Hey Mamas, have you seen the Instagram #iamnotabigdeal phenomenon? It’s a movement gaining momentum where we remind one another that our Insta life is NOT our reality! You know that gorgeous pic of your girlfriend who has six kids and she’s impeccably dressed with salon-worthy hair, flawless makeup, and looks ridiculously, peacefully calm and collected and you wonder…dayum, how does she do it? Then you look at yourself in your trackies with spew all over you, your kids breakfast matted in your hair (which you haven’t washed in a week), and makeup? What’s that?!?! Meanwhile you can’t even contain your one and only child who is running riot, trashing your house and you think….wow, I wish I had her life. Well, this hashtag is to remind us that all is not what it seams! Not that the pics we post are in any way wrong, or that we should stop, but just to remind ourselves that life is real baby. I have so many friends who tell me that they are giving up Instagram, or deleting their Facebook account because it just makes them feel so bad about their own life. Social media can have significant power, but it’s up to us to take responsibility for that, and we are the ones who choose to let it affect us, in either a positive or negative way.
I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum and I can tell you, it’s much healthier and freeing looking at the pics of the stunning super mum friends knowing the reality behind the moments. A few years ago I really fell for the whole ‘look at her perfect life, I feel crap about myself’ lie. I would see these beautiful photos of other stunning mamas who had their home in pristine order, their kids on perfect routines, perfectly disciplined, perfect little angels, perfect marriages, perfect family life, perfect work/life balance etc etc etc. You get the gist. I saw their photos, their Facebook status’ and the more I stewed over it the worse I felt about my life.
Back then I simply decided to remind myself that these perfect pictures weren’t these lovely ladies realities. Because we all know that they’re not! We know that our own snapshot is just a millisecond of the reality of the moment, and hey, maybe we all just happened to be smiling at the same time for once (come on, we all know how impossible that is!). Once I changed my perception of social media, it gave me so much freedom to not condemn myself or put myself down or make myself all depressed at how crap my life was compared to all of these ‘perfect people.’ It gave me joy to jump on Facebook and catch up on the lives of my friends and feel genuinely happy for them in all areas of their life. It’s not about judging one another (or ourselves) based on social media, and it’s not about being jealous of what we don’t have – it’s about finding the freedom, joy, security and confidence outside of it all and within our own off-screen reality.
Through the process it eventually dawned on me…oh no…what if other girls are looking at MY social media and thinking the same thing about ME? The horrifying thought made me feel terrible realising that I could possibly make someone else feel as bad about themselves as I did about myself when I saw these other friends ‘perfect’ life. But on the surface level I didn’t change anything about the things I posted or the pics I put up, because I realised that it’s all about perception – and the power of perception lies within us as the viewer. For myself viewing other people’s Facebook lives or Insta feeds, it was my responsibility to change my perception of how I viewed these tiny snapshots of someone’s so called life. It’s not about throwing the baby out with the bath water – cutting ourselves off from social media completely or deleting our accounts isn’t going to solve anything, the issue is in our hearts and minds and is rooted deep down in our perception. It’s also not about us all putting an end to posting the ‘nice, happy family pics.’ To be honest, I want to see you all glammed up, because when I have a grasp on the reality behind the stunning photo I can think to myself, well if she can look that amazing despite her curcumstances and everything going on in her life, then there’s hope for me too! I want to see the happy, smiling, laughing pics of your kids, because I know that you suffer all of the other emotions throughout the day also. I want to see the beautiful holiday you are on, because I know you deserve it after everything you are going through in real life. I want to see you encouraging and honouring your husband because I know the struggles you guys have worked through. If Facebook was full of ‘real life’ then I would probably delete my account because I don’t want to be depressed and discouraged every time I look at my feed, ha! I’m trying to escape my reality for a few briefs minutes during the chaos of the day, SHOW ME THE HAPPY PLACE!
And the funny thing is, I have found out so many truths about these ‘perfect mothers’ since changing my perception as a viewer. Actually, she doesn’t have a perfect life! Actually, she is struggling majorly in this area and this area. Actually, her kid throws major tantrums and isn’t the angel depicted on Facebook. Actually, she suffers with this illness or this health problem.
Actually…she is REAL. She is just as real as you and me. No more, no less, we are all in this together.
So, I’m about to make you feel really, really ridiculously good about yourself if you read on. Here is my post I did on Instagram to put my life in perspective for you. And I can guarantee you will never look at the picture on this blog the same ever again!
– Most of the time I feel like a massive failure as a mother. Hopefully I will overcome this one day as God does his work in me and as I listen to the enemies lies less and less, but 75% of the time I feel like I’m doing more damage to my kids than good. I know this isn’t true, but its how I feel some days.
– My kids can throw tantrums. Good ones. Tantrums that rival the Exorcist.
– I get through my days with three things…coffee (in the morning), chocolate (in the afternoon) and wine (a glass at 5pm. Sometimes earlier. Sometimes more.)
– I have a stash of sneaky chocolate that gets me through most days.
– My house gets trashed on a daily basis. I am an anal, neat freak, perfectionist, so that’s saying something. I learned to just let go and let them make mess and have fun. I’ve learnt that it takes about five minutes to tidy a messy room at the end of the day, so it’s really not that big of a deal if it means my kids having fun all day with their toys.
– The other day I had such a bad day that I sat down in the afternoon with a plate of cake and ate about an entire third of it because I felt like crap. And to make myself feel less guilty about eating 1/3 of a cake I forced my kids to eat some too so that I technically didn’t eat the whole thing by myself. Seriously, who does that, WHO?!?! No you can’t have the fruit you’re asking for, come here and eat the freaking cake so mummy doesn’t feel like a gluttonous pig.
– My poor husband cops it when I’m stressed or feeling crap about myself. I let it out on him when all the pressure builds up inside of me and explodes out.
– I’ve suffered from depression since I was a teenager.
– And anxiety. Yesterday I was so overwhelmed that I literally walked out the front door and didn’t come back for two hours. (Don’t call the services just yet, my husband was at home with the the kids). I didn’t even have shoes on. I was a barefoot nomad walking the streets in the rain having an anxiety attack. You should have seen the colour of the water after I washed my feet in the bath when I got home.
– I’ve had Post Natal Depression since having Everly. And then I feel guilty for that. It’s a vicious cycle baby.
– I feel like I have nothing to show for my life. The teenage me who had so many amazing dreams and desires would be so disappointed (actually, disgusted) in the 32 year old I have become.
And this pic of me and my kids? Where do I begin?!?!?!….
– I hate this entire picture of me. I hate that my thighs don’t touch in the middle, I look at photos of myself like this one and think I look like I’ve been riding a horse for a week.
– And speaking about our bodies, I’m learning to love mine again after having babies…
– My boobs are gone forever from breastfeeding a total of 3 years already (and I want more kids, so can you imagine when my boobs are finally retired? *shudder*).
– I can no longer wear v-neck tops because my ‘cleavage’ resembles a tunnel that a semi-trailer could drive through….and then two deflated fried eggs on either side that hang so far south I could hide my credit cards and cash under them and do away with my purse forever.
– Since having two kids my belly button is completely ruined. I kid you not, it is actually not even in the middle of my stomach anymore, it sits to the left a good couple of centimetres and looks like something from a freak show.
– My butt is so saggy and flat it looks like a sad frown :( And I have a sad frown when I think about it. But right now the thought of doing squats makes me even sadder, so I’ll just deal with it and get butt implants one day. No, not really.
– Up until recently I didn’t like showing my teeth when I smiled in photos (like this one) because I thought my teeth were too big. When someone is taking a picture of me I feel like I have a huge smile on my face (albeit with my lips closed) but later realise I look like a grumpy bitch with an attitude problem. So now I smile with my teeth…and I actually like my big teeth now!
– This picture isn’t even real. Hugo’s face was photoshopped in. Oh, the ordeal of this photo shoot I tell ya! We must have taken a bazillion shots…and Hugo was only smiling in one of them. ONE. The remainder of this shoot was him throwing a tantrum because he didn’t want to have a photo taken (story of my life). And this picture of Everly is probably one of only a few where she wasn’t crying because Hugo was being so loud in his protest.
– I wanted to re-do the shoot but we were scarred for life from the experience and there was no way in hell we were going to set up the studio again let alone re-do my hair and make up. This pic can stay until I need to add another little person.
Gives it all a bit of perspective doesn’t it! But hey, like my mantra says…REAL WOMEN!!! REAL LIFE!!!! And the point of it all is this…we have a REAL GOD who not just sees and knows all this, but he is the grace, the love, the truth, the strength, the joy, the power in all of this! His mercies are new every day, every hour, every moment, every second! And you know what? Despite all that you have just read above about me…I love it! I love my kids more than anything in the whole world and I absolutely love the amazing people they are becoming and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love my husband and love our marriage and our teamwork. I am super excited about life and our future and all of the visions and dreams and desires I have locked away in my heart. Life is GOOD! Life is THRILLING! Life is EXCITING! And I can say all this amidst the everyday reality because I have an amazing God who brings life and life in abundance. He pours out his joy, his grace and his love into me every day so that I can stock up and overflow even when I don’t have anything left in me. He refreshes and restores me, he renews and reinvigorates me. I couldn’t do it without him and I don’t know how other people do! I am a real woman, living a very real life and I have a real God. I encourage you to join the #iamnotabigdeal movement and give us some encouragement with a reality check of your life!
Love you all you beautiful mamas.
You’re doing an amazing job.