It would easy to believe that everyone else is having a better life than you if you took social media at face value. Everyone else has perfect kids, go on perfect holidays, have the perfect partner and never, ever have a problem in the world.
Having said that, I’m pretty sure we’re all a bit guilty of the social media bubble. It feels a little bit smug to post a photo of your kids giving each other a hug, or a holiday snap at an exotic location. It says ‘Hey, look at me with my perfect life! I’ve got it all together!’
The funny thing is, what happens in the moments before the snap… or after… is not publicised. That perfect moment is frozen in time, but the tantrum that followed because you said no to an ice-cream, or the ‘accident’ because the toilet was too far away, or the trip over and skinned knee that resulted in a half an hour of sobs, snot and band aides.
My son was (and still is to an extent) a highly emotional person when things are not going his way. When he was two or three I remember taking him to kinder gym and expecting him to join in the structured part of the lesson. I looked on at all these other two- and three-year old’s singing the ‘hello’ song and pointing to different parts of their body on command. And where was my child? Rolling on the mat in the far corner.
Another time we went along to a craft group, where the kids were free to play and roam while the parents (mostly Mums) did different arty activities. I was so keen to make connections with other adults and use my creative skills, however my son would not leave my side… climbing up my leg and constantly wanting me to entertain him.
In these two stories there is a common theme: my expectations vs my reality.
Now, I could have chosen to document these events in a way that made me look like a super mum.
“Having fun at Kinder Gym this morning! Rolling along the mats was a huge hit!”
“Crafty fun with the kids this morning! So nice to connect with other like-minded Mums and have somewhere for the kids to socialise!”
We can so easily control how the world sees us via online platforms. We can convince others that we have it all together and our kids are a breeze. But you and I know the truth – and that ain’t it!
So next time you scroll through your Instagram or Facebook and find yourself feeling like a failure, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this real?
- What is MY reality?
- Do I need to compare myself to others?
I hope the answer to number three is NO. Our self-worth as a parent doesn’t come from social media. It comes from what we do every day, all day. It’s not just a happy snap where everything looks perfect (for one second!), it’s the parts that come before and after that snap.
(I’ve included an ‘after the perfect snap’ image for this blog… it’s one of my favourites. Caption it ‘Enjoying a babycino with my boy’).