This article was written by mama and guest contributor Hilary Young.
I’m not sure how many hours I spend on Instagram each week, but it is definitely up there. I check Instagram when I want to take a mental break from work, when I get a rare 5 minutes of solo bathroom time to pee (why do children love following us into the bathroom so much?!), and usually at night after putting the kids to sleep. I love me some Instagram, but I have a problem with the way that motherhood is sometimes portrayed on the platform.
People have taken a simple concept—communicating with images—and bumped it up to the next level. The idea of having to be “picture perfect” applies here, especially when posting about motherhood. I have so many questions for the women who make motherhood look easy on Instagram: Who takes their photos? Are they using a $1500 camera to take those photos? Why are their kids never crying in the pictures? Why do they seem to enjoy being with their kids so much? How do they get their hair to look so perfect (and clean!)? Also, why do their living rooms/kitchens/bedrooms always look so clean?
The moral of the story here is that motherhood is implicitly messy. It’s not perfect, and trying to portray it that way on Instagram does a disservice to mothers everywhere who are wondering why they’re falling short of picture perfection every day. So, for everyone struggling to figure out why they can’t seem to make their life as picture perfect as an Insta-mom, here’s what motherhood should really look like on Instagram:
Dirty Hair, Disheveled Clothes
I don’t know about you, but I wash my hair twice a week (which happens to correspond with my two sweaty workouts for the week). I have wavy hair that I never brush and don’t really care. I’m lucky that beach waves are in for the summer, but my hair looks like this year-round, and I just make it work. I don’t have time in the morning to spend on caring about how my hair looks. Also, my kids always have some sort of goo on their hands or faces, so no matter how nicely I’m dressed, I’m almost always guaranteed to have some sort of milk stain/pancake mush/general grossness on my shirt. I usually don’t see it until it’s too late for me to change. I’ve learned to carry a Tide-to-Go pen in my bag at all times as a result.
Kids Who Refuse To Look At The Camera At The Same Time
I have two girls—Sadie, age 4, and Ava, age 1—and I can never get them to look at the camera at the same time for photos. Most of the time, one of them is crying or trying to get out of having their picture taken. Sometimes one of them has their eyes closed. I don’t understand how these perfect Instagram moms always get their kids to cooperate for photos. It seriously boggles my mind. Is there a trick to it? Is someone behind the camera jingling keys at them? Are they just really patient children who love having their picture taken? If it’s the latter, how do I get my kids to do that?
Frazzled Mom Losing Her Sh*t
Shiny Insta moms always manage to take photos where they are open mouth laughing while holding four children. They look calm and peaceful and actually joyful about spending time with their children. If Instagram looked like real life, we’d see more grey hairs, lots of caffeine, a ton of impatience, and more looks that say “stop smashing your sister in the face.” Most of the real life moms that I know don’t have an endless amount of patience and there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of patience you have and the number of children you are responsible for keeping alive. I am at max-capacity with two kids, and I really don’t understand how moms of three-plus kids even manage to put on pants in the morning let alone look picture perfect for Instagram.
Maybe the reason why all of these Insta moms are so popular has to do with the fact that they are selling a fantasy to the women who follow them. Motherhood is rarely glamorous—we get pooped on, peed on, vomited on, snotted on, and used as a glorified napkin—and it’s nice to have an outlet that allows us to step outside of our own messy lives for a moment. But it’s dangerous to sell this concept of what perfect motherhood looks like on Instagram, because the reality is that there is no perfect. There’s authenticity, and doing your best, and learning how not to compare yourself to other moms. Because no matter how perfect a picture may seem, you never truly know what’s going on behind the scenes once they put down the camera.
Hilary Young is the owner of Hilary Young Creative, a content and brand marketing consultancy and business coaching service for women. She is also the mother of two young girls. You can find Hilary on Twitter @hyoungcreative to chat with her about business, motherhood, or anything in between. Share your thoughts on motherhood here!