The Pinterest Illusion

The internet is teeming with lonely, exhausted mom bloggers (*lifts hand*). At times, it feels like the internet is our only connection to other adults. As such, we turn to it for support, for advice, for inspiration, and for company. We also look to it for validation, and this comes with certain risks.

If you are of a particular generation, and have kids, or friends with kids, you’re inevitably going to see the words “Mommy Wars” and “Sanctimommy” popping up all over the place.  But, I firmly believe that these so-called wars are occurring almost entirely in our own heads as a result of what I like to call the “Pinterest Illusion.”

The fact is, what most people post on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter is a highly edited, carefully curated sample of highlights, not the blooper reel.

We look at our own lives: the tantrums, the unidentifiable sticky puddle on the kitchen floor, the piles of mis-matched socks, the KD for dinner (again). Then we open pictures of smiling babies wearing cloth diapers and hand-knitted sweaters and eating organic

IMG_20121011_113939.jpg

Not wearing cloth diapers

homemade peas in sparkling kitchens. The funny thing is, that picture was taken five minutes before that baby started to scream and splatter peas all over the sparkling kitchen, the homemade sweater, and the tearful mom suffering from post-partum depression.

We look at that perfect picture, and feel it is a judgment. It isn’t. Let me repeat, IT ISN’T. Mom posted that picture in hopes of creating some sort of illusion of sanity and peace in her life. This is the Pinterest Illusion.

The choices we make are not judgments of others.

If I choose to breastfeed my child until he is three or bottle feed from birth, it is not a comment on your choice. If I choose to co-sleep with my child or put him in a crib, it is not a comment on your choice.  If I choose to feed my children McDonald’s or ethically-raised, fair trade, vegan, gluten-free, organic, free-range tofu for dinner, it is not a comment on your choice (though it might be a comment on my understanding of the word “free-range”).

These are simply the best answers I could come up with out of the ridiculous amount of information and advice out there, combined with my particular set of life circumstances and stressors. They’re going to be different than your answers, and that’s ok.

But, we see moms make different choices on the internet, and they make us question our own. The differences make us defensive. But, different is ok. We all have different information and different circumstances that will lead to different choices. My choice is not an attack on yours!

I’m not denying the fact that “sanctimommies” are out there. I’m sure they are. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but, the vast majority of moms I see on the internet are perfectly nice, normal humans just trying to make sense of all of the information out there, doing the best they can, and most importantly…supporting each other! The only evidence I can find of the existence of “sanctimommies” is blog post after blog post lashing back against these judgmental mothers who take it upon themselves to correct everyone else.  Where are these judgmental mothers? Maybe you’ve met one, but you can’t pretend that’s the norm.

Does posting the highlights of one’s life rather than bloopers make a person a “sanctimommy?”

I threw my son a stupidly elaborate Harry Potter party. When I posted pictures on Facebook, I put up pictures of the homemade wands, the Honeydukes goody bags, the platform 9 ¾ door hanging, my son in his costume, the potions, and all the decorations.

What I did not post was a picture of the kid crying when he lost his wand. I didn’t post the fact that we had exhausted all activities after 15 minutes and that some of the kids ran screaming around the house while some were trying to watch the movie.  I didn’t post the beautiful dinner that was barely touched by any of the children and I didn’t post the mess we had to clean up afterwards. I didn’t post the eye-rolls of the kid who thought the activities were lame, and I didn’t post about the anxiety I experienced from having to throw two birthday celebrations in two days. But these things happened.IMG_20150730_152900056

I regularly blog about outdoor activities, and show my smiling kids playing outside, but I don’t post pictures of me fighting to get them out the door, or the laundry I had to do after one of them intentionally sat in a mud puddle. Why would I? Would you?

We can turn to the internet for advice and for inspiration, but we can’t use it to evaluate our own lives. We all have our talents, and we all have our shortcomings. There are good days and there are bad days.

We are all in this together, so let’s stop pretending there’s a war.

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