Parenting is an incredibly messy job. It takes strength, courage, and determination to surmount some of the challenges that parents face on a day-to-day basis. Add to it the behemoth undertaking of doing it during a pandemic, and you’ve got a recipe for some seriously burnt-out parents. Though it’s not all doom and gloom, I think there is something many parents can agree on: It’s a tough gig. So why are we constantly being bombarded by images on social media that make parenting, specifically motherhood, look glamorous at all times? It’s anything but. Do you enjoy puke on your shirt? Ok, sure, then parenting is the gig for you! I, for one, am done with this ‘perfect Instagram mom’ stuff.
If you’ve found yourself as a pregnant mama (or expecting father) scrolling the endless newsfeed of perfect-looking families with kids whose outfits are completely matched down to the shoelaces and thought, “Oh how adorable!” Well, you are not alone.
If you then see parents who put perfect-looking meals on the table three times a day (and the kids actually eat it) and thought, “Being a parent looks pretty easy, actually.” Well … again, you’re not alone.
But the reality is far from what is shown on these profiles, in case you need to hear it.
I know I did when I was a new mom. What’s more, is that after the start of a global pandemic and among political upheaval, being a parent is more challenging than ever. If you ask me, these ‘perfect’ accounts either: A) need to go, or B) need to start showing some more honesty.
This picture of perfection is especially toxic to new and vulnerable moms. Let’s not be afraid to show the messy side of motherhood. Let’s normalize the craziness that is Parenting.
Parenting is Meant to be Messy
I happen to love it when friends share the ridiculous moments that happen with their children, social media included. For instance, has your toddler had a meltdown because you wouldn’t let her wear her underwear as a hat in public? Perhaps your child poured an entire bottle of Kefir over her head and thought it was funny? (Yes to both for me.) Well, I could sit and cry over the spilled Kefir as I clean it up, but sharing it with my Instagram friends felt like more of a relief than just cleaning it up in silence. Instead of being annoyed about cleaning, I got to share it and see it from another perspective. It was actually quite hilarious when I took a step back. Messy? You bet. A pain to clean up? Double yep! Fun to talk about with friends? Sure!
The Benefits of Getting Real in Parenting
It Normalizes Failure
I am sorry to break this to you, but you are not a perfect parent. Nobody is! We all have moments of triumph, but they are also often followed by something that may feel like failure.
I saw this quote recently that really hit home:
Parenting isn’t about dominating a little person and making them into who you want them to be. It’s about figuring out who that little person is and helping them become the best that is possible… (@KiaSpeaks via Twitter)
So when your child has a meltdown and you feel a bit like a failure, it might be good to be reminded that all of our kids are going to have these moments. We don’t need to share our child’s personal moments online, but if you are someone who frequently posts about your motherhood journey, maybe throw in a story here and there about your experience of overcoming a #momfail.
It Sets Realistic Expectations
When a ‘Momfluencer’ is constantly posting perfect photoshoots of her perfect family, this sets a very unrealistic idea of what parenting is all about. These moments, while they are very special, are not going to make a new mom feel empowered. Being a mom is grueling. It is nice to see some accounts that show the real and messy side of motherhood. They do exist, but they are not as ubiquitous as those very clean, tailored, “mom life is amazing 24/7” accounts.
It Sparks Genuine Conversation Among Parents
This is a big one for me. I remember as a new mom feeling isolated because it seemed that everyone around me was having a very lovely time with their baby. And sure, some women truly were, and I have no hard feelings toward those mothers.
However, I would have loved to have seen some messier moments. “Oh…you have a colicky baby too? Thank you for sharing that! Any remedies working well for you over there? Let’s share tips.” — Sharing those harder moments can spark some genuine conversation.