Before having kids, and even after my first son was born, I had this image in my mind of what our days would be like and what kind of mom I would be. It was incredibly hard for me to see how well other moms seemed to balance everything: fully scheduled days of activities, educational crafts, and cute outfits to boot. That wasn’t me.
I was a mess most days, just trying to cover the basics and make sure everyone was fed. Sure, I’d have my shining moments where the baby would be smiling just right or we managed to make it to the zoo for an afternoon, and I would always make sure to document it on my favorite social media channels as proof. I was afraid to let people into the real parts of my life: the cracker crumbs, messy toy room, toddler tantrums, and spit-up stained clothes that made up the majority of my days. I felt so much pressure to be perfect, and I wasn’t sure anyone wanted to see (or would understand) the less-than-perfect me.
What I didn’t realize was other moms thought I had it all together. To those peering through the “front porch view” of my social media, my days seemed like the ones of my pre-baby dreams. If anyone had dared to walk in through the front door, they would have seen the truth of my struggle.
After my twins were born, things changed big time. It was harder and harder to capture any of those “perfect” moments, and I began to let my guard down and share my struggles with other moms. I found that most moms felt the same way I did: not good enough. They couldn’t keep up and thought they were failing at this motherhood thing in every way possible!
In my personal life, I learned that through openness and a vulnerable heart I was able to lighten the load on my shoulders as I got real with other moms about the hard parts of mothering. I would text my close friends a picture of my messy kitchen or the multiplying piles of laundry and say, “Is this you, too?!” They always replied “YES!”
One day, when my twins were in the full-fledged toddler stage and I was severely pregnant with our fourth child, I snapped a few pictures of the chaos in my house. I was ready to send them off to one of my best friends when I had the idea to share them on Instagram and Facebook instead. It felt a little scary, but I wondered if maybe it would connect with more moms than just my inner circle of trusted friends.
That moment of vulnerability turned out to touch the hearts of lots of moms. I let them see into my true mess, shattered that perfect image for a moment, and reminded them they’re not alone. I’m a real mom too, an imperfect person raising imperfect children but loving it, embracing it, realizing that this is just life. Life is real messes, struggles, and trying again and again. Sure, there are plenty of beautiful moments in there too, but they don’t make up the bulk of my days. There is something so beautiful in letting people see behind the scenes, welcoming them in the front door and saying, “Yeah, me too!” Since then I’ve made an effort to do this regularly. I still share sweet pictures of my kids, but I make sure to sprinkle in “real life” too.
Just a few weeks ago I had a day where everything seemed to go wrong; I woke up two steps behind and never got ahead. At one point I found myself locked out of my car with an angry toddler and a hungry baby. I was about to break down and cry, but I decided to whip out my phone and document the messy moment instead. The baby was spitting up, and my toddler had a wily look in his eye, but it was real motherhood in action.
I shared it on Instagram and let the world see the reality of my #momlife in this not so share-worthy moment. Other moms cheered me on, shared their own stories of days gone wrong, and asked how they could help. Instantly, I felt less alone, and I knew other moms did too. I had opened my heart, and it meant something. It was more than just validation; it was unifying and image-shattering. Motherhood shouldn’t be about how you are doing, but why you are doing it and who you are doing it with.
If you don’t have a tribe of moms nearby, reaching out through social media can be a great way to connect. I encourage you to share your “real life.” Invite people past that beautiful front porch view, and welcome them into the mess inside. It frees you from the impossible standards of perfection you see and lets other moms know they aren’t alone.
If you’re looking for a place to connect, join our community here at Kindred Bravely. Our foundation is built on real moms, encouraging one another to be generous, grateful, and brave in our motherhood journeys. Find us on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. We also have a Facebook group, Kindred Mamas. Come as you are and find yourself among friends.
Be you bravely,