If you spend much time on the Internet, you might start to get some false ideas about people and their lives. And I don’t just mean in the way that the nice young lady from Iowa that you’re chatting with about breastfeeding is actually a burly, hairy, shirtless man. (Although that totally happens, y’all. I watch Lifetime.) I’m talking about the way we showcase our lives through social media.
I’m just as guilty of it as the next person, uploading photos of all the cute ‘lil crafts we’re doing at home, Instagrammin’ the fun little outings we take, and Tweeting the adorable things they say. And that’s all well and good, except when you realize you forgot to Instagram the anger on your face when your preschooler screamed and slapped you. And you somehow missed Tweeting that your kids are still in their jammies at 5pm – not because you’re having an “Awesome PJ Day!” but because you just don’t have the energy to make anyone look their best today (By 2pm, what’s the point?). Did you see this video of my kids rolling on the floor under the table and refusing to eat their food at our nice Sunday dinner at a restaurant last week? Oh yeah, I must have forgotten to put that one up…
I get it, I promise you! I want people to see that we do have fun at home but seriously? There’s a lot of screaming, crying, and whining, too. My two year old has an irritating habit of slapping my arm and saying “No, YOU stop it!” and my 4 year old spends way too much time playing on the iPad. I tend to yell rather than calmly communicate my needs and wishes when I’m at the end of my rope. Am I proud of this? Of course not. And because I’m not proud of it, I go out of my way to show you how great things are, usually with careful cropping and filters. Some days it looks like I’m trying to act out my entire Pinterest feed — Look at these awesome healthy snacks! Did you see this fabulous artwork I made from kitchen trash? I made an educational and entertaining game using only shoelaces and glitter!
*whew* It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
Look. I’m not saying we need to glamorize the ways we daily fall short. I don’t mean to suggest that you start cataloging your every “Mommy Fail” to prove that you’re imperfect. I’m just saying it’s okay to let your guard down and let others see that you’re human. Sometimes those little glimpses into another mom’s life can help you feel normal – not superior or inferior, just normal. Real.
Today’s Reality Challenge is to take your kids somewhere (in public) that they tend to misbehave or act in ways that makes you feel embarrassed by their behavior (Grocery store? Restaurant?) and just let them be themselves. Don’t let them do anything dangerous, please don’t try to get yourselves kicked out of a store, I just want you to let them be kids and not lose your cool. Try not to give apologetic looks to other people, don’t worry about what people are going to say about the mom with the crazy kids, just remain calm and enjoy the freedom of being real.
Editing for clarity’s sake: Is there a normal child behavior that makes you really stressed when out in public? Something that you know isn’t a big deal but it makes you paranoid? Today’s Reality Challenge is to work on our reaction to that behavior. This isn’t about letting your kids be wild or engage in unusual, bad behavior. This is about controlling your gut instinct to panic when your child speaks louder than normal or unexpectedly goes bolting down the aisle of the store. Do what you need to do to control the situation (please!), just don’t let it make you feel like a bad mom.
Maybe you don’t have a choice and your kids will be going with you wherever you go and you’re past the point of being embarrassed. Try the Super Challenge: Take a photo (or video!) of the moment when stuff has gotten real at your house (the tantrum, the blur of your children running away from you when they’re supposed to be having a quiet rest time, or something similar that you wouldn’t want others to witness) and share it with someone who hasn’t seen that side of your life yet.
Please join me on The Reality Challenge and share these posts with your friends! Leave a comment telling me you’re in on the challenge and what you did! Sign up for Reality Check, a free email newsletter with two more weeks of Reality Challenge actions!