At what point do we agree that nobody is sugar coating parenting anymore? Because despite the schtick that mothers don’t “really tell it how it is”, these days that’s pretty much all we do. Mothers across the land are hanging out their dirty washing on the interwebs, ‘mum moments’ merrily flapping in the hot air.
It’s a mystery to me how any new parent can claim to have had no idea what parenting would ‘really be like’, when there is a barrage of information-slash-confessions being hung up each and every day.
Parenting is hard.
Parenting is relentless.
Parenting is exhausting.
Parenting is impossible without a glass of whine.
Conversely, people seem to have a real issue with pretty Instagram accounts and blog posts with lovely pictures of mothers happily playing with their kids. In fact, every now and then those same Insta accounts and blogs have a mini guilt-trip meltdown and add a random post about the horror of their life as a parent and how they choose to ‘edit’ their blogs into their happy places. See, even the pretty people can’t seem to stop adding their washing to the online.
But there’s a balance, I think. It’s an ‘overall’ balance that no single person can achieve. The online community needs each other to tell the whole parenting story. Some people are very public about the things that go wrong in life and want to tell you about it over a cuppa. Others are more private and want to show you their smiling photo album. That’s just the way people are and keeping it real online means that both kinds of updates are ‘real’. So while we’ve got our Constances talking about the hard-grub side of parenting, we also need the picture-perfect mums reminding us about the other.
Really good stuff happens when you’re parenting and it’s not showing off or sugar-coating life to acknowledge that fact. In fact, parenting is bloody awesome. It’s purpose and joy and hope rolled into a sticky hug that leaves fingerprints all over the walls. It’s getting to live with people who aren’t jaded, fed up, judgey or cynical. Parenting is feeling wise when you help with the homework and needed when your kisses take away hurt.
It’s also feeling deep satisfaction when you hang the washing on the line in a perfectly colour-coordinated rainbow and your kid pegs in the last peg so you Instagram the shit out of that moment because sometimes parenting can be very photogenic. Sharing moments like these isn’t being unrealistic or covering up the negatives of parenting. It’s just a moment.
We talk about the ‘warts and all’ of being ourselves online, being ‘authentic’, but we forget that the ‘warts’ are one part of things and the ‘all’ is quite another. Parenting is like that: a moment of sheer hell and lots and lots of moment of Insta-worthy bliss. Whatever part of their life people decide to talk about online is entirely up to them. I won’t judge them for being ‘inauthentic’ just because they don’t walk out of their house wearing their pyjamas. I won’t judge them for only wanting to share online their public face, not their private details. Why should online be any more ‘authentic’ than life?
People online are just people. Wearing 10 year old leggings with a hole in the crotch around the house one minute and fully made up in designer gear the next. I don’t expect to see most people out in public in their holey pants, so they shouldn’t feel bad about only photographing their designer duds for their Insta account. We show what we want to show, both online and in life.
We all present ourselves to the world in the way that makes us feel most comfortable, so don’t fret about the edited story that you’re telling online. Whether you edit for laughs, or you edit for empathy, or you simply edit for the pretty, I get that it’s your way, it’s your thing. Be okay with your editing style. In other words, keep it real.
Do you ever question how ‘real’ you are online? And do you think that’s kinda strange?