You’re scrolling, scrolling, scrolling through your Instagram feed and I know what you see: beautiful photos of beautiful families. They’re running through fields of grass, laughing, holding hands.
And your eyes search her out: the mother. She’s beautiful and etherial. She’s probably wearing a flower crown and her long prairie dress is blowing in the wind. She’s giving her children gentle kisses or she’s perfectly nursing one of her babies in the tall weeds of nature. She is a goddess.
And you think to yourself: Why can’t that be me? Why can’t I be like that?
I love professional photos as much as the next mom. In my opinion, it’s one of the only ways we can literally freeze time.
But as we scroll our feeds in our sweatpants and messy buns and we stumble upon these beautiful pictures of other families in the serene wilderness, where the children are laughing and cooperating with a mother who has her hair and make up done, it’s easy to feel like we’re failing.
Why can’t I get it together enough to wash my freakin’ hair?
How does she have all of her kids dressed and smiling at the same time?
She looks amazing after having that baby-why do I still look pregnant?
She looks like a goddess nursing her little one in this shot. Why can’t I keep my baby latched long enough for a picture like this?
But here’s what we keep forgetting while we stare at these perfect pictures on our feed-we’re comparing our everyday realities to one frozen moment in time. That’s all a picture is-it’s a singular moment-frozen. We have no idea what it took to get the shots we see.
Sometimes we have to remember-beautiful photos are just one of the many faces of motherhood.
Sometimes our faces erupt in anger because we cannot possibly fight this battle again. Or maybe it’s the frustration of being overtouched and and overwhelmed and overstimulated. Or maybe because we are feeling every emotion possible, or maybe none at all.
Sometimes our faces are tear-stained from our sixth mental breakdown of the day. Or maybe because we feel lonely, even though we’re never alone. Or maybe it’s the mom guilt or the anxiety or the constant question of, “Am I failing? Am I doing a good job? Am I enough? “
Sometimes our faces are worn and haggard from night after night of waking with the little ones. Or maybe the lack of skincare routine or self-care all together. Or from carrying the emotional weight belonging to you and your little people.
Yes, there are many faces of motherhood.
Sometimes a smile erupts across our faces because we’re getting to watch little personalities evolve. Or maybe because our toddler wiped out. Or maybe it’s because we look at our little creations and wonder how we got so lucky to call them ours.
Sometimes our faces are tear-stained because we have to pack away the newborn clothes because our children are thriving and growing. Or maybe it’s because they surprised you with a kiss because they felt so filled with love for you. Or maybe because they’ve done something kind for their sibling without being asked or seeking reward.
Sometimes our faces are bright and jubilant because we’ve taught our children something new. Or maybe because their laughter makes our heart sing. Or maybe because our children have done something beyond precious. Or maybe, just maybe, because we feel like we are exactly where we are meant to be.
Yes, there are many faces of motherhood.
We’re only human. It’s natural to choose to put our best face forward. And with everyone posting their best face, we often only see that one beautiful face of motherhood, running through fields with carefree laughter.
But while you compare yourself to the images on the app, I might argue that your children and loved ones see you as the beautiful, ethereal mother you’re longing to be-with or without the flower crown and prairie dress (unless, of course, you have teenagers, and then they may think you’re “cringe”).
You have photo-worthy moments in your everyday reality where you’re laughing with your children, where you’re giving tender kisses and building beautiful memories.
Even if no one is there to capture them.
On the off chance you find yourself comparing your reality to the photos you see on an app-in case no one has told you today-there are many faces to motherhood. And no matter your face today, know that you are the perfect parent for your child. Whether you have lost your temper or you’re singing & dancing to Disney karaoke or if you’ve had a breakdown (or ten) or you’re DIY-ing your own kinetic sand recipe for some memory-making sensory play…you were hand selected for this. And you are doing an amazing job.