Instagram is fun for scrolling through photos of great places, delicious looking plates and, especially, of our friends enjoying life…until we start comparing. Then, it can spiral us into depression fast.
It always seems as if others have these fabulous lives while we sit like lumps on our couches unable to even decide where to get takeout for dinner.
But, remember, we don’t see what goes on behind the scenes to get those enviable shots.
One woman took to Facebook to remind us of this very fact. Jen Flint, artist and mother of six, went to the pool where she witnessed a scenario that made her think about the illusion of the Instagrammable life. Her recount of the events went viral.
While Flint looked on, another mother posed her daughter for a picture she planned to post to social media. After getting the perfect shot, the mom took a phone call. Her daughter begged her to go swimming, but her mother continued with the phone call and ignored her child’s pleas.
Mother and daughter had arrived at the pool in matching swimsuits.
Yesterday while at the pool I watched a young Mama and her little daughter enter the pool area dressed in very nice coordinating swimming suits.
The mom, with her perfect loose curls tied up in a coordinating scarf, spent the first few minutes talking loudly on her phone to a friend while her daughter stood waiting to get into the pool. Mom ended the phone call and proceeded to spread out pool toys and sunscreen on a matching towel.
Then after finding just the right angle and the right light, Mama pulled out her tripod and took a few selfies with her daughter. Little One asked to get in the pool. Mama said wait and then posed her daughter in front the pool, then going in to the pool and then coming back out of the pool.
The mother set the stage with towels, sunscreen and pool toys. Then she took some selfies with her child. Photo shoot over, the mom hopped on the phone, paying no attention to her daughter who now wanted to play with her in the pool.
Little one smiled big and said “cheese” like she’d done it a million times. Then Mama told her she could play. Little One walked in and swam around for a couple of minutes. Mama called a friend on her phone and began another conversation while Little One politely and repeatedly asked “Mama, can you come in the water with me, please?” She was ignored. “Mama, come play with me?” she asked 4 more times. Mama glanced over at her but never got off the phone. After 10 minutes Mama ended her call, collected the sunscreen that was never applied, the water toys that never touched the water, and then her daughter and left the pool.
Only a few minutes after taking the photos, the mother packed up all the toys, towels and sunscreen, and left the pool with daughter in tow.
I sat there thinking about what I’d witnessed for awhile afterwards. I imagined the photos she took being perfectly edited and posted to social media with a caption like “Pool time with my girly! #Makingmemories“.
Somewhere another Mama is going to be at home with her children, the house a mess from their play, her hair unruly from a day of mothering and her clothes dirty with spit up or peanut butter. She’s going to be tired because she’s spent her day cooking, caring, cleaning and playing with her children. She’s going to look at that photo and she is going to compare herself to the perfect Mama at the pool. The Adversary is going to whisper into her ear “you aren’t good enough… You don’t look like that Mama at the pool… You don’t have money to buy expensive swimming suits like that and you don’t have time to make memories like she is” and that young Mama is going to believe it. She’s going to feel like a failure. Ugh!! She’ll never know that how she spent her time that day was so much better in God’s eyes and in her children’s eyes than that “perfect Mama” at the pool.
What bothered Flint the most was the photo that would be posted on line was exactly the type that would make other mothers feel inadequate in comparison. We tend to create our own stories about what we see in other people’s lives. We can also become obsessed on how we present our lives on social media.
What we see on Social Media isn’t always real. Sometimes and often it’s a complete set-up. It’s staged and filtered and it’s counterfeit.
Sometimes we do see absolutely real photos of vacations and beautiful homes and freshly done hair but it’s only ONE moment. It’s the very best moment out of a whole day spent much like our own. Working, cleaning, and messes…
Perfect moments are fast and fleeting and happen between the natural and real messiness of life.
Mamas, don’t compare yourself. You ARE enough! You are amazing and the very best part is that you are REAL! Your dirty shirt and your messy house and your happy children are real and they are proof that you are doing it right!
Flint ended her post with the message that mothers should resist the urge to compare and to remember Instagram moments are rarely reality. Being a real mother is a rewarding life.
We don’t need Instagram likes and comments to tell us that.