Behind the Squares

It’s a funny thing, social media.  I work in social media and I love Instagram in particular – I love the community of mums and the inspiration I get on a daily basis (everything from clothes and books to mindfulness prompts to places to visit).  I also love playing around with photography and words, and so the platform often becomes a mini-blog for me to record my motherhood journey when I can’t find time to blog (which is quite often).

But I also think it’s important to remember that the squares we show to the world are just snippets from our lives.  I think it’s easy to look at social media and make assumptions.  So here are some things I want you to know.

When I share the happy sibling moments…

Although I post photos of the happier moments each day, the not-so-great bits are, of course, there in the background.  I do usually mention these too.  An example – one of my most-liked Instagram photos from last year was one of littles sitting in front of the Christmas tree, arms around each other.  Captioned with:

“The photo – lovely sibling moment.  The reality – two minutes after they were sitting happily admiring their decoration hanging skills, Flora walloped Isaac on the head with a snow globe…”.

I wrote about this last year in a Facebook post:

Yes there were tears today, yes there was pushing, yes I hid behind the kitchen door eating leftover Easter eggs when the kids couldn’t see me, yes I felt like crying when Flora was still standing in her cot shouting at 8.30pm and trying to undress herself when I just wanted to sit down with a cup of tea. Motherhood is hard. And even though the moments I chose to share on Instagram today are snapshots of a peaceful woodland walk it doesn’t mean that my whole day looked like this. It is just, for me, these are the moments I want to focus on from today – the moments that keep me going when I’m telling Isaac for what feels like the hundredth time not to shove his sister head first into the sand, when I’m sitting with my head against the cot bars so my daughter can fall asleep playing with my hair, when I’m so tired my eyes are stinging and the day derailed somewhere around dinnertime. Maybe I should share more of these moments on here too, just so you know my kids don’t always smile for the camera {I bribe them with chocolate buttons} and life isn’t all walks amongst the flowers. Of course it’s not.”  

And of course, in every day, in amongst the chaos, there are gems to treasure and the moments that make it all worthwhile.  There is beauty and joy. These are the memories I want to hold onto and those are usually the ones that make it to my feed.  But just because I don’t post about the tantrums and the tears and the fighting, it definitely doesn’t mean it isn’t there behind the squares.

When I share craft projects and things we’ve made…

I have also posted on Instagram about my hesitancy in sharing handmade costumes or craft projects, for fear of being labelled “one of those Pinterest mums”.  Around World Book Day this year, I read a number of posts that were quite scathing about mums who had hand made outfits.  And made some sweeping assumptions about the kinds of mums who would spend hours putting a homemade costume together.  The truth is that I love making things, and I do these crafts for the joy it brings both me and the littles.  (I love seeing the kids delighted with a cardboard car or a wooden peg doll painted like Spiderman or an egg box boat).  I love painting and creating things.  I love scrolling through Pinterest and finding things I can make for or with the kids.  I find it therapeutic and relaxing, and it’s something I can get lost in for a while.  (I am one of those mums who enjoys letting them loose with all the paints and sequins and tissue paper – ok, not so much the tidying up bit).  And I genuinely share these posts in case there are other mums like me who enjoy these activities and are looking for ideas.

When it all seems like idyllic adventuring…

I’m aware that my feed looks like we’re forever wandering in pretty fields (I am a huge nature lover and we do spend a lot of time outdoors). But recently our adventures have been kept close to home unless my husband is also off. Two weeks ago I shared a post on Instagram of a wooden boat that I had made and we had sailed at a nearby pond.  In the post I said that we had had a slow weekend; pond dipping, making daisy chains, crafting and playing in the garden.  That we were waiting for daddy to come to toast marshmallows on the chiminea.  Perhaps it sounded idyllic.  But the reality was that I was feeling a bit more anxious than usual, so much so that I was too anxious to drive anywhere on my own with the kids that day.  I wasn’t all that sure where this anxiety had come from or why it was stopping me from adventuring further afield.  (I am feeling a lot better after making some changes and being better at self-care.  I think a lot of it is triggered by feeling run down and tired).  For me, the process of knotting twigs together to make a wooden raft was almost like a mindfulness task upon which I could focus.  Walking to the pond at our nearby woods is my go-to when I’m feeling run down, and in need of the calming influence of Mother Nature. Which I certainly was that weekend.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we never really know all that is happening behind the squares.  And all we can do is be kind to each other.

2 Replies to “Behind the Squares”

  1. Emma Cunningham says: Reply

    Very eloquently put, as always Emma. I love the fact that your blog focuses on the positive moments, these are the bits we should all hold onto. Children grow up too quickly and we need to hold onto the moments of wonder and innocence ( even if they are just snippits in an otherwise crazy day).

    1. Thank you, Emma. I guess my blog and Instagram are like a diary for me, so yes, they will be the bits that I want to remember! Xx

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