About a year ago, I ‘unfriended’ an old school acquaintance on Facebook. My reason for this cull from the life inside my phone? She was just so damn happy. She lives abroad, has a rich husband and two beautiful children who she gets to raise herself (thanks to the rich husband, I’m assuming) and spends seemingly 99.9% of her time looking absolutely bloody amazing in a bikini, including during pregnancy. I’m telling you, not one stretch mark, zero puckers of cellulite, not even a five o’clock shadow of pregnancy beard and not one subtle hint of third trimester double chin. Sickening.
I told myself I was deleting her as I would never see her again and I was wasting my precious time spying on her life from afar, but on reflection I know that’s just not true. I was jealous. And now I’m in a much happier place personally, I can see that way more clearly. What I also realise now is that I was envious of her Online Life, not her real one. You see, I should have taken her photos, status updates and general smugness with a very large pinch of Social Media Salt.
I’m sure she has parenting challenges like the rest of us, she just doesn’t post about them. I’m sure she has bad hair days like the rest of us, she just doesn’t post photos selfies when she has them. And I’m sure she misses her husband (who works away) terribly, especially with two children to raise by herself, she just doesn’t post about the struggles – in fact she probably posts gorgeous, sunny photos with gushingly ecstatic captions because those are the best bits, the good times, the parts she wants to remember.
What I’ve realised is that a walk in the park, a sunny duck-feeding stroll, a giggle-inducing game of tag in the garden and a cosy sofa snuggle are highlights. Snippets. And if we share them we share the joyous way we felt in those moments. We should all know that no one person has the ‘perfect life’, no-one actually lives inside a TV commercial, even if that’s what their Facebook newsfeed would have us believe.
Most parents have to drag grumpy kids around a supermarket from time to time (even if you do it online you always forget something), I’m confident everyone deals with massive, wet, alllllllll-the-way-up-the-back, teething shits and I’m hopeful most parents have had to plead “Please, please just stop wiping snot on the carpet! Please?!” (No?? Just me?!?)
What you should know is that for every happy photo of my gorgeously-outfitted Willow, I’ve wrestled an epileptic eel to get her into her clothes, (and she’s developed a love of kicking me in the boobs every single time I lay her on her changing table), for every deliciously healthy plate of slimming world-friendly food I post, I’ve stood in the corner of my kitchen, guiltily nagging on a cold fish finger, and practically every smiley selfie I post is now via Instagram because I can filter the f*ck out of my tired, spotty face. What a shame we can’t apply a bit of ‘Valencia’ in real life, eh? Five minutes before I got this delightful shot of Willow this morning…
… my little ‘Angel’ grabbed an open, mid-change, nappy full of the aforementioned teething shit and managed to fling it off the end of her changing table and onto the (formerly) cream carpet – I was busy wiping with one hand and defending my ‘fun bags’ with the other. Did I photograph the occasion? Nope. But luckily I have a yellowy-brown carpet stain the size of Mars to ensure I never forget it.