I look at this photograph and smile. It was the perfect shot to use for Chief and Munch’s joint birthday party invitations a few years ago. They were both happy and smiling so I grabbed the camera and boom! Got it. Except that it didn’t happen like that. At all. This was actually take two. The first time around they had spontaneously got some dressing up bits out to play with and I did genuinely grab the camera thinking that I could get a good photo for their party invites. Then I made a huge error. Massive. I interrupted their play and asked them to sit still for a moment. The resulting photo was this one.
Not quite fit for purpose (although I was so tempted to send it out with the tagline “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”). Now, fortunately, they find it funny, but at the time being asked to sit for a photo was anything but.
Do you ever look over at other people and think that they are more adult than you? Or have this parenting lark down to a fine art? I know I do. The thing is though, sometimes we see what we want to see, and other times we see what other people want us to see. We don’t see the behind the scenes episodes that must happen to everyone privately whilst publicly we share beautiful images and stunning smiles.
Here’s another moment of mine. We were away on holiday and I took Munch to help choose my husband a birthday cake (baking one in an alien oven did not appeal). He chose a lovely cake with a Welsh dragon on it (we were in Anglesey so it seemed like a great choice) and he found it quickly. He then had a close up moment with the floor when I suggested we go and pay for it. After much persuasion it turned out that he thought we were having an afternoon shopping (in a national chain supermarket, whilst on holiday…hmmm) and he wanted to peruse some more aisles before heading back to the car.
This topic is covered time and time again on the internet, indeed I touched on it a couple of years ago when writing on another blog, but the number of posts about it demonstrates how important it is. That is, the difference between what we project onto social media (in particular) versus our real life.
You can search online for articles such as this one, where I seek to persuade myself as much as anyone else that everyone has good and bad days, that we all have moments that we would rather forget and periods when finding our ‘game face’ is really flipping difficult. That for every beautiful, perfectly captured photograph we will have several more where someone wasn’t smiling, or the mountain of laundry was edging into shot behind the otherwise minimalist sitting room (that has taken you five years and countless arguments of what stays and what goes to achieve, but that detail will be missed out too). Whilst you search for them though, it is so easy to simultaneously post a photo or a status update delighting in a moment which amongst the chaos seemed perfect – or didn’t but at least came across on camera like that. Don’t get me wrong, if you look at my social media accounts you will largely see the bright, sunny, happy shots too. They’re the ones that I want to remember and, honestly, they’re the ones that I like to share. Generally the captions will be pretty thoughtful and positive too, but that’s not always life.
So, to address the balance, I thought I would share these photos from the other side of the coin as it were. Just by way of a reminder that whatever projections either we or others make, life is life. It is unpredictable, rarely perfect, and not without a share of self doubt. That we make it through some of the tougher days or times unscathed quite frankly can seem like a miracle. But if we can find humour in the days that never seem to end, the ones where we somehow end up covered head to toe in mud, trying to persuade ourselves let alone anyone else that we want to continue with our walk / play date / camping trip rather than crawl home admitting defeat and curling up in our pyjamas with a hot chocolate and a good book, then we are doing alright. Better still, remember that those times can happen to anyone and everyone.
With three lively boys I can almost guarantee that smiling, non blurry group shots are rare. Perhaps that’s what makes me all the more likely to share the good ones!
The Tale of Mummyhood