Breaking out of the Internet Prison

Posted on | March 27, 2013 | 12 Comments

Lately I’ve realized that I harbor a lot of resentment towards other moms who I feel are doing a better job at keeping it all together.  I resent when they’re well-dressed, I resent when they have time to make handmade Valentine’s, hell, I resent when they have on matching earrings.  I feel like I’m constantly in a battle to be more, do more, wear better clothes, and in general get it all together so much more often because of this crazy internet world we live in.

Because here’s the rub… 98% of the moms I’m resenting are the moms on the internet.

I’m resenting the perfect pictures, the perfect smiles, the perfectly designed bedrooms that are always perfectly clean. I’m resenting the perfect birthday parties, the perfect holiday treats, until all I’m left with is me throwing a Renee Zellweger-esque temper tantrum a la Empire Records complete with foot stamping and screaming “PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT!”

The internet has us all believing what reality TV has been trying to sell us for quite some time… that everyone else has it better.  It’s trying to make us believe that these shared pictures and “open book lives” are perfectly normal and natural and… well… real.  It’s trying to sell us on the fact that these perfect women really do exist, because look! They just shared that they had a tough day and ended up looking gorgeous in a self-photograph snapped in skinny jeans and a sweater titled “Looking like crap today. Ugh.”  Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram and Blogs have whitewashed the reality of parenthood until even the “hard” and “ugly” moments are shot through perfect filters on expensive cameras and then the rest of us sit there and throw up our hands and think “Shit. I can’t even look like that on a good day.”

It’s hard to live in this internet world as a mother or maybe even just as a woman.

It’s a 24/7 barrage of images that seem to say “Look at how perfectly I’ve done this” and leave out the “OHMIGOD MY KIDS ARE SCREAMING AND I TOOK THAT PICTURE FROM THE ONLY ANGLE IN MY LIFE THAT MAKES MY HOUSE LOOK CLEAN AND THEN I CROPPED OUT THE FROSTING DRIED ON THE CABINETS AND THE WEIRD FACE I WAS MAKING … AND… AND.” Because that’s the truth of the internet, you know.  It’s not reality.  It’s cropped and filtered and edited and re-edited until it resembles less of real life and more of the real we want to last “forever” on this world wide web.

I’m just as guilty of it as the rest.  I take a picture seventeen times before I find one that doesn’t make me feel fat, or under-dressed, or poorly made up.  I use Camera + as an editing tool to soften the edges and blur the reality.  And when I post pictures of J’s birthday, I leave off the hours spent with chocolate under my fingernails, the number of times I snapped at J to leave me alone so I could do something awesome for him, and the fact that I sat on the sofa in a daze for most of the party because all I’d really thought about was making sure it looked good from the outside.

And there’s the truth of this internet thing.  It all looks really good from the outside.  It all looks easy and simple and well-put together.  So it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the posts about a hired photo booth for a four year old’s birthday, or a themed party with hand made birthday girl signs, or how to have the best decorated cupcakes and the best best best best blah blah blah.  It’s not a race, this life we’re living, but the internet sure does make it feel that way, doesn’t it? It’s one blog post after another about how awesome we did on this or that project and very few blog posts about how it all fell apart seventeen times before that one picture got taken at that one precise moment when it looked like maybe, just maybe, we’ve got it all together.

When you look at a blog or a Facebook page, do you remember that it’s the reality they choose to share? The reality that they have tweaked and pulled and marketed and “branded” into being who they are every day? Because I find that I forget that.  And as a result, this internet closeness that we all share seems more like a prison of not enough, ever.  I’m making a conscious effort not to roll my eyes when I see another perfect party or holiday craft.  I’m making a conscious effort not to scream and pull my hair out when another working mom post pictures of her in matching shoes without the black cap missing off the bottom.  I’m making a conscious effort not to judge myself against anyone except, you know, myself.

Because this is my reality every day….

untouched

Not this.

retouchedAnd that’s got to be okay with me… just me.  Not anyone else.  Because we all live with our own reality outside the internet… even that perfectly made up mom with the perfect husband and perfect kids.  At least that’s my bet, anyway.

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  • http://mrsmidatlantic.com/ Caitlin MidAtlantic

    Haha, I love this post! I definitely do NOT get everything pulled together any day of the week. Even on my best day, I forget (or choose to not do) at least two things on my “list” of things I had “planned.” Today, I slept too late to blow-dry my hair and I completely forgot to put on any make-up. And that’s just fine with me!

    • lawmomma

      I can’t remember the last time I blow dried my hair. Honestly. I should be more embarrassed about that, I know.

  • Murphy

    This is absolutely true. Everyone who posts online posts the best picture out of 5 (or more), its human nature. I do it too, absolutely. I am guilty of taking instagram pics of things strategically placed on my marble bathroom counter–because its the only marble in my house, I have boring laminate in my kitchen.
    I finally figured this out like a year ago, I still have to remind myself of it ALL the time.

    • lawmomma

      YOU DON’T HAVE MARBLE COUNTERTOPS IN YOUR KITCHEN? And you call yourself a woman. ;) The laminate in my kitchen is peeling. It’s really pretty.

  • Kersten Larson

    I’ve been thinking about doing a real mom May post a day (in honor of Mother’s Day) for my friends of facebook. Posting the picture behind the picture (a picture of the screaming child who was pushed down that produces an amazingly darling one of the child who was the pusher delighting in his action.) Or sharing the fact that I’ve given up showering every day because I really need that 30 minutes to pick up my house. However, it may just stay an idea, because it seems like a big commitment.

    • lawmomma

      I love it!!! Although yeah… might be a lot of work to be so imperfect. ;)

  • Delia

    Oh honey, do you know how many times I made J retake a pic of C and I at Christmas because my (pregnant) face looked fat? A lot!!

    You’re not alone!

    • lawmomma

      LOL! I’m the worst at that!!! “Take that again! Delete that one! Try it from this angle…” It’s sad, really!

  • M

    AMEN!!!!!!!!!!

    • lawmomma

      Stupid comparison shopping. I always come out looking like Goodwill compared to their Ann Taylor. And not the cool, hipster Goodwill either.

  • Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    We have to stop setting ourselves up for failure by allowing the Internet, media & even other moms in daycare drop-off to set unrealistic expectations. Let’s embrace our imperfections because that’s what makes us real & relatable & endearing. I don’t ever want my daughters to feel they aren’t perfect just the way they are! Great post!

    • http://twitter.com/lawmomma77 Law Momma

      I so agree. This 24/7 onslaught of “perfection” is going to make it even harder for our children to be who they are and to feel good about who they are. That worries me tremendously!

  • Creative Commons License
    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.



  • I'm a divorced, single mom to a pre-schooler, a full-time attorney, and a semi-reluctant vegetarian. I work hard and when given the chance, I play hard... but I'm almost never given the chance.

    It's possible that I never outgrew 7th grade mentality, as I still laugh when anyone says anything that can be remotely construed as sexual. Let's face it, if you're not down with "That's what s/he said" at the end of almost any sentence, we're probably not going to get along all that well.

    I drink more than I should, I run more than I should, and I laugh as much as I can. So I'm pretty much winning at life.

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