I have a confession to make. I am guilty of posting those really cute moments of my kids on Instagram, admiring my grid, manicuring it to tell the story of my life: My husband and I in our kick-ass advertising jobs and our cute-as-a-button, precocious, sassy Brooklyn kids, enriched at a public school that is diverse in population and mindset. You know the scene I’m talking about: It’s my 7-year-old son’s architecture residency, my 4-year-old daughter’s cute #OOTD, all four of us fitting into a cute brunch selfie. Those were real moments that were really great, but what about the rest of it that wasn’t so perfect?
While all of the picturesque posts are true, I think only showcasing those perfect moments sends the wrong signal. At work, I let it all hang out. On a Monday morning when someone asks: “How was your weekend?” I tell them the truth: “My kids were little sh*ts, I didn’t shower for three days, I am exhausted and so thankful to be at work so I can get a breather.” Some mornings, I walk in with a look on my face like I faced some wildebeest, and I tell all. And when I convey that this is hard, that my husband and I struggle with all sorts of parenting #fails, people say: “Oh, they look so cute and well-behaved on your feed!” Yes, that’s how it looks on Instagram, mostly because I don’t think Nana wants to see posts about my daughter throwing a fit on the walk to school, flailing on the sidewalk while strangers offer assistance. And to be honest, I was so overwhelmed by being “in it” that capturing the moment was the furthest thing from my mind.
Until quite recently I had been feeling like the “only one.” The only one who can’t get their kid to walk four blocks without losing it, the only one wondering if I’m doing it right. Wondering if I’ve lost myself. Wondering if I’ll ever get new math. Wondering if I am the only one who feels like I’m always on the verge of a nervous breakdown.When I walk home from “morning drop,” other parents and I smile and wave, but there are some I can get real with. I realize that beneath their perfect veneer there is another momma trying to hold it together, or a dad so frustrated he wants to scream, and I realize we all have our thing—that thing not everyone sees. Sometimes I have coffee with these “real parents,” and we spew, complain, and let it out. And usually, after a few sips, our shoulders drop, we look at one another, and laugh because we realize we are all going through the same thing! It’s so important that we have these raw, unfiltered moments with each other and are there to hold each other up. We need to realize it’s okay, and we aren’t alone.
I can’t promise that my social media feed will be unfiltered or that I’ll be posting my daughter’s Atlantic Avenue tantrum in all its glory, but when I can, I will be brave and drop the veneer, and invite others in. In this culture of constantly checking our feeds, the never-ending competition that comes along with these habits, and the pressure to be the best parent (whatever that means), it’s more important than ever to know that it’s okay to feel like a failure. You truly do get an “A” for effort. More importantly, you are actually not failing! We are all impassioned parents who are trying our best, so if we can’t honestly connect, let down our guards, laugh at the insanity, stop judging and comparing and caring how the “Smiths” do it, we will never realize that the Smiths actually have their own drama, too. So, do your thing the best you can, forgive yourself for all of it, move on, and power through.
The clichés are true—it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but also the most rewarding. It will expand your heart and mind like nothing else, bend you to the brink, and you will evolve and grow in ways you never expected. It’s corny, but so damn true. (But seriously though—M’s outfit yesterday? A tutu over Avengers pajamas—to die for! Oh and don’t get me started on T’s Architecture project.) So yes, sometimes #overwhelmed, but also a #ProudMomma who’s #thankful for this family and this life that is entirely my own.
Sandi Harari is a Brooklyn mom and writer, and is the executive vice president and creative director at BARKER Advertising.