I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and was further spurred on by a conversation online with a good friend as we fell into a commentary discussion (underneath a Facebook post/photograph if I recall) about how what what we see in our daily lives, especially on social media is rarely if ever the whole story. It is very very easy to compare ourselves and our lives to those around us, even more so when their lives seem picture perfect. Days out, holidays, nights out with friends, family get togethers and all the rest are portrayed in pictures with smiling faces and joyous proclamations. I know, I do it myself and a lot of the time it’s true that we are all having a jolly old time. But not always and rarely 100% of the best times. There is always more than is on show for all the world to see.
We look at other people’s lives and think oh how perfect, aren’t they in love, aren’t their children well behaved, isn’t everything idyllic – I wish I had that many holidays, was that creative with my home decor/children’s craft sessions, was that chilled out with my kids, was that good at baking etc. etc…… Oh how we torture ourselves trying to attain the ideal standard that we have set that is actually unattainable. What am I doing wrong we ask ourselves, why is my life not like that, why can I not cope with taking all my children out on wild excursions into the unknown without worrying about absolutely everything that they will get themselves into let alone the thought of just going shopping or to soft play (don’t get me started on soft play it makes me feel violent!), why is my car full of crap and why does everything in my car/house/everywhere smell of feet and/or poop. Sigh….
I honestly don’t know what the answer to all this is. Maybe we are trying to create the life that we wish we had online or out in public where the fears and doubts don’t have to be displayed for all to see. Maybe we are all striving for perfection in a terrifically unhealthy way. Or conversely maybe it does help us to show the moments where everything appears to be perfect so that we don’t feel totally crap at everything! Who knows. Sometimes I do want to appear that way and other times, like today, I kind of want to out myself and say you know that day that looked perfect? It was fucking shit.
I am thinking in particular back to Mother’s Day, I posted a picture of the lovely breakfast my gorgeous family made me. I posted a picture of the beautiful Pandora bracelet my wonderful husband bought for me. I posted pictures of all of us at the farm park having family fun.
It looked perfect didn’t it? The truth was altogether different as inside I was as heartbroken as I am every year on Mother’s Day albeit better than the previous years which I do draw strength from. I was heartbroken because although I love being a Mum and I love my children and my husband more than life itself I miss my darling Mum and being a Mum without a Mum really sucks sometimes.
Mum died 7 years ago suddenly from a heart attack at 62. She was mine and my sister’s best friend. She was our everything and we adored her more than I know we both have words for. So although I know her memory lives on and deserves much more than her two daughters mourning her loss every year on various auspicious occasions, I’m afraid we can’t quite manage that level of holding-it-togetherness quite yet. I also know this is verging into a different blog for another day so I will halt there regarding dearest Mum suffice to say I was sad, I was angry, I was wracked with guilt over all that and I was taking it out on my family.
I hid in bed in the morning and then decided to try and get my shit together and at least rescue what was left of the day. So we went to the local farm park that we all love and I think I lasted about 10 minutes before I lost all ability to tolerate anything at all. The kids wanted to walk to the troll bridge which was fine, a few minor meltdowns on arrival from big girl who got the troll fear there when she was 3 (she’s 6 now) but peer pressure in the shape of small boy was a wonderful thing. All good so far but then we had to walk back and oh my lordy the whinging “My feet hurt, my little legs are tired, I need a carry, why do we have to walk, it’s not fair….etc” plus fighting with each other over absolutely every little thing you can possibly imagine. Yup there are things that you can find to fight about whilst walking in the countryside in a field, who knew? So…..I lost it. I screamed at them that this was Mother’s DAY the only bloody day of the year that is mine and they were fighting and bickering and RUINING it. Yes I said that. I also said (it gets worse but you knew that right) “Imagine it was your special day and I made you go somewhere that I liked even though you hated it and then I moaned and whined and ruined your special day and made you CRY on top of you already HATING IT!! NEXT YEAR I AM GOING TO THE SPA ON MY OWN AND YOU CAN ALL SOD OFF!! NOW WE ARE GOING HOME!!!”.
Yeah I really said that. I am ashamed (although I didn’t say fuck which I felt redeemed me slightly). It wasn’t just my day after all was it? It was only Mother’s Day because I am their Mum. It wasn’t their fault that my Mum had died and it definitely wasn’t their fault that I wasn’t coping with anything at all. I had forgotten that whilst I may not have my Mum I have a wonderful family and an especially fab Mother in law who knows all too well how I was feeling having lost her Mum too. We all had dinner later and it helped. A lot. Even though I am sure there was further shouting on my part.
So….behind the smiles things were not as they appeared and that certainly wasn’t the first time and I doubt it will be the last. I could put countless idyllic pictures on here and regale you with the stories of what was really happening at the time but I figure you’ve got the gist by now. My life is not perfect. I am not always doing my best to be honest because it’s hard, but I am doing the best I can at the time. I will do better. I will also continue to post pictures of my life – beautiful and not so beautiful, however it unfolds – whilst trying very hard to be aware that not everything I see and compare myself to is real….even my online life 😉