How many times do you look at social media and think of how great someone else’s life is in comparison to yours? Filled with photos of:
- clean, fashionably dressed, cooperative, smiling children
- families vacationing someplace fabulous
- moms who are home with their kids doing all kinds of creative inspiring activities
- moms who dress great and get promotions because they work hard outside of the home
- dashingly handsome dads who are always around and smiling, helping with said perfect children
- decadent meals that mimic art, plated with the care of a Food Network chef
These photos are what’s constantly popping up in my social media newsfeed.
But what we don’t often see are the raw moments of triumph and painful setbacks. The small victories and the grand disappointments are masked, hidden behind a stream of information that, like the best marketing tools out there, sell us the hope of something more.
Everyone’s reality goes far beyond these moments for a less impressive compilation of events that come together to create a real life, and one most opt not to share with the virtual world.
Who wants to hear about the negative anyhow? Social media is another outlet for our voyeuristic entertainment and no one is entertained by someone else’s whining.
My Facebook Feed vs. My Reality
A real life trip with real life kids:
Vacations are great, but traveling anywhere with kids is a challenge.
The Amazing Matriarch team spent 5 days in New Hampshire; we skied at Waterville Valley, explored Meredith’s Children’s Museum and stayed up late watching chic flicks, chatting and drinking wine. It truly was a fun getaway with friends.
But…I had a severe cold, it was severely cold (-34 on the mountain), and our kids were a bit wild. We suffered multiple public, potty accidents causing us to cut short various excursions. My daughter left the mountain day care sobbing uncontrollably after a kid kicked her 2 year old butt, which kicked my momma butt. And we were discouraged from waiting for a table at a local restaurant when our boys ran in like wild animals.
We had many great moments but this video (which I did not post on social media, but did send to our husbands who were safely working) of our ride up sums up what we felt like doing, and how the kids behaved the majority of the time.
Hosting a party for friends:
This winter we decided to try an adult night on our backyard ice rink (thanks for the idea, Laura!). We kept it very small and it was cool in more ways than one. Our small group of friends made it extra special bringing things like ice shot glasses (thanks, Courtney!) crockpots filled with food, and their hockey sticks. We set up an alcohol packed hot chocolate bar, fire pit and my husband organized a two on two ice hockey tournament. It looks like it was a blast (and for the most part, it was).
What you did not see was that the first decent snowfall of the season fell that day and kept falling until after our party started. It had my hubby shoveling to clear the area so our guests were not knee deep in snow and so that the rink was clear for skating. By the time our guests arrived we were pretty beat from all the prep. My husband did not eat the yummy food or drink the craft beer because he was flat out exhausted.
Our guests enjoyed the party, but we weren’t inspired to try it again because the amount of work involved outweighed the fun we had hosting it.
Out, about and hard at work:
I get to try fun things and often turn them into dates or night’s out with friends because I’m the Boston Local Expert for USA TODAY’s 10best and I write about food, travel, attractions, nightlife, and shopping.
In reality, these things are pretty awesome. But, I spend more money on babysitters and parking than I make in a year. And finding reliable sitters is not simple, especially when the hours I need are inconsistent. When I’m doing these great things, I’m actually working and sometimes that means paying little attention to whomever accompanies me.
And after I’ve enjoyed the perks, the real work begins. At times I have to tell people how something was not right and explain why I won’t be featuring them on my latest list, article, etc. Then, retreat to my computer to write, source photos and research further before putting together a product that I’m proud of.
Kids will be kids, despite my objections:
My kids often look adorable on social media. Those are rare moments. In reality, they often have wild hair and mismatched clothes; my son will only wear sweats and he’s so skinny I can never get any that fit; he won’t wear the ones with the tie waist and he refuses his jeans. My daughter is a fashionista in the making, refusing my coordinated outfits in favor of her quirky combinations. Her hair is wild, and she will rarely let me even brush it; I quit chasing and just let it be to save my sanity. Although I’d prefer they be better dressed and groomed; I pick my battles because I fight them enough in other areas.
My 2 yr old throws tantrums in the middle of Target and screams, “OUCH, you’re hurting me”, at the top of her lungs causing most people to glare at me like I’m evil. She fights me on where she can eat; even crying herself to sleep on the living room floor when I won’t give in.
My 5 year old makes demands, refuses food, and wants my attention at all times. He is active and plays until he’s exhausted then refuses to sleep.
My kids watch too much television:
Posts about the full days of endless crafts that moms are doing with their kids make me crazy. I am not a DIY diva (I leave that to Thia) and I can honestly say I lack creativity and motivation when it comes to crafting. I try from time to time, but after every attempt I swear I’ll leave the crafting in the classroom.
The reality is that if we aren’t outside, on an excursion, at a lesson of some sort, or playing indoors then my kids are watching TV- way too much TV. I swore they never would watch more than 2 hours per day but as we’ve gotten busier, my 2 year old’s gotten, well 2 years old; I’ve gotten tired of coming up with creative ideas and default to the ease of an afternoon movie or marathon of shows more often than I’d care to admit.
My husband is the greatest, and he’s always working:
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you how great of a dad my husband is. He plays, entertains and engages kids in a way I can only dream of. On social media it looks like we’re always doing something wonderful as a family or he’s giving me time for me.
In reality, he works a ton. He travels a lot, often missing days at a time. He’s never seen my daughter’s ballet class and it takes a lot of planning to get him to my son’s school activities. When I need to do something, like see a doctor, I often have to reach out to friends and family for assistance. We’re a one income family and his career is paramount to our financial well being. I’m solo most of the time, and that’s ok.
When he is home, he’s all about us. He often skips his own “me time” to let me escape for a few hours here and there so that when he’s away and my daughter locks herself in the bathroom, the kids are sick, or we have a blizzard I don’t lose my mind.
Selfies and such; you rarely see me in pictures:
That’s because I typically look like this: Rather than this:
I love fashion, accessories, makeup and heels but my day includes getting messy, often downright dirty, from playing outside, doing any art activity my kids choose, or having my clothes used as a cleansing cloth. I’ve learned to only spend time getting myself gussied up when I’m going out-without them.
I wouldn’t want social media to change because in truth, the whining is not what I want to see. My life is real enough. I don’t judge other’s lives based on their posts because I’m sure that their reality is just as real as mine.
-Just one gal living life on and off social media, Jess
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***Author’s note: Jessica spent last week posting as many negative things as she could think of as an experiment on social media. These posts, of real life moments, garnered far fewer responses than the positive, comical moments she usually puts out there. ***