive issue because there ARE so many women who ache with the grief of infertility or the pain of knowing they will never be able to conceive, and I don’t ever want to seem ungrateful for the amazing little girl God has given to Rob and me.

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!

— Hope

 

Lessons from the First 4 Months of Motherhood

Motherhood is sure stretching and growing me in many ways. I’m only 4.5 months in, so I’m a total newbie still, but if there’s one lesson that stands out in my mind so far, it would be this:

You are not in control.

Ha. Any mom who is reading this right now is probably chuckling and nodding her head.  I sat next to a really sweet lady at church a few weeks ago and we got chatting about our kids. Hers were several years older than mine and she asked how I was adjusting to life with a baby. I said, “Well, it’s definitely teaching me that I’m really not in control!” She laughed and said, “Honey, control is an illusion. None of us are ever in control.”

So. True.
But before having a baby, I definitely lived under that illusion at times. Okay, most of the time.
My life was so orderly, running like a well-oiled machine (for the most part). And there’s nothing like having a baby to teach a Type-A, schedule-loving, extremely organized person that life will be so much betterimg_2379 if you just let go of trying to be in control!

You realize as a mom that everything is flexible. I used to hate that word!! 😛 Now it is my lifesaver and my mantra.

Want to meet for coffee? Ok, I’ll be there around 10:30. Oops, baby had a diaper blowout…be there at 11!  Need to run to the grocery store? Wait, she’s falling asleep so I think we’ll just go after nap-time. Babies are great at helping us crazy Type-As learn to just go with the flow. 🙂 It wasn’t an easy transition for me, but I’m slowly getting more used to it and becoming more…dare I say it, flexible.  😉  let-go-of-control

Because I’ve always been a timely person who hardly ever cancels on anyone and hates to make changes to the original plan, I feel horrible when I have to reschedule or arrive late to a coffee date with a friend. It doesn’t happen too often any more (I’ve learned to build in a 20 minute buffer to get out the door, haha!) but when it does I always apologize profusely and struggle not to feel like an awful person for keeping someone waiting. Did I mention I also have a perfectionist side? I’ve also been learning a lot about being okay with imperfection in my life. (Not that I ever thought I was perfect, but I definitely tried to be.)  I think I need to re-read the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. My counselor recommended that to me during my recovery from anorexia, and it was very instrumental in my healing. Anorexics are notorious for being perfectionists, and I was definitely not the exception.

Speaking of imperfection, motherhood has helped me be okay with an imperfect house too! While I still maintain a pretty clean home and keep up with the dishes and laundry for the most part, I’ve loosened the reigns a lot when it comes to dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms. I realized one day that my friends would still love me and come over to hang out even if my coffee table was dusty and my bathroom hadn’t seen Windex in a couple weeks time. Imagine that.

All of this to say, I’m really grateful for these lessons that motherhood is teaching me so far. I’ve got a long ways to go, but my other favorite mantra in this stage of life is “one day at a time” so I’m just going to keep chugging along. 🙂

Not only is this little cutie an amazing joy and blessing, but she’s teaching me so much every single day. I’m really thankful for this mama life.  <3

Sovereign Over Us

(originally written July 30, 2016)

If you have a Facebook account, you’ve probably noticed from time to time that Facebook will remind you of memories from years past of what you posted on any given day. I don’t usually give them much notice, but this morning the memory Facebook popped up with was one that brought back many emotions along with it.

11694089_667929953306560_6350319234625176378_nA year ago today, I shared a picture of the whiteboard on our fridge. Rob had written lyrics on it from a song called “Sovereign Over Us” by Michael W Smith. I wrote in my post about how these lyrics were such an encouragement to me; a reminder that God is in control even when it doesn’t necessarily feel like it at times. I wrote about how this song had been playing on repeat in my car and home for the past week.

What I didn’t say in my post was that the reason this song meant so much to me was that we had been trying for several months to get pregnant, with no success. With each month that passed, I felt like more of a failure. I felt like something was wrong with me. I had already been nervous about my ability to get pregnant because of my history with anorexia, and it felt like each month that fear was becoming more of a reality, no matter how hard I tried to trust God and have faith.

Rob introduced me to this song somewhere around that time, and it quickly became my lifeline, my reminder that God was with me. I literally played it on repeat over and over again in my car during every tough day, and wrote the lyrics in my journal many times. I listened to it on my trail runs, and sung it, through tears sometimes, while I cooked dinner.

One weekend we went to a wedding where it seemed like every woman around me was pregnant. It felt as if everywhere I turned there was a reminder of the ache in my heart that had yet to be satisfied. I felt pretty defeated by the end of the night, despite my best efforts to keep a smile on my face. However, the next day at church, this same song came on the screen during our worship and I had tears of hope running down my cheekse as I sung the very familiar lines:

“There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust”

Up until now, I’ve been afraid to talk or write about how much I struggled emotionally with this journey of trying to conceive, because I know there are so many couples out there who tried far longer than we did to get pregnant. There are so many who have had to wrestle with long-term infertility or are faced with the inability to ever have children.
My heart breaks for them. I can’t even come close to imagining or understanding how painful that heartache must be.
I feel embarrassed sometimes with how much I struggled through the months that it took us to conceive.
But I’m learning as time has gone by that although my story quickly pales in comparison to so many others who are dealing with far more painful circumstances, this is still my story, and I hope that perhaps by sharing it, it will be an encouragement to someone else in their journey too.

I like to think sometimes that I am in control of my life. I love making lists, planning out my day (and my month, if I’m being honest) being organized, and feeling confident of how “the plan” is going to go. Needless to say, I approached our efforts to conceive with my usual Type A mindset: if I do XYZ, I should be able to guarantee ____ outcome.

trust-godWhen one month after another passed by with no sign of a baby, I was forced to admit that I really wasn’t in control. This is one of the many lessons I was reminded of again and again during those months of doubt and fear. It felt as if the Lord was gently whispering, “Let go of your need for control. Stop exhausting yourself with this struggle. Surrender. I know what’s best for you and I have good things in store for you. Trust Me.”

It’s a lesson that I’m still learning to this day. I don’t think I’ll ever be done with it. It’s a continuous endeavor, and some days and weeks are better than others. I still struggle to let go of my desire for control. I still try (often) to hold the reigns to my life, but God gently reminds me again and again that I can trust and rest in Him.  Surrender is not a dramatic one-time event, but rather a journey of many little steps, just one foot in front of the other. And I’m trying to make those small, moment-by-moment choices to have faith in His sovereign plan. He has good things in store for me, and for you. You can trust Him, friend.

“Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us”
–Sovereign Over Us by Michael W. Smith

Back to Blogging!!

I’m back!! After a VERY long hiatus from blogging, I’m excited to get back into this!! I’ve been wanting to start up my blog again for awhile now, primarily because a lot has been going on in my life and blogging is one of my favorite forms of journaling and remembering milestones and events.

Now that I’m a mostly-stay-at-home-mom who only works a few afternoons a week, I’m hoping I’ll actually have more time to devote to putting my thoughts on paper screen. Ideally, the little babe will take some nice long naps during which I can sit on my couch with coffee in hand and write, write, write! That’s the plan anyway. But if there’s one thing having a baby has taught me, it’s that I’m really not in control. 😉

Can’t believe how fast the time has flown; she is already 4 months old!! I’m planning to write up her “birth story” one of these days and share it here on the blog! But for now, here are some pictures of her teeny newborn cuteness!! 🙂

 

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