Picture Perfect vs. Real Life

We all do it, and I think women do it more often. We look at the lives of others through the social media lens, and we make comparisons.

-Look where they went on vacation. I wish I could afford that.
-Wow! They ate at that expensive restaurant. I wish my husband would take me to a place like that.
-How does she work out every day? I would look like that too if I had time to work out as often as she does.
-Look at all the things she gets to do with her kids. I wish I didn’t have to work every day so I could enjoy my kids.
-How does their house look so perfect? It’s always clean and decorated like it should be in a magazine. My laundry has been laying in a pile for 2 weeks, and I don’t know the last time I did dishes.
-Her kids are always so happy, and mine are at each other’s throats most days.

 Literally, I could go on for pages. Have you ever caught yourself with these thoughts?

Yesterday, as I was looking at my traditional Mother’s Day picture taken at church, I knew I would be writing about it. I can’t talk about it if I don’t show it first, though.

Look at us – all smiles. I even have flowers from both of these precious angels. What a sweet moment to cherish for years to come . . . except . . . there’s a story behind this picture, and with my husband’s permission, I would like to share it.

It might be beneficial to add that this was our third attempt to take this picture. The third time’s a charm, right?

As we were getting ready for church, I made sure to mention several times that I wanted to get a picture with the kiddos, and I was excited because the older 2 were going to be at the early service, so I might even be able to get one with all 4 of them!

While I was finishing my hair, my son came in. He was wearing athletic pants, a Minecraft T-shirt, and a hoody, but I decided to leave it alone. I mean, we don’t have to be all dressed “pretty” for Mother’s Day pictures. That’s when I decided to ditch the pretty dress and shoes I had planned to wear, and I chose to go very casual. We could make it look like we planned it that way.

On the way, we talked about our daughter’s shoes that were about 3 sizes too small. I tried not to think about how much I fail at keeping up with their clothes as they grow. Didn’t I just buy her shoes last year? Something happened right as we turned into the parking lot at church. I think it had something to do with the fact that I said kids weren’t staying in the main service but would go to their classes. Whatever it was, the little man was in a mood, and it was rubbing my husband the wrong way, which kind of put him in a mood himself.

That’s okay because my thought was, let’s smile and go take a Mother’s Day picture, and enjoy the service. Everything will be great!

Well, son’s mood went up a level, and he started saying unkind things to his sister. Notice I said unkind. That makes it sound a little better, right? Seriously, though. He was being hateful to her, so I stopped and reminded him that we are supposed to speak with kindness and compassion. Yes, I do remind them of this scripture often. However, I also often fail at following these words myself, and I was almost to that point before ever even walking through the doors.

Let me pause for a moment. If you attend our church, and if you heard Brandy talk about that first scenario of being a proactive vs. reactive parent . . . all of her examples were us that morning. I would like to say it was a planned dramatization of what the service would be about, but instead I have to admit this is life. It’s our life.

I wanted to put my things down before taking the picture. Remember, this picture is very important, so we have to make sure to get it. On the way to the picture station, little man and husband sounded like they were about to battle it out because my husband put his hand on little man’s shoulder. Remember that mood he was in? My husband just wanted to help make “my day” go smoothly, but in doing so, World War 3 almost broke out in the foyer of our church, and I was a mixture of embarrassed and angry and angry for being embarrassed.

Attempt #1 for pictures, we wait in line and finally we were next, but husband was pretty much done and went off to get coffee, so we ended up with no one to take the picture.

After getting him from the coffee line and waiting in the picture line again, we were finally 2nd in line. But then little man, husband, and I start speaking with nothing that resembled kindness or compassion, and both kiddos started crying. So we left the line again, and after quite some time of trying to get the situation under control, I took them to their classes.

Guilty, Guilty, Conviction, Guilty again . . . those were my thoughts as Pastor Jeff and Brandy spoke about parenting. What happened to me as a parent? I can’t keep everything under control anymore. And I didn’t get the stupid picture!

After service, everyone seemed to be in a much better mood, so finally we got a picture! And I proudly posted it on all my social media, and everyone who has seen it sees a sweet and happy family who are so loving to one another. I’m even willing to bet someone looked at it wondering why their kids aren’t happy like that, or some other thing to compare and feel inadequate.

I’m here to say STOP!

Stop looking at the social media pictures and telling yourself that you don’t compare to someone else’s life. Those pictures you are looking at do not prove that you are a bad mom or bad wife or bad housekeeper or don’t have a good enough home or car or life or whatever. Just like that happy picture of my family yesterday – it’s just a picture. It’s just a moment. I don’t have pictures of the tears and moods that led up to that moment.

Be you. Be the best you that you can be because that’s perfect. No matter how imperfect you are, be your own kind of imperfect perfection. There is absolutely no comparison between what you live every day and the moments that are highlighted by your friends on social media.

Everyone has a story. But most of us only tell the happy parts. We all have messes.

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