Social media is such a bizarre snapshot of people’s worlds. Looking at feeds full of food, drunk selfies, outfit selfies, sunsets and baby spam. From, for the most part, complete STRANGERS.
What is the appeal of these little windows into other people’s lives? Amusement? Nosiness? Comparison? Distraction? I don’t know but it’s a bit addictive isn’t it? Especially when you spend great swathes of time trapped under a sleeping/feeding small person with nothing but your iPhone for company.
But how much of it is real? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for a hipstamatic filter. I love colour. Our house is colourful, my wardrobe (when I can wear my non-breastfeeding friendly dresses) is colourful. My favourite pair of shoes are bright pink. I loved them so much I bought 3 pairs (am on the 3’s now, sob). And now with 2 swipes of a finger my memories can look colourful too. What’s not to love?
But there is a danger that lives, memories, experiences, look a little brighter than they really are. My life is certainly not all neon pink. Even with a filter.
I definitely had a fluffy idea of what motherhood was going to look like – cuddles and big brown eyes like mine gazing at me adoringly. Decorating fairy cakes while we laughed with flour on our faces and matching aprons. Craft projects and nativity plays. Picnics and paddling pools. And lots of laughter.
I know mine are still a bit little to be damning the reality of all of the above, I’m sure there will be many days like those, but the everyday is rather different, and with Mr Husband insistent that we are not having any more children (because we’d have to buy a shit car) there will be no brown-eyed babies here. And I’m more likely to be yelling “do you need a poo?”, the panic rising in my voice, than sprinkling toppings on cupcakes.
Of course I love my little green and blue-eyed monsters. And we do have fun, and we do laugh, and I couldn’t live without them now. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean everything is bright and cheery like all the plastic toy crap in our house shouting LOOK HOW FUN THIS CHILD STUFF IS. Oh yes, it’s all hilarious until Mr Husband steps bare-footed onto a piece of pirate lego, shouts ‘Jesus’ and now we have a toddler who uses that as his go-to expletive. At his one volume setting of LOUD.
Sometimes it’s being awake all night, and being tired all day. Sometimes it’s hiding in the kitchen eating nutella from the jar because it’s the only thing that helps. Sometimes it’s drinking all the wine and all the gin just to claw back a sense of humour. And that’s ok too.
I’m pretty new to Instagram and I have been amazed at just how much I love it. I guess that’s partly because, as a screenwriter and working in the film world, the opportunity to show a picture and write a little story to go with it, in a way that takes a second (rather than the usual years and years of filmmaking), is so appealing, so satisfying. A quick little moment out there for the world to see. For me it’s been a fantastic way to have a shared experience of motherhood this time around, in a way I wasn’t expecting. It’s life-affirming seeing all these little people being born and growing up, and all their incredible parents loving them and surviving the every day – whether that be a day of picnics and paddling pools, or just poos! It makes me feel I’m not so alone in navigating (and fucking up!) all this strange and glorious parenting stuff.
I will be using filters. I will be making some effort (even if it’s just half-arsed, don’t expect Annie Leibovitz!) to make my pictures look a bit cheerful, because I like colour and I like pretty things, and it’s a little bit of fun when my days are spent mostly looking at the same four walls and doing work emails in between wiping bums and being on my knees clearing up mashed food. But the words will be honest, hopefully without too much whinging or self despair, because let’s face it, no one likes a moaner either! It may not always be the whole story, because sometimes you just can’t share everything (or I can’t anyway, I’m not quite that brave/emotionally intelligent!), but it will be a real one.