Maybe it’s living in the age of social media, where everyone puts only her best foot forward. We see posts and updates and subconsciously can feel a need to make our own lives look as nice and neat and tied-up-with-a-bow as what we see from all these friends, relatives and… “friends.”
I know I can be guilty of feeling this way.
Recently, I started a blog. I wanted to make a post of a new, easy little recipe I had heard about and take pictures of us making it, cooking it, and my kids joyfully eating what I, mother extraordinaire, had whipped up for breakfast. (I was feeling very proud of myself in advance.)
Saturday morning, I made the concoction (banana + egg = pancake, basically), and took pics along the way. I swished into the family room like Donna Reed, proudly setting the plates down and picking up my phone to start the photo session of my happily nourished children. But wait… these were not happy faces.
My youngest was crying and hiding behind a pillow. My older one was laughing at her and making it worse. What? This wasn’t part of the plan.
So I started begging. Please, please eat the pancake, please smile and just take a bite! Quit complaining that it smells weird! And I’m betting you already know how this ends.
Frustration and irritation all around! Yes, it was a glorious morning of mothering. Here’s the best picture I got:
My husband came in the kitchen while I stood there deflated and a little angry. I know it shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I had worked this up in my mind to BE something.
He said: Make this the post. That it wasn’t perfect. That there was crying.
And then he wolfed down the banana pancakes.
That got me thinking about the front I put on for others, both in social media and beyond.
Because I got divorced when my oldest was only two, the perfectionist in me has always wanted to gloss over the raw bits and make things seem lovely, presentable and smooth, even when they weren’t.
But that’s not the truth of it. It never is. No matter how hard we try, our pancakes fail. Kids cry and we can’t control situations. We fail in epic ways.
And the hurt of divorce is something that can linger for a child, and that’s not to be glossed over.
I still get the questions from her about why we split, and I attempt to be delicately honest. I don’t go into detail or make anyone look bad. But we live in a world where so much is falsely perfected, like the fakery of social media, the edited-for-YouTube video, airbrushed ads, choosing the one good selfie out of the 57 that were taken, and, yes, blogs that make things look a lot easier than they really are.
Showing my flaws to my children and owning them might help them grow up with a more realistic view of life and all its messiness.
I think it’s going to be confusing to live and see the false perfection that’s everywhere, when the realities and the banana pancakes of life are staring you in the face, making you feel like something is wrong with your life. Shouldn’t it be perfect like everyone I see? So, when I finally write the post, I will tell the honest truth of it. And I am very glad not to fake it. I got a good lesson in showing the real real, even when it isn’t pretty, and that tastes pretty great to me.
Amy Edwards is a DJ at one of Austin, TX’s alternative radio stations, 105.3FM, and she’s recording a first album at age 41. She didn’t pick up a guitar until 2010, but now it’s an integral part of her life. This fall, she’s releasing a new album, Forward.