By: Cassie Van Der Hyde
Now, how about the reverse? Have you ever looked at social media and felt dismayed, discouraged, or brought down by seeing the constant barrage of “realness” on there that’s meant to combat the perfection? I’ll bet you’ve had this happen to you too, but maybe you didn’t realize it!
A mom acquaintance of mine and I were chatting about how our expectations of experiences are so easy influenced by the things we see and take in. She shared how her first years of parenting and her mindset towards it was heavily affected by a lot of the stuff she saw that gave her the expectation that parenting was going to be some sort of horror. She wasn’t sure how to feel when it turned out that she actually loved being a mom. Should you feel guilty, like you’ve got a secret someone else can’t figure out? Should you keep it to yourself so you don’t appear to be too proud of enjoying yourself? Her comments struck right home with me and really echoed some thoughts I have had lately.
The trend toward “real talk” in conversations online and even in person can be very subtle. It might be when another parent of older kids than our own likes to share constant stories of woe about their teenagers. Or the mom who won’t be quiet about her long labor story in front of the poor pregnant lady at her baby shower. Maybe it’s the friend who constantly tears down her husband’s every (normal, human) fault in front of you. Or maybe it’s even me, putting up pictures of my house in chaos (even though it’s not even close to always that way!) so that I can elicit sympathy from friends in the midst of the same things, while other people trying to decide whether or not they want a child are watching my example and thinking, “Umm, sooo this kid thing isn’t for me!”
All these things may be said perfectly innocently, but I do think sometimes the mom/internet world likes to focus on “realness” (AKA “Look how hard my day as a mom/wife/career path is”), and while we all need a healthy dose of reality, it may also be a bit of an excuse to make ourselves feel good about complaining about stuff that’s just part of life. There’s a good balance somewhere there. Maybe we do need to try to find a balance. Not always sharing all the perfect moments OR always asking for validation that what we are doing in our families, jobs, marriages, and friendships is real work. It’s so sweet and validating (to me) to see other parents riding the wave, hard days and all, and finding joy in the hard, everyday work of raising their kids and nurturing their relationships. Maybe we can all be a little more mindful of sharing those everyday things for what their are—a privilege and a joy.