I love this picture
It’s a great resemblance of the distorted “perfections” we see every day on social media. This picture is enough to make any parent, who is struggling in their current moment, envious of a beautiful summer day they could not enjoy themselves with their own children. It’s the perfect picture, a new mom with her adorable infant in a popsicle bathing suit and tiny summer hat, wading out into a beautifully scenic lake view. The mother is smiling, and even though we can not see the baby’s face, we assume that she is enjoying herself. It’s an invitation for the inevitable “Fear of Missing Out,” or otherwise known as FOMO. Especially for a mom, who’s hiding in a bathroom, that hasn’t been cleaned in weeks. A mom who is ignoring the screaming kids outside of her door, attempting to find a moment of sanity by scrolling through her phone. ‘Must be nice to be a mom who has it all together,’ she may think to herself.
As jealousy prickles through her, the realities of the photo go unnoticed.
What the photo doesn’t say is that it had been a long, exhausting week. I had showered for the first time in three days and my incredibly adorable baby in her popsicle bathing suit had been extremely cranky. So, when beach day came, I was worn thin. My back, knees, and arms were aching from caring her around for multiple days and I was tired from lack of sleep. I was incredibly irritable from being isolated. The thought of having to squeeze into a swim suit resurfaced my ongoing frustration with my postpartum body issues.
Determined to feel the outside air, I settled on a pair of yoga capris that were too tight and a loose-fitting tank top. I wrestled the tiny popsicle bathing suit onto my squirming infant. I then fought with her to get her into the car seat, and listened to her cry the whole fifteen minutes to the wrong lake. She cried for another ten minutes to the right lake.
We found a shaded spot under a tree where I sat her up on a beach towel. Her attention was drawn to a Nuk I found resting at the bottom of the diaper bag. For a moment, her wails stopped. She played with it and was distracted enough for me to put on her lotion and sun hat without incident. The cool breeze hits us and for the first time that day I took a break from the chaos and looked up. The water was beautiful, the breeze was cool, and there was a perfect amount of overcast to block the beaming sun. I looked down at my giggling baby and I took a deep breath.
We were only there for ten minutes before we had to pack up and leave. Baby was not fond of the cold water and it was almost feeding time. For ten minutes we got to enjoy a beautiful moment as a family. Baby got her first Summer Day experience and I got some beautiful pictures out of it. Pictures that tell a deeper story than what is seen at first glance.
The saying goes that “pictures say a thousand words,” but honestly, they don’t say enough. They don’t talk about the broken pieces of the day. They only capture the highlighted moments. It’s true that the reality of life should be portrayed a little more on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We should all bring to light certain topics that are difficult to discuss, and social media is the perfect platform to do that. So yes, a picture of a mom and her baby enjoying a summer day doesn’t depict a typical day in motherhood. It depicts a rare moment in a typical day. A moment where the chaos stops. We should post more shower-less selfies and unwashed piles of endless laundry. We should show off our spit up stained shirts and our messy houses. We should also enjoy the moments in between.
So next time you’re a mama, threads away from losing it, frustrated because you think you’re the only one who doesn’t have it all together, try not to focus on just the picture. Just because some mama’s don’t discuss their melt downs on social media, doesn’t mean they are not having them. Pictures are frozen moments right before or after tantrums, screaming fits, panic attacks and arguments. Sometimes we just like to highlight the good moments that make all the other rough one’s worth it.