Last week, when I commented on a fellow blogger’s photograph on Instagram, offering my sympathy when her two year old had thrown the mother of all tantrums at the supermarket, she replied, “I don’t know how you cope with four! You make it look so easy!”. And I was astounded that she felt that way, that she had followed my photos for the last two years and failed to noticed the cracks in my smile, the dark rings under my eyes, the gritted teeth and defeated stance. I was surprised that anyone was under the impression that our life with four children was anything other than hectic and crazy and utterly exhausting, and yet I guess the problem we have with social media, is that there is a fine line between what is real, and what is not.
“You put us Mums to shame!”, another Instagram follower recently commented on a couple of baking and craft photos I shared, “I don’t know how you find the time!”. And yet what I failed to share in those posts, because I didn’t feel the need for a running commentary, is that I loathe doing crafts with the children, that as much as they love it, and that should be all that matters, I find it frustrating and stressful and annoying as hell!!
When there’s glue and glitter being flung around my kitchen, when the kids are at each others throats because one of them is hogging the scissors or has used up all the red felt tip pen, when there’s egg shell in the cookie dough, clouds of icing sugar on my black gloss units, snot and tears in the cake mix that I can’t eat even if I wanted to because it’s not gluten bloody free, that’s when I lose my sh*t!!
“Wow your house is spotless! I wish mine looked that tidy!” a fellow Mum of four commented on my photo, a remark which made me, and especially Gaz, laugh out loud. The truth is our house is a bombsite! We spend our lives cleaning and tidying, but it’s like the saying goes, trying to have a clean house with children is like shovelling snow while it’s still snowing!
And so we have become adept at positioning the children infront of the only tidy corner of the house, sweeping aside the toys like a human bulldozer, perfecting our camera angles to avoid the mountain of laundry piled up in the kitchen, the dirty handprints on the windows, the dust gathering on my skirting boards, crumbs, stray socks, scattered Lego (ouch!), and an array of discarded pyjamas. Our home may appear to be in perfect order but, trust me when I tell you, it’s more squatters hovel than show home.
“You look great!” people commented when I shared a photo of Gaz and I at a wedding this month. But what I didn’t share was the weeks I had spent stressing over my outfit, the twenty seven dresses I had ordered and returned, feeling fat and ugly and out of touch with todays fashion. I didn’t share my tears when the beautician waxed off too much of my eyebrow, the hour I spent in the mirror trying to illuminate my dull looking skin with products that cost a fortune and did very little, caking on the under eye concealer and attemting to cover Mount Vesuvius which had erupted on my chin.
You didn’t see the morning I spent in the hairdressers, taming what’s left of my hair into something that doesn’t show my scalp, the full can of hairspray to keep my Troll-like regrowth under wraps, nor the fact that, despite their best efforts, my “do” didn’t transform me into Jessica Alba after all. The “glow” you describe is a greasy forehead, the sparkle in my eye, too much Koppaberg, the fact that I look even half decent, entirely down to a good angle and a kick ass filter.
“It must be lovely that your children get on so well!”, other Mums tell me, admiring my photos where they pose arm in arm, sharing kisses and cuddles, appearing to be the best of friends. What you don’t see are the days when the children are tearing each others hair out, quite literally, when just looking at the other in the wrong way can spark World War three, the screaming and crying and the incessant tale telling, their refusal to share, “I’m not your friend!”, “You’re not coming to my party!”, the moments when I question why anyone in their right mind would have more than one child at all?!
“You must really enjoy being a Mum!” others comment on my photos, and the honest response to that is no, not always. Who loves stinky nappies, screaming children and being shown up in public? Who loves being skint, refereeing bust ups, and scraping Weetabix from the kitchen floor each morning? Who loves waking up to an elbow in their face, a foot in their groin, the snuffly snores of at least one of my four, just millimetres away from my face, night after night, practically hallucinating with exhaustion? Yes I love my children, and God knows I waited a long time for this, but there are parts of parenting that I really didn’t sign up for, and I’ve mentally written my resignation letter on more than one occasion!
“You and Gaz make the perfect couple” people comment, mainly those who aren’t privy to the fact that most of the time we refer to each other as Nob Head, never sharing the terrible things we have said in a sleep deprived rage, the times when I have threatened divorce or fantasised about smothering him in his sleep.
I never mention the fact that he makes me see red by leaving his peanut butter encrusted spoon on the side each morning, wondering why it’s so hard for his tiny little brain to register that the glasses have a place in the cupboard and don’t belong stacked up on the side next to the toaster, that tidying up doesn’t mean just putting everything into a pile and leaving it exactly where you found it…………*and breathe*……
Because the truth is, it’s all a façade, everything you see on social media, none of it’s real, and I’m sorry if I fooled you. I apologise if you believed that my life is every bit as perfect as it appears to be, that you looked at my photos and failed to realise that those beaming smiles and Amaro filtered poses are merely snapshots of our life. And although I pride myself on being honest and truthful on my blog, and I make a conscious effort to share the highs and the lows, I guess that inadvertently I am guilty of not always doing the same on Instagram, not wanting to sully my beautiful feed with a screaming tantrum or a Jeremy Kyle style rant about Gaz and his crusty peanut butter spoon.
And so from now on I vow to share a few more “real” photos in my feed, glimpses of our messy house (well maybe not Clothes Mountain, or the rotting grout in the bathroom, nobody needs to see that….), my greasy hair and 20kg eye bags, snotty noses and teenage tantrums, the imperfect moments that may not be as aesthetically pleasing as my pristinely dressed girls, or Gaz and I dressed up to the nines, but a reminder that not everything we see on Instagram is real.
I’m sorry if I fooled you, but the truth is, you fooled me too.