All summer and into the first day of school, I saw more pictures on Facebook and Instagram of smiling kids and fun vacations and cute moments. Pinterest perfect pictures. They seemed to be almost shouting at me, “Look at how fun and perfect my family is!”
My picture feeds on social media are hit or miss. I sometimes get in the mood and take a dozen pictures when we’re out and about. Other times, there is no digital footprint of our family getaway. When I see the perfect family pictures filling my updates, I often feel the guilt surface that I don’t have enough pictures, that we’re not doing enough fun things, that my kids aren’t happy enough.
A comment from a friend late this summer put it all into perspective. I was on the phone with one of my best friends, the kind of friend who you can stop monitoring what you say and actually be real with. My person I can vent to, and be a little snarky, and be a little sentimental, and be a little whatever-is-in-my-head with. She said it sure looked like another friend of ours was having a perfect summer. Then she added one statement that changed my perspective. “Too bad we know she’s not.”
Facebook and Instagram and other social media is dangerous at times. Because we only see the snapshots that people choose to show us. And really, who posts the picture of their dirty, dusty baseboards that drive them crazy? Or the frozen pizza rolls they are considering lunch for the third day in a row, not because there wasn’t actual time to go to the store, but because they just didn’t want to. Instead, we see the moments that might have been preceded by threats that if the kids didn’t put on a normal smile there would be no ice cream later.
I don’t always, (heck, I don’t often) have the Pinterest perfect pictures of my family events. I didn’t have a slew of summer pictures showing how wonderful our life was. My first day of school pictures, were a lot of camera snapping to get maybe one good picture and a few decent ones. I sometimes forget completely to take a single picture when we’re doing something together.
What I do have, is two boys who both said their favorite part of the summer was being together as a family. I have a husband who tells me every single day that our home is his favorite place in the world to be. I have a son who I stood outside the elementary school with on the first day, smiling and laughing and joking about me being the paparazzi while he held his hand up to my phone so I would stop taking pictures. I have another son whose face lights up the minute I see him in the morning, or at preschool pick up, or at the sitter’s, or almost anywhere. None of this is in a social media picture feed.
Pinterest perfect pictures are not joy. They are a snapshot of a moment that appears happy. It may be, or it may not be. Don’t let those pictures skew your perspective, and make you miss the real in your own life. I almost missed seeing that my little family is so filled with joy. I almost let the lack of pictures, and the hurried schedule, and the dirty baseboards, and the pizza rolls hide the joy that is under all of that. I may not have a picture of it, but I have a family bursting with joy.