That banner photo looks “Pinterest Perfect”. Right?? I mean, we’re a pretty family! (…If I do say so myself…)
Here’s what life *really* looks like every day:
The price of Pinterest Perfection
I am an event designer and I refuse to make über-styled parties for my kids.
Well, that’s simple.
I want to be present.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’m sitting over here judging those moms who create those picture perfect parties for their children. Not at all! So don’t go getting offended just yet!! It just means that I know I’m good at being creative and working for a client, but I have to separate work from family. I have to. And that’s just me. Some event planner/blogger moms are really great at creating something spectacular and staying chill and making the grandeur happen without breaking a sweat or making the kid feel forced to celebrate mom’s way. For me, it’s just too much pressure on me and will become too much pressure on my kids.
Two Christmases ago, I wrote about how our family was having a meager Christmas on purpose. And as we’ve gone on this journey of gratitude this year, more than ever, my resolve is to emphasize the quality of the moments instead of the quality of the atmosphere. If that means my Thanksgiving table is surrounded by 4 people and is only filled with non-traditional food, then so be it. If we don’t spend a single penny on some special recipe or décor piece, but we are together and loving each other and grateful for another day, the roof over our heads, and the clothes on our backs… and then my children become adults who value quality time and the folks around them… Then, I’m succeeding.
Now, why am I talking about this?
Well, that’s also simple.
Over the years, I’ve encountered some fellow event planners who proudly display their gorgeous work (of their children’s birthdays), and in their recountings, they discuss how hairy the week/day of was and how tired and/or mean they were to everyone and in reading all of those tales, all I can think is, “Did you hug your child and make him/her feel valued”. Meanwhile, they’re using professional photos to push their companies forward. I’m even guilty of trying to consider how to parlay my child’s birthday into a photo shoot for my business. I’ll admit it. Like I said, some moms are great at this sort of thing. I’m just not.
Likewise, as a photographer, I’ve had some moms really just drive themselves nuts trying to force their children to be “picture perfect” and, as a result, the kids look anxious and the moms look terrible in the resulting photos. I’m not that kind of photographer anyway. I’m much better at going with the flow to capture sweet moments of interaction rather than creating perfect compositions.
And then there are the clients who see these photos of photo shoots and simulated weddings … and weddings where the couple spent crazy sums of money to have a venue all day so they could take serious time to take serious, styled (a.k.a. “staged”) images. Clients think this is what weddings in real life actually look like. And then they can’t believe when I tell them their sheet shot is too long for the time we have. Or when I tell them they could buy a house for the price of the details they’ve selected.
And you’ve seen these home offices and children’s play areas that are in perfect order…
I laugh in these people’s faces!!
The examples could go on and on; the difference between perceived perfection and reality (Google “reality vs pinterest” sometime).
The Pinterest Effect
Appearances were a big deal before social media. Creating them. Keeping them up….
But now, we have these windows into each other’s lives that we didn’t have before and we’ve put incomprehensible amounts of pressure on ourselves to present our best selves to the universe. We hinge our self-esteem to how many “likes” or “shares” we get. We freely dole out our personal opinions as if they’re gospel and angrily, and even meanly, decry anyone with an opposing reality or opinion. We create and project these little bubbles of perfection with seeming ease, but it’s not easy. It’s a lie.
None of it’s real. Well, some of it is. I’m a genuine person, so when I’m posting about my love and my happiness and my blessings, I truly mean it. Much of it’s not real. I certainly am not posting images of my family’s folded (sometimes unfolded) laundry that sits on the couch for a week… because folding it was a huge accomplishment in and of itself… I post photos of my unmade face, but I don’t post pix of my unmade bed! Or the ring in the toilet… or the fight Mr. Old School and I just had. Those things don’t fit into my “pinterest perfect” narrative. But we do argue. And the toilet has a wring in it as I type this. Both of them do, for that matter. I’ve written about this before; seems to be a recurring theme and lifelong goal for me: living an authentic life.
I can’t help but wonder how much of my drive to present my best self affects my children’s perceptions of the world around them. You see, while these “picture perfect” moments may be picture perfect, all they might remember from them is how hard I worked and how little I interacted with them — other than to yell at them. Or how much I didn’t enjoy the moment, so they didn’t. And years from now, when they look at these mementos, they’ll not have fondness and their hearts won’t swell. They’ll just be sad or even mad at me … maybe they’ll never value photos of their kids or maybe they won’t make big deals out of the important moments. Maybe they won’t value family togetherness. Maybe they won’t embrace their true selves. Maybe they won’t be genuine. Maybe they’ll walk away from the Wondrous Cross. Do I want them to grow up to be fake? Do I want them to question God or even leave the Faith because of what they see in me??
I just can’t have that.
As their parent, I envision the kinds of adults I wish my children to be. I envision the kind of childhood I wish for them to remember … and, in turn, glean quality life lessons. My intention is that, as adults, my children will look back on their childhoods and smile with warm remembrance. I want them to want to recreate these memories for their own children. I don’t wish for them to remember the presents they got, but the love they felt. I want them to remember me at their sides during their best moments and not as some stressed out maniac who’s pissed at the universe.
So, as a woman on a mission to live life as my most genuine self, I am accepting that our home and our photographs and our kids’ birthday parties aren’t “pinterest perfect” and it’s futile to try to make them all so. Stinker Relly will have crazy bed head. Stinker Bell will wear the strangest combinations of attire and we’re rolling the dice on having “done” hair. Mr. Old School will wear t-shirts and flip flops every day of the year if I don’t make too much of a frowny face. I may or may not have makeup on. I may or may not have showered today…
That doesn’t make me a bad mom. It just makes me a mom who accepts her limitations and finds ways to work around them. One day, when they’re older and can give me permission, I’ll be happy to be involved in their life events’ planning processes. But until then, homemade cake and one friend (if any at all), a photograph of me tickling my kids or the hubs and me making silly faces at each other, clean clothes tossed onto the couch, and driving through the car line without a bra will be just fine with this creative diva. Because I know my children feel cherished by me and they feel me present in their moments.
And here’s the deal.
This post really isn’t about Pinterest at all. It’s about parenting with authenticity so you can be present in your own life and the lives of your kids, so they can, in turn, be authentic and present in their own lives and the lives around them.
I need your help to be genuinely present with me. Will you do it too? Will you help me by pursuing your true self alongside me?
If this post is really resonating with you and you want to make some changes, but aren’t sure where to start, pick up The Gifts of Imperfection and be challenged away from shame and toward your true self. Like, WOAH!
Together, let’s release the fear and shame of imperfection and embrace ourselves!
Remember that you were BORN the person God intended to fulfill your destiny. You were ALREADY “fearfully and wonderfully made”! You don’t have to become some other person to make your life/calling/destiny happen or be successful. Love this person. Appreciate God’s own perfect handiwork. And then walk boldly; dirty dishes, mounds of laundry, unbrassiered and all.
I promise it’s worth it.