Confessions of a First Time Mom #5

Motherhood & Instagram

Anyone who has spent any time on social media knows that it is can be a dangerous place. Social media can create, harbor, and intensify feelings of insecurity, self-loathing, depression, jealousy, etc. I thought that as a I got older and moved into new life stages that letting social media affect my state of mind would be a thing of the past, but it turns out it just continues to follow me regardless of what stage of life I am in.

The truth – according to social media – is that there will always be someone doing “it” better than me.

The truth – in reality – is that everyone is struggling in some way.

And even though I know the truth that nobody is perfect and everybody has issues and blah blah blah… seeing those perfectly curated pictures and captions is triggering. Because to me, it is dishonest.

When I was pregnant with Hazel, I found myself in a deep Instagram rabbit hole of having followed all of these Instagram moms. During pregnancy, these moms seemed so cool, so neat, so beautiful, so put together. I thought that was what motherhood was going to be like. But after having Hazel, I quickly realized that these motherhood lifestyles were fake. It took me a long time to admit to myself that looking at these women’s posts was unhealthy and not doing me any favors. It took me even longer to unfollow them [I’m still holding on to a couple and I feel like it’s just to torture myself].

These motherhood lifestyles are unattainable for the average mom. Why? Because we aren’t paid to look like we have it all and have it all together. These women advertise these ridiculously expensive baby products that they just love and you just have to have… THAT THEY GOT GIFTED FOR FREE! They create this persona to make you want to be like them, so that you will buy the products they are advertising, so that they get money. It does nothing for you, but instill feelings of inadequacy or guilt because you can’t afford the “best” for your kid, you can barely take a shower much less do your hair and makeup, you can barely keep your eyes open… the list goes on. They also write these posts about how absolutely incredible pregnancy and motherhood is and how wonderful their children are and how easy it all is. It’s nonsense.

I’ve managed to remove most of these profiles from my Instagram which has helped a lot! It might seem stupid, but following influencers is an easy trap to fall into to affect your mental health. Now that Hazel is a toddler, I have begun searching for parenting advice, communication advice, eating advice – just looking for lots of opinions and thoughts on different subjects, so that I could figure out what I wanted to implement. I started finding much healthier accounts to follow. Parenting accounts that honestly portray motherhood and create a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Some of my favorite accounts right now:

I still have a long way to go in having a healthy relationship with social media. I’ve contemplated getting rid of it altogether, but I think it has some benefits if I could just get my mental health under control. But as a mom, the comparison game is strong, especially in those first few postpartum months, so for me, it’s important to pay attention to what I am focusing on.


Keeping It Happy and Healthy

Someone told me recently that we could only continue being friends if we kept it “happy and healthy.” I read those words a few times as I tried to understand what was meant by that. As I let them sink in, I understood that this person apparently had a problem with our friendship.

Let me tell you about our friendship… our friendship consisted of encouraging each other to keep trying hard and being awesome, of sharing personal stories, feelings, and frustrations, of complaining about bosses or certain situations, of shopping trips and quick lunches, of short walks that turned into long walks with laughing or venting, and of constant conversation. As you can see, there was nothing unhappy or unhealthy about it. It was real.

I’m getting so fed up with how much stock our society puts on happiness. It seems like so many people just live their lives to be happy, opposed to genuine.

Happy: adj, feeling of pleasure or contentment

Genuine: adj, truly what something is said to be; authentic

There is so much more to living than just finding pleasure or being content. There is so much more to being a friend than staying in the shallow end instead of diving deep into what is going on with a person. It is truly ignorant to believe or expect a person can be happy all the time. It is impossible, because happiness is a feeling and feelings come and go. All people get sad, angry, frustrated, stressed… those apparently “unhappy” and “unhealthy” feelings and emotions are natural and every single person on Earth experiences them. To pretend that they don’t is very detrimental to the people being honest about how they feel in order to work through the hard moments.

As a people, we can’t just give up on those who are open about their mental state or what is going on in their lives. We should applaud them for their authenticity and vulnerability. If they are going through something difficult, we should step in to hold them up and encourage them even if what they are dealing with is not what we deem happy or healthy. With the mentality of cutting ties with people who don’t live their lives in this fake happiness ruse, we end up doing more damage.

With this mentality, we should cut ties with people:

  • who are drowning in depression
  • who are struggling to understand a miscarriage or loss of a child
  • who are wrestling with how their faith fits into their life experiences
  • who are fighting to stay positive in this difficult economy and job market
  • who are dealing with the death of a parent or friend
  • who are tackling a drug or porn addiction
  • who are [insert your own scenario here]

Does cutting ties with honest and broken people seem happy and healthy to you?

As I have time to contemplate what “keep it happy and healthy” means, I am okay that this person does not want to continue our friendship. I believe that it will be better in the long run for me to not be so invested in a person not willing to see the unhappy and the unhealthy that affects people.


Accept Your Inner Negative Nancy

The vulnerability that honesty requires isn’t something that everybody can handle. -Unknown

Angry. Frustrated. Sad. Lonely. Depressed. Exhausted. Insecure. Hurt. Down. Ordinary.

We all feel negative sometimes. It’s a part of life. You can’t be happy all the time. But I feel like we are being taught more and more to stifle our negative feelings. We are constantly being told to stay away from negative people and to be positive in all situations. These mantras are well and good until you are having a bad day or are so down in whatever hole you find yourself in or dealing with this impossible situation, but instead of trying to find a solution, you are beating yourself up for not having it all together and for not being able to be positive. You wish that you could come clean or confide in someone, but you can’t because they will just think you are complaining or ungrateful or negative. So you push it as deep down as you can, spread a smile on your face, and decide you will figure this whole thing out on your own.

How is this healthy? How is this cultivating strong relationships?

When did being real and being honest translate to being perfect and being positive? Being real and being honest means that you are brave enough to admit that you aren’t perfect, that you don’t have it all together, and that you aren’t positive all the time. Claiming or making it seem like everything is fine and dandy 24/7 is basically a lie; a lie that will end up doing more harm than good.

There is an expectation to not let your hurt show. To keep it hidden, locked up for no one to see. We praise smiles and sunshine and good thoughts. Those who share sad stories or negative thoughts are looked down on and told to keep that to themselves, but why? Why can’t we find the good and the healing in the rain? How are people dealing with negativity supposed to work through their problems and their feelings if they aren’t given the chance?

Now don’t get me wrong – there is a difference between finding the negative in every situation or always seeing a problem instead of a solution – I’m talking about everyday struggles that people are embarrassed to talk about. I know what this feels like, because I have been there. Back in 2015, I felt like this rain cloud followed me around and I couldn’t escape it. I tried to talk about it, but I felt like my feelings would just get waved over and that people would distance themselves. This behavior didn’t encourage me to get better, instead it just made me want to disappear. A lot of people didn’t even have a clue, because I was really good at pretending; so many of us are fantastic at pretending that we are okay and that our life is great! We post pictures of us smiling or out with friends to make sure no one suspects anything, but then the pictures we post aren’t really what’s going on or how we feel or what we’re dealing with.

By accepting your negative Nancy, I just want to stress that it is okay to have a bad day or to complain just a little bit about your new boss or admit that last Saturday you slept in until noon, didn’t shower, and watched tv all day. Everyday of your life doesn’t have to be spectacular or perfect or full of positivity. But I also want to stress that it is okay to accept that your friend or significant other is having a bad day, or needs to complain just a little bit about their new boss, or that they slept in until noon, didn’t shower, and watched tv all day. Let them vent, share, and be honest, because one day you will need them to return that favor.