Recently while browsing Facebook , I came across a status of a hardworking, frustrated parent, who wondered how someone who had more kids than her and no job could manage to take several vacations during the summer while “I can’t even manage to go away for the weekend.”
I understood this mom’s frustration. It happens when we view other’s lives through social media. I’ve been guilty of this “Facebook ( or Social Media) Envy” phenomenon on a number of occasions. You know, we’ve all seen those posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. with the family on the beach of some exotic island with six children under the age of five, gigantic smiles on their faces, arms around each other, seemingly having the quintessential family vacation in paradise. We compare, we fantasize, we berate ourselves for not being able to “have it all” like the family in the photo.
But really, who’s that “perfect?”
Not me. Nor are most of us parents, including those who project these “fantastic” lives out into the world via the Internet.
I recently read an article on oprah.com that reminded readers that social media posts only give us a glimpse into one moment of time in someone’s life. You don’t get to see or know what happened before or after that photo, because if you did, you probably would have seen mom frantically running around trying to keep the 3-year-old twins from running into the ocean and ruining their outfits for the photo, or the 5-year-old having a meltdown an hour before because he was forced to abandon his sandcastle to get changed for the family photo and dinner. We didn’t see Mom and Dad get into an argument because Mom knew this wasn’t the best time for a dinner out or a family photo for that matter, because her 11 month old hadn’t napped all day, the kids were hungry and meltdowns such as the aformentioned 5-year-old’s were on the horizon for all but the pouting 13-year-old (who had disappeared for most of the day and was just found 30 minutes before the photo snuggling on the beach with an unknown boy, and had declared that she was “never going to speak to her parents again” for embarrassing her when Mom literally dragged her away kicking and screaming) — but Dad insisted, the photo came out great and now we fear we are missing out or failing to provide our kids with their own “perfect” vacation memories.
Yup nobody’s perfect, but we all have those perfect moments every once in a while and like to share them with others. The problem is, we start comparing ourselves and our everyday lives to those moments. As a result we often feel inadequate, and become frustrated, jealous, overwhelmed and resentful for not being able to live up to these high parental standards we have set for ourselves because of some non-existent parental ideal. Ugh.
As I continued to browse a few Facebook status updates that same day, about five statuses down I found ones that I copied to my wall right away in hopes that the frazzled and frustrated parent who wrote the original post above would read it and find a little comfort. It did me. I also thought it would serve as a good reminder to all of us as to what’s really important to our families and to our kids, and how (Social Media status and posts aside) all of us are just stumbling along this crazy path of parenthood and doing the best we can. Enjoy!
For the days we are running on empty. For the days we just don’t think we have it in us to read one more story, play one more game of Uno, wash one more round of sheets. For the days when we think everyone else has it together. For the days we’re sure anyone else would do this job better.
For those days. You know the ones.
Repeat after me:
1. I shall not judge my house, my kid’s summer activities or my crafting skills by Pinterest’s standards.
2. I shall not measure what I’ve accomplished today by the loads of unfolded laundry but by the assurance of deep love I’ve tickled into my kids.
3. I shall say yes to blanket forts and see past the chaos to the memories we’re building.
4. I shall surprise my kids with trips to get ice cream when they’re already in their pajamas.
5. I shall not compare myself to other mothers but find my identity in the God who trusted me with these kids in the first place.
6. I shall remember that a messy house at peace is better than an immaculate house tied up in knots.
7. I shall play music loudly and teach my kids the joy of wildly uncoordinated dance.
8. I shall remind myself that perfect is simply a street sign at the intersection of impossible and frustration in Never Never land.
9. I shall embrace the fact that in becoming a mom I traded perfect for a house full of real.
10. I shall promise to love this body that bore these three children out loud, especially in front of my daughter.
11. I shall give my other mother friends the gift of guilt-free friendship.
12. I shall do my best to admit to my people my unfine moments.
13. I shall say sorry when sorry is necessary.
14. I pray God I shall never be too proud, angry or stubborn to ask for my children’s forgiveness.
15. I shall make space in my grown-up world for goofball moments with my kids.
16. I shall love their father and make sure they know I love him.
17. I shall model kind words to kids and grown-ups alike.
18. I shall not be intimidated by the inside of my minivan this season of chip bags, goldfish crackers and discarded socks too shall pass.
19. I shall always make time to encourage new moms.
20. I shall not resent that last call for kisses and cups of water but remember instead that when I blink they’ll all be in college.
… with love from one tired mother to another.