Not long ago my husband and I were talking about some of our frustrations in parenting. He shared that he feels like the kids are so well-behaved all day while he is at work and then he comes home and they are nuts, not listening, acting out, arguing and throwing tantrums. He went on to reference the happy smiling faces in the pictures I send him on our occasional trips to the zoo or playdates with friends. With all the sensitivity I could muster, I busted out laughing. “They are nuts all the time! It is crazy all day long!” I just don’t take pictures while I’m power walking out of the zoo with one under my arm kicking while the other two cry in the wagon. I didn’t snap a quick picture when Benjamin emptied all the books off the bookshelf and pulled all the linens of the bed during nap time. I forgot to document it when Christopher laid down in the line at the grocery store because it wasn’t his turn to “pay.” My husband’s perception of our days are based on the happy pictures I send him as he works. Perception is reality.
In our house on your birthday we eat sweets, sing Happy Birthday and blow out candles at every meal. The twins’ birthday comes 11 days before my daughters. On their birthday, we talked through the things that are hard about other people having birthdays with our daughter who was almost 5 years old. She struggled but made us very proud as graciously let them have the spotlight, watched them open presents and blow out candles. Birthdays are hard for little ones but it gives us an opportunity to teach them that while they are very special and important, they are not the center of this big beautiful world.
Fast forward 11 days and it’s my daughter’s 5th birthday. We wake up and come downstairs where I have a donut with a candle in it ready to sing to our birthday girl. My boys climb up in their chairs for their donuts and ask for candles also. I give them the pep talk about how they are very special and important but this is sissy’s big day and she is the only one that gets a candle, just like they did 11 days earlier. As I begin to sing they begin to scream and cry. I powered through and took these picture.
The picture on the left captured the reality of the moment however the picture on the right reflects how I hoped it would have gone. Any guesses on which one ended up on Facebook?Social media is such a delicate balance. There is so much negativity, criticism and strong opinions on facebook and twitter. In equal parts there are a whole lot of us pretending to live a picture perfect life that is not reality. The middle ground that I am constantly searching for is one that shows some of my reality in a way that allows myself and my friends to laugh at how crazy life can be sometimes. As Christian moms it is not our job to be perfect, have perfectly behaved children, beautifully clean homes and homemade snacks when the kids get home. All those things are nice, although almost impossible to attain and may even make us hard to relate to isolating us from the possible friendships we could be creating with moms who need some encouragement. Who are you going to reach out to on a day when your kids are extraordinatoially challenging, the mom whose children look like they fell out of a Pottery Barn Kids catalog everyday? There is power in being vulnerable. I see my Christian mom challenge in three parts:
Love my kids with my whole heart, hopefully so intensely that they can begin to imagine how much God loves us.
Model caring and loving others so they become vehicles for God’s love to reach others.
Encourage other mommas that are trying to do the same thing.
As you post on your social media accounts this week, be honest, be real, be positive and use your platform as a doorway for real relationships with real people who are facing some of the best and worst moments of their lives.