Social Media vs. Reality

Today was a beautiful day; the morning was cool, but nice, and by afternoon the sun was shining strongly and continued through the evening, where the temperature returned to a comfortable range. It really was the perfect day for our planned activity of raspberry and blueberry picking. If I uploaded photos from today’s adventure, you would see this:

 

 

I don’t know about all of you, but if I logged onto Facebook or Instagram I might think something along the lines of, “aw, cute!” or “looks like they had fun!” or “wow, they are off doing something again!”

 

But guess what? Those pictures and those thoughts don’t reflect a fraction of today’s reality.

 

This looks like a photo of an empty raspberry field that we get to gallivant and enjoy mostly to ourselves, right?

 

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Wrong.

 

We had arrived about fifteen minutes prior. As soon as we stepped out of the car, I had threatened the kids that we would leave if they couldn’t keep their behavior in check. The baby immediately started to cry when I took him out of the car. I stayed at the end of the row to nurse him while the other two started picking. Just as I finished nursing the baby and he promptly returned to crying, Leilani happily skipped back to me while Carson continuously yelled, “I have to go to the bathroom!” across the field. That’s about the moment this photo of the empty raspberry field that we got to enjoy was taken. It was taken with a crying baby in one arm and a five-year-old whining that he had to go to the bathroom when there isn’t one where we are.

 

Next on my camera roll is this picture of Leilani looking adorable and giving herself raspberry eyes.

 

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Behind the camera, there is a baby still screaming. Right after the photo was taken, Carson was scolding Leilani for eating the raspberries and not putting them in the bucket.

 

Next is this photo of Carson picking and Leilani laughing.

 

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Looks innocent, right? What the photo didn’t capture was Leilani stealing a handful of raspberries from Carson’s bucket and the subsequent meltdown.

 

When it was time to go, I finally caved to Leilani’s relentless asking of if she could go in the stroller. Since I was now holding a baby and three buckets of raspberries, Carson was thrilled that he could push her. They both thought it was great.

 

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Until it wasn’t anymore. This photo was captured approximately five seconds before the stroller started to tip and Leilani was whining that “Carson did it on purpose” and I struggled to pick everything up without spilling all the raspberries.

 

Part one of the outing was (thankfully) complete, and we were off to blueberry picking! To be honest, I don’t even recall what ensued next. All I know is that it involved one kid crying, me pulling over on the side of the road and berating the kids for their behavior, then three out of four of us crying simultaneously, me pulling into the blueberry picking parking lot and calling my husband to let off some steam and swearing to him with all of the kids in the car and in earshot, and trying to regain composure so that we didn’t look like the wreck of a family that we are as we started off towards the bushes.

 

I fed the baby again to help curb the possibility of even more crying before we crossed the road. I must have yelled at the kids enough, because while I did that, they picked flowers (aka weeds) for me out of the parking lot. We cross the road and an innocent mom with her two children happily trailing along says to me, “still crying, huh?”. You see, feeding the baby didn’t help him to stop cry and this mom saw me a half hour prior at raspberry picking. Nothing had changed other than that my aggravation had increased. I tried to shrug it off and refocus so we could at least have a good time picking blueberries.

 

We enter the blueberry picking area, which apparently isn’t conducive to a stroller at all. Normally I babywear for most of these types of outings, but my choice was to either let the baby cry in the stroller two feet away from my face and ears, or wear him and have him cry, just much closer to me. So here I am struggling to enter the netted area with a baby carrier in the bottom of the stroller feeling judged by several people passing by me for my use of a stroller. If there’s one thing moms know, it’s that you always feel like you’re doing it wrong and that everyone else is picking up on that. From the outside, it looked like I decided to leave the stroller ten feet away with him crying himself to sleep while I prioritized blueberry picking instead of babywearing and tending to his needs. The reality was that if I had him strapped to me and heard him cry for one more minute, I was going to lose my proverbial shit. In that moment, I chose my other two kids and myself; I chose to focus that they were in good moods and excited about the boundless pickings. I chose to spend time with them and enjoy the fraction of the day with them while I tried to not be irritated by everything else.

 

The baby did end up getting in a micro nap.  When he woke up, I quickly grabbed this photo:

 

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Social media might interpret this photo as a self-absorbed way of me documenting how much fun we had on our morning out. By now I’m sure you know that that wasn’t the case. The truth behind this picture is that the baby stopped crying for half a second and I managed to capture that before Carson spilled an entire bucket of blueberries on the ground and I wrestled the netting to leave while a group of four adults literally just stood there and watched me have my five year old life netting up above his head that he then got tangled in and ask my three year old to move a rock heavier than she is out from in front of the stroller’s wheels.

 

But alas, we were done! We survived! And with several pounds of berries and a headache to prove it. We then walked to go pay.  That’s about the time I was able to grab this quick shot of Carson looking adorably satisfied with his bucket of berries that he picked.

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While waiting in line to pay, the kids picked up sticks to play with. After a few minutes, I asked them to please put them down since it was time to pay. I asked again. Finally, I said, “I’ve asked you twice, if I have to ask again you will have a consequence.” Why is it that I always have to threaten my kids to get them to listen? Why is it that they can’t just do something because they were asked? Why is it that I have to go bat shit on them for them to acknowledge my existence? Needless to say, one of them didn’t drop the stick, so she had to sit until I was done paying. When I approached the stand, the well-intentioned employee said to me, “You’re a good mom. Not many people would follow through.” She meant well. She really did. But I wanted to burst into tears. I don’t want to be a good mom for threatening my kids. I don’t want to be perceived as a good mom for following through on a consequence. I want to be a good mom because I’m raising respectful children and having fun and enjoying parenting. I want to be a good mom because I can be silly with my kids and they feel safe with me. I am so sick of being a “good” mom for constantly punishing my kids because I’ve failed in raising them to be grateful, kind, and tolerant.

 

The second half of the day didn’t exactly take a positive turn. I’ll spare you the details of me yelling in front of my neighbor and her kids, but the day eventually began to wind down. There was even a moment when the older two were playing nicely together and the baby looked adorable with a diaper that matched his shirt.

 

What social media might show you:

 

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What life was like moments prior:

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Finally, I had the end in sight! It was time for me to go to the gym to get some desperate time away from the children. Of course, nothing can be that easy. It was just about time for me to leave when my son went into full on meltdown mode that I wouldn’t bring him. The concept of me needing time away from him because of that exact behavior was not clicking with him at all. After a decent workout, my mood had not improved at all, but my mind was a bit clearer. I checked my phone before driving him and saw this text from my husband:

 

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That’s right; the baby had apparently been screaming since five minutes after I left the house and even my calm and collected husband was about to reach a breaking point and was ready to cave to our very last resort.

 

So, when you see me, or anyone else, post photos, please don’t ever use those to draw conclusions about what someone’s life is like. You have no clue if those photos are an accurate representation or not, and comparing your life to theirs is likely going to do you no good. Sure, my kids and I had some positive, fun moments today. But overall, I’ll look back on those pictures and think back on today and think about what a crappy day we had and how far above average I was with yelling.

 

Maybe tonight I’ll get some sleep. Maybe tomorrow the photos I capture will genuinely reflect our day. Maybe I’ll be able to focus on my daughter’s birthday and how excited I was four years ago when she was born, and I’ll be able to block out how “good” of a mom I was today. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to scroll on by someone’s photos who appears to be living a better life than I am, because chances are they aren’t.

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