A month or two ago, I posted this photo of Pickle and I on Instagram, raving about our new teething necklace from Fox’s Felts (FYI, they’re amazing if you have a teething little one on your hands)
We look happy, don’t we? Instagram followers seemed to think so too.
The company regrammed the photo and it got 52 ‘Likes’. ‘Likes’ from people we have never met, people that we don’t know.
What this photo didn’t show is that 15 minutes before it was taken, Pickle and I were both in tears. She was exhausted and WOULD NOT nap. I was at my wits end trying to calm her down, feeling like an utter failure for being unable to comfort my own baby. Tears ran quietly down my face as I rocked her back and forth as I had been doing for over an hour, pleading with her to stop crying; trying to explain if she just slept she’d feel better. It was one of the worst mornings we had ever had. In the end, we abandoned the hope of sleep and I took some photos, posting this one online.
So, psychoanalysis time; why did I do that? I was having a horrid time, so why did I want to make the world of social media think things were so honky- dory when actually I wanted to curl up under the covers and weep whilst eating a family sized bag of cheesy Wotsits?
After sitting down and thinking about it, there were a few reasons:
- It made me feel a bit better- By taking the photo and looking half human, I started to FEEL half human. It seemed to break that cycle of doom-and-gloom, ‘this-is-never-going-to-get-better’ style thinking. I’m not saying this reaction is healthy, but it has become a habit.
- I am not very good at feeling like I haven’t succeeded at something. Cards on the table time- I am terrible at ‘failing’. It makes me feel like the world is ending (yes, having a child has made me address this BIG TIME, but I still get lapses). In that moment, I needed to feel like I wasn’t failing.
- It was a distraction- it felt like I was having an online mini-break holiday from the hellish situation I’d found myself in.
- The ‘Likes’ from complete strangers made me feel like I wasn’t crap at being a parent. Again, I am in no way condoning this as being a healthy reaction. But with sleep deprivation, I really was clutching at straws.
Now, when I posted this photo, I threw another tit-bit of fodder to the bastard online monster of photos, NetMums articles, Viral Facebook posts etc that champion how idyllic and easy it is to be the perfect parent. You only have to look on Pinterest to see that these days, babies nurseries should have their own interior design teams complete with whimsical theme and colour co-ordinated details. Like a 6 week old is going to give a s*it about a yellow chevron rug matching a retro 70’s style light shade. But that’s exactly what Pickle has in her room, because I thought it mattered. I thought that caring about details like these made me a better mum. Because social media said so; “Social media made me do it, Miss…”
When I’m having a crappy day, it’s easy to scroll through Facebook and see everyone else having a super-dooper bloody time on their beach picnics, campervan adventures and kitsch barbecues in their immaculate sodding gardens, whilst I wade through puke and roll through massive dog poos with the pram in the pissing rain. But then I remember what I post on social media- I don’t post photos of the epic 4am turd explosion that took out a whole sleep suit and vest, the time I cried in the middle of town because she just wouldn’t sleep no matter what I did, or the episode where I carried her in nothing more than a nappy through a pub because she’d weed on EVERYTHING she was wearing AND her spare baby grow. I post photos like the one above. Or at a push, Pickle covered in yogurt, but in an ever so cute ‘mucky pup’ way, rather than ‘this behaviour is sending my washing machine into meltdown and I want to cry’ way. So maybe, just maybe, other people are life- editing like I am. And we are all having bloody awful episodes amongst the Instagram filters, and the ‘Likes’, and picture perfect days.
This ‘being a parent’ thing is bloody tough sometimes and I’m not doing myself or anyone else any favours by pretending otherwise. Maybe Facebook should be renamed ‘Fake’book, and we should create ‘I’m-so-tired-I-want-to-vomit-and-I-have-wee-on-me’book for our honest revelations.
So, with you guys as my witnesses, I hereby swear to stop being a tit and only posting the rosy side of mum-ing. Scouts honour.