I’m a millennial. Of course I overshare on social media. And what calls for oversharing more than the holidays with your children? If my Facebook feed is any indication, we all do it. Adorable, perfectly curated photo albums of our kids ripping open presents. Pristine surroundings and family dinners. Sometimes, when I flip through Facebook and look at everyone’s perfect holidays, I feel less-than. How could I not? Their kids are so well behaved. Their houses are so clean. Then it hits me, I’m perpetuating the same lie. It’s not conscious, I’m not trying to hold myself up as the portrait of perfect motherhood. But am I selectively posting only the best and brightest moments? Absolutely.
In the interest of transparency, let’s take a look at what I shared on social media in the past 24 hours of Hannukah and Christmas, versus the reality of the situation.
Lighting the Hannukiah
The greatest weapon in my faux pro mom arsenal, the throwback. Yesterday I opted to celebrate the first night of Hannukah with a repost of my adorable baby girl playing with our Hannukiah during her very first holiday season. Which, in itself, is selective posting. She broke that Hannukiah two seconds after I snapped the shot, and clearly had absolutely no concept of the holidays in any way.
The reality is, I didn’t have a flattering, current, photo to share. My partner is admittedly not a pro photographer, so nearly every single social media photo featuring myself with my family is a selfie. I burned my hand lighting the the candles, and made this face. Not flattering. Not super mom enough. It didn’t make the cut.
Subtle Gift Bragging
Of course I Instagramed this. Of course! It was the perfect Hannukah gift. It shows I have people who care about me. I’m included in the frame just enough, but not so much as to fall into the “unnecessary selfie” category. There’s also the implication that I’m A. still cool enough to maintain a connection to, and interest in, the subcultures of my youth and B. I’m actually capable of sitting down and reading a book.
In reality, the gift giving portion of the evening was less about me opening a series of thoughtful, personalized gifts and more about me silently cursing my father for giving the kids harmonicas. Not glamorous, bad lighting, loud kids. Loud kids that will, in all honesty, prevent me from ever actually reading my Instagram friendly book.
Highly Instagramable Christmas Jammies. Again, none of this was a conscious effort to misrepresent anything, but looking at it now, it’s so obvious. Matching mother and daughter outfits. On trend theme. Just the right amount of girl power and geek culture.
The reality was a little less glamorous. I subtly glossed over half our family in my Christmas Jammies post. The boys matched too. They had adorable teenage mutant Ninja turtles PJs. But my partner had errands to run, and didn’t put his on. My son was overtired and cranky, and his pyjamas were slightly too small and made him cry. Bad lighting, no smiles. My daughter lasted about an hour in our matching PJs before announcing it was too hot and uncomfortable, and taking them back off.
My social media day kicked off with my little girl smiling wide, in her brand new outfit delivered by Santa. She looks adorable. She’s wearing earrings shaped like french fries, her first big statement earrings since her piercings recently healed. You can feel how grown up she feels, how happy she is for it to be Christmas. This is what Christmas morning is all about.
Christmas morning was not actually morning. I tucked the kids in around 7pm last night. The little guy cried before bed, scared of Santa. Unsure of what to do, I gave him a spritz of “Santa Repellent” and finally got him to sleep. My son started his day at 11pm. I hadn’t been to bed yet. Santa had already arrived, and he instantly dissolved into tantrums insisting on opening his gifts. I placated him with a stocking. I finally got him back to sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning, and of course, his sister then woke up at 4 am. Placated her with a stocking too. By the time they started ripping open presents, the sun hadn’t risen. I was running on an hour of sleep and was literally sleeping sitting up while they opened their gifts. My son was conspicuously absent from the Christmas morning photos. His pants disappeared at some point, revealing my three year old still wears night time pull ups. He was parked on the floor that could use a good sweep, surrounded by toys and wrapping paper. Not super mom social media material.
Santa brought all new bedding. Social media friendly bedding. My daughter is beaming in her brand new outfit, sprawled out on her brand new bedding. Christmas themed blankie, dove grey sheets, even a sleepy kitten on her pillow case. It’s like the holy Trinity of mom pics.
My son’s bed photo went unshared. Insta-friendly bedding, with no insta friendly kid. I made his bed up, and called him in to look at the surprise. Camera at the ready, hoping for a photo op. He took one look at it and ran back out to resume running a train station for Peppa Pig and her family. I also neglected to mention I had zero intention of setting up their beds Christmas morning. I was still asleep sitting up when my daughter finally whined enough to get me up. The cat incessantly jumped between the sheets, making me stop and start in an increasingly frustrated manner. You may notice I also neglected to show anything but the bedding in each photo. Cropping counts as house keeping. The kids share a room, and an avalanche of toys sprawled out does not make a pretty Facebook post at all.
It’s only quarter to 11am Christmas day. Tonight will be just the second night of Hannukah. And I’ve already selectively shared the magic of the holidays. It’s human nature. We want to show the best sides of ourselves. When you’re pregnant or parenting, suddenly it becomes crucially important to appear as though you’re a perfect mother. I can’t imagine anything more upsetting to me than being perceived as a bad parent. Even for parents like myself who portray an alternative image, a laid back parenting style, I know I am absolutely guilty of curating that image publicly.
I know I’ll keep sharing those hilarious hannukah cards, and adorable snap shots. They’re real moments, from a calculated angle. But I believe it’s important to take this moment for reality. It’s important to lift the veil every now and then. Because I know I’m not alone. I know not to hold myself up to the Pinterest moms of the world. And you shouldn’t either. Because for every Instagram filter over a smiling face and handmade gift, there’s a sleep deprived mother. There’s a toddler flopped on the floor in pull ups. There’s an unflattering angle, and lost tempers, and sleepless nights. There’s a mother doing the best she can. Just like you. Just like me.