This is Jonah.
You may know Jonah from such posts as you are (2) going on (3) and everything i need to know i learned from my toddler. He’s a character. His birthday is coming up soon, and when a friend texted me to ask what he’s into, I replied “destruction, nudity, and spilling milk.” Because really, when it comes to interests, those are definitely in his top five. He also takes photos at a near-professional level. He can go from screaming about the milk he spilled to grinning a cheese-face with tears still in his eyes. He sees the camera, he performs.
This is Boone.
You may know Boone from such posts as the birthday boy, part 1 and your kid is a jerk (calm down). (I called him “John” in that post, but it’s Boone, it’s all Boone.) Boone just wants to make you laugh and, in turn, laugh himself. He’s a sweet little space cadet at the best of times, and at the craziest of times, he oscillates between a hyperactive half monkey/half frog – he’s spry, but also slippery – and an unmoving pet rock that repeatedly asks for snacks. All of this to say, he’s a great kid who has a wonderful smile — but we hardly ever see his true smile in photos. If you say to Boone, “smile for the picture!” welp, you never really know what you’re going to get.
I take a lot of pictures. And videos. And I post them on social media, for the world (or the world who cares).
I’ve read a lot of articles and opinions about “moms today.” Bunmi Latidan, one of my favorite tell-it-like-it-is mom-writers, summed it up pretty perfectly:
How To Be a Mom in 2017: Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to overstimulate, understimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-story, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development also don’t forget the coconut oil.
How To Be A Mom In Literally Every Generation Before Ours: Feed them sometimes.
(This is why we’re crazy.)
Um, yes. Amen. This IS why we’re crazy, Bunmi. If you are a fan of funny moms in general, I do recommend checking out some of Bunmi’s hilarious books. Her newest novel, Confessions of a Domestic Failure, is out now and you can find it here here. (This is not an ad. I’m just a huge supporter of funny moms.)
But anyway; back to pictures. Every time we post a picture of our family lives, we open ourselves up to criticism. Even silent criticism – maybe especially silent criticism. We never know who will look at the picture and think “wow, I would never parent like that.” But we also may never know who will look at the pictures of our real life and say, “phew, solidarity” about our messy house, our kids running around in the clothes they picked themselves (that are woefully unmatched) and a smile that would make a mom roll her eyes on picture day. Take the pictures. Take them all. Share your real life with people. It doesn’t have to be online. Meet with a mom friend and tell her about the time when your Almost-three drew in sharpie marker all over your living room wall (Purell works great on that, by the way). Don’t worry if she’s going to ask you what you were doing when the mini-Picasso was creating. Don’t worry if she’ll ask you why the Almost-three could reach the sharpies. Just tell the story, embrace the realness, and wait for her to reciprocate with a tale of her own. If she doesn’t right away, that’s OK. She’ll know you can handle the messy reality of parenting. She’ll tuck that away.
We have smartphones. We have the ability to take thousands of digital pictures whenever we want. If we only take the perfectly posed photos with cute backdrops and forced smiles, we miss so much of our parenting journey. When our children are grown, when we watch them become parents, let’s pull out the pictures, the stories, the memories of real life – not the highlights reel.
Post the pictures that may paint you in a less-than-perfect light.
Tell the stories that don’t end with happily ever after.
Embrace the real, share the real, live the real.