the carefully selected, meticulously edited squares we post on instagram are rarely authentic representations of what life looks like with a child at home. many moments are completely staged — the inevitable clutter of toys or laundry pushed out of frame, each stray hair put in its rightful place, sometimes even smiles produced only by bribery.
it is fake, and it is dishonest. and i feel a fool for allowing myself to be caught up in it.
choosing beauty over authenticity again and again, and striving for a perfection i know full well to be unattainable, is not how i wish to capture my little liam’s childhood.
it is precisely my job as his mama to teach him right from wrong, and yet i continue to promote the idea that it’s somehow okay to hide who you really are from the world. to cover up your imperfections, rather than embrace them. essentially, to lie. and i know he’s still young, and i know he doesn’t quite understand my reasoning behind tidying up or trading him a handful of grapes for a photo. but if i don’t stop now, he will learn. he will repeat the same mistakes i’ve been making. and it will be entirely my fault.
fortunately, at this exact moment, none of those
silly things matter to him. he doesn’t mind the dark circles underneath my tired eyes, or the pile of miscellaneous items that seem to forever cover the kitchen countertops, or when the lighting isn’t absolutely ideal. nothing can hold him back from truly loving the end result. just seeing himself captured in a photo is enough. the “imperfections” that i see are unimportant.
i don’t know how it got to this point. i wasn’t always like this — obsessed with aesthetics. every now and then, i’ll scroll back to when i started on instagram. i was real. i didn’t cover anything up, or hold anything back. no, my photos weren’t as visually appealing. but i was always honest. i shared the little things, my little joys before i started calling them that, without the influence of anyone else.
i’m proud of that, i really am. but, if i can tell you the truth, i’m proud of part of what i’m doing now. i don’t think it’s wrong to want to create something beautiful — not if doing so fills you with joy. but there’s a very fine line, and i undoubtedly have crossed it.
i can’t begin to tell you how many wonderful moments i’ve let slip by without public mention or documentation. there is, of course, such a thing as oversharing. not every little detail of a person’s life needs to be shouted from the rooftops. there are plenty of details that are better left private. but there are some that i regret not snapping a photo of or writing about, and even more that i can no longer recall because i wasn’t brave enough to let go of my “need” for my photos, and my feed, to look a certain way.
the missed opportunities make me sadder than i care to admit — like the look on his face when he saw his first film, harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone, on the big screen, or the special way he shakes his bum to the strokes’ “someday,” or how he has to put on every infant onesie and footie pyjama he finds tucked away in the closet, or the total meltdowns he has when we tell him twenty almonds is more than enough, or the sweet way he said “i wuuuv you” for the first time.
but i know i ought not to dwell on what’s been lost. i know i ought to keep my focus on what lies ahead — all the second chances to do better. to choose right. to be authentic.
and so i will.