One Monday morning a few weeks back, after rushing to get the two kiddos ready, we turned up at the doctor’s surgery a little after 10am with a bunged up baby and suspected conjunctivitis for the toddler. So all in all a great start to our week. Our surgery operates a daily pool system now, where around 15 patients are asked to come in and wait with the hope that they will be seen within a 40 minute window, done in order of priority.
A scenario like this is something I will always dread, as you never know quite how it is going to go. Asking a baby and a toddler to be civilised for an unknown length of time is pretty much asking the impossible; or at least asking for trouble. This particular morning there was more of a wait than usual, and about 50 minutes after arriving we were called in to see the doctor. That’s almost an hour with two kids under two in a very busy waiting room, and with a toddler who isn’t too keen on nice old men (if you’ve ever been to the docs you’ll know the place is full of them).
Once out of the appointment armed with eye drops for little mister (as IF he’s going to let me near his eyeballs with those), it struck me how we may have appeared to others that morning. Nancy sat quietly in her car seat, gently drifting off to the mundane sounds of a bustling waiting room, and by some complete miracle Dexter sat on my reasonably well-dressed knee pretty much the whole time, being as good as gold whilst reciting things like colours and the alphabet. I even went all singing, all dancing ‘Pinterest Mum’ and sang some nursery rhymes with him for Christ sake! (Granted, I have a very limited collection in my repertoire which I use on repeat). #familygoals, right?
But, as the old adage goes, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’; moments like these are a triumph, but are few and far between. Many a morning things haven’t gone quite so well, with tantrums at breakfast as I juggle two screaming infants whilst they plot to join forces and bring me down. If you don’t believe me, there’s a classic example of one of these times here. We’re all guilty of pre-judgement from time to time though, me included. Whether it be a movie we don’t like the look of, or a mum at play group that you don’t think you’ll have much in common with, it’s important that we give things a chance before cutting ourselves off to an idea/person/thing.
We live in an age where comparing ourselves to our counterparts is almost inevitable, and I have found that motherhood brings a whole new level to this. No longer is it just about how we look or what material possessions we own, but now there’s other things thrown in to the mix, like how good we are at crafts, how well-behaved our child is, or how quickly they hit their developmental milestones. All complete rubbish, of course.
When I left the surgery and this observation of mine hit me, I thought about how together I had just looked, and how false a representation of our daily lives the last hour had been. I also thought about the endless times I had seen a perfectly coiffed mum with her trendy, well-behaved kids, and wished I could be more like her; then I wondered if anyone in the surgery could have possibly thought that about us that day.
So when like me, you see a mother (or father) who has their shit together and is showcasing the most perfect of picture-perfect families and you feel a little envious and inadequate, remember that earlier that day she most likely had vomit down her jumper and a wild toddler running round waving his winkle about whilst the baby threw food at her head. Similarly, you see that scatty family in the corner whose eldest is running round kicking OAPs in the shin whilst the baby is screaming non-stop, and the dishevelled, makeup-less mum is just sitting there in despair dong nothing about it? Well they actually had a really great morning where everything went pretty smoothly, and they sang and played and ate porridge at the kitchen table. The mum is a bloody good mum who tries hard every day to keep her shit together for the sake of her kids, and she’s wishing you had been a fly on the wall in her house earlier that morning and not seeing the chaos that has unfolded in public just now.
Social media is no different. Now I must admit, I do love a pretty picture, and these picture-perfect instaFams give me life! 🙌🏼 There’s totally a place for these gorgeous mums with their gorgeous kids in their gorgeous homes, travelling to gorgeous countries; we’ve had polished images thrown at us by the media for years. However I do get why a lot of people have a problem with them; namely that they are setting an unrealistic example for others. The key is to use social media sensibly, and realise that for every beautiful photo out there, there’s probably a fair few unedited and unflattering ones on the cutting room floor. Plus there’s plenty of people advocating real life, raw, honest images now too, which will always bring you back down to earth with a sick-stained, poo-filled bang.
Personally, I’m a fan of both. I’m always one to keep it very real, but if it’s wrong to enjoy pretty pictures for what they are now, and we can’t have a bit of escapism, then are we even human?
P.S. These photos were taken a few weeks back on Easter weekend. The lighting was so bad and it was windy AF so the photos aren’t really up to much, but we loved the yellow fields. Here’s when you realise you’re not cut out to be one of those polished instafams 😏😉 also not sure if Nancy got the memo that we were supposed to be looking all wistful and contemplative and not like a thumb 😂👍🏼