Instagram motherhood

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Make-up free, yesterday’s shirt, wild hair, baby with no pants, third cup of coffee…hot mess? Or genuine?

Can we talk for a few minutes about motherhood in the age of Instagram*? Bear in mind, I love social media. I spend more time with it than the average person, find it fun, and use it as a huge part of my blogging jobby (that’s job + hobby, and I just made it up). But at the same time, I see so many alarming trends in the lifestyle-motherhood genre, of which I am a part.

I’m not talking about bushy eyebrows or flat-brimmed hats or sepia-toned presets. I’m talking about an attitude and mindset that may have started out well-intentioned and harmless, but I think could be damaging for so many of us: the reactive, woe is me, hot mess, self-deprecating, barely-holding-on-by-a-thread mom attitude. These kind of thought patterns aren’t good for anyone’s emotional wellness.

The purpose of, and the reason I like to participate in, the mom-Instagram community is support. Solidarity. It is so powerful and healthy and wonderful to know that you are not alone. You are not the only one struggling or questioning or laughing hysterically. You are not the only one to find your cold coffee in the microwave at the end of the day or to skip your shower for the third day in a row. You are not the only one to crave a little quiet time, even if it’s just to poop alone. You are not the only one with painfully engorged breasts, cracked nipples, and interrupted nights. You are not the only one who feels like you are stretched too thin with the demands of modern womanhood. Certain parts of motherhood are just universal that way.

It’s healthy and fun to share our experiences and see similar experiences mirrored back to us. It’s nice to vent off a little steam when things get hard. It is so important to feel like you are supported and that you have a community. It feels good. And I think Instagram can serve these purposes in a lot of positive ways, especially when we are all being genuine and compassionate.

However…

When the venting and sharing of the reality of our experiences turns into a not-so-subtle competition about who is the biggest mess, it starts to upset me. When being “real” turns into a spiral of self-pity, I get frustrated. We all have hard days – and that is okay**. We all have “hot mess” moments. We all have mornings when we’re guzzling coffee or evenings when we want a glass of wine or a pint of ice cream (or both). We all have days when we realize we don’t remember the last time we washed our hair. But settling into that hot-mess-woe-is-me attitude every single day and feeling as if it’s out of our control that our life is this way makes me sad.

Before I conceived, while I was pregnant, and throughout the first year of Millie’s life, people have told me OH YOU JUST WAIT! You don’t even know what’s coming!!!!! And that is true. Motherhood is a massive learning experience – it’s emotional and funny and draining and challenging and wonderful. Do I know what I’m doing? Not entirely. But you know what?! I’m making choices with intention. I’m not just flying by the seat of my pants, and I don’t think you have to surrender to that out-of-control-feeling either.

You get to chose for your family. You get to chose what you eat, how you sleep, what your schedule is like, what everyone does every day. You get to chose where your energy goes. You can make your life what you want! You don’t have to do what your friends are doing. You don’t have to do what your parents did. You get to make purposeful, intentional choices for you, your children, and your family.

Your life is not out of your control, just because you’ve added children to the equation (though, these little people are certainly going to be whoever they are, and in a big way – and that will shake things up!). It doesn’t have to be chaos. It may feel like it sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be all the time. There will be days when you feel like you’re barely hanging on, but you can always do something about it.

You do not have to be a hot mess (or reactive or miserable or out of control or whatever) just because you’re a mom. Just be you. You can be exactly who you want to be***

*You probably thought I was going to say that it’s so hard to mother in the age of social media because we are always comparing ourselves to others – and the sense of perfection they display on Instagram. And that is true too – and can be super harmful and difficult to deal with (I know I’ve struggled with it too!). Perhaps the phenomenon of overdoing the hot-mess-mom persona is kickback from this problem? Either way, I think if we’re all just genuine and share from a place of compassion and heart, we could make social media a much happier, emotionally safe place

**If you are consistently feeling down or think you may be struggling with postpartum depression or another mental health issue, please reach out to a doctor or therapist who can help. If you’re not sure where to start, call your general practitioner or OBGYN/midwife. It’s okay not to be okay, but you don’t have to feel that way forever.

***If using the term “hot mess mom” is really your thing – you go girl. That mom bun and #momlife wine glass suit you well, and I don’t mean to use your catchphrase in a derogatory way!! But beyond the hectic schedule, dry shampoo, and tees and totes that say #hotmessmom, I hope you know that you have the power to create the life you want. This post isn’t about bashing anybody’s choices, it’s simply about inspiring each other to be our best!😘

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