Friday, July 12, 2013

The Flaws Behind the Fun

This is what my oldest, most mature and health-conscious kid ate at the last church picnic.
"At least I got some fruit Mom!  I would have gotten whipped cream too but it was gone."
Sigh.  We didn't have the energy to police the numerous trips of our four kids through the buffet line while chatting with church friends. 
This picture displays just a small taste of something that is very rare on the internet. 
The flaws behind the fun.
Millions of people, myself included, are posting pictures online of their successes and joys.  Selfies, ducklips (can't stand these!), pool parties, concerts, milestones, vacations, dates, new babies, joyous announcements, new clothes or toys, work promotions, etc. etc.  Not that sharing any of these things are bad; it's not.  In fact, it's great to share our joys with others and it helps us stay in touch with loved ones across the miles.  It can be very encouraging to see others' blessings.
Yet, if we're being truly honest, we'll admit that we showcase our "good" far more than we reveal our "bad."  Social media is infiltrated with self-exaltion and artificiality.  We hide behind shiny posts and happy pictures on a screen.  Statistics show that more people come away from facebook depressed instead of encouraged.  Many of my friends have talked about the pressures of Pinterest, the modern equivalent of multiple women's magazines, (though we love it dearly) or popular mommy blogs and how inadequate they can make us feel if we aren't careful in our use of them.
Sometimes we hide our flaws online without even thinking about it.  Often we do it intentionally.  Sometimes it's a desire for personal privacy, a fear of sounding weak or like a whiner, or an attempt at not dwelling on the negative in life.
Usually, it's about making ourselves look really good.
It's even easy for me to look over photo albums of years gone by and forget the flaws behind the photos.  I smile fondly at the cute pictures of our babies and forget the numerous trials we went through.
"Oh, he was so cute. Back when I only had two little ones. Life was so good and easy back then! That tiny apartment...oh so quaint. How I miss that sweet little place that was so easy to clean!"
Wait a minute....reality check please...the baby that didn't let me sleep more than 2 hours at a time for 16 months and who wanted to be held constantly? Two kids in diapers? No coat closet or space for anything in general?  The utter lack of privacy and the rude neighbor who hated kids? Sharing one washer and one dryer with 27 other people and having no windows to the outside world and no air conditioning? Wasn't I pregnant and continually nauseous when that picture was taken?


It's so easy to sugar-coat our lives we can even do it to our memories.
But doing so does little to serve the Body of Christ.
Though I love sharing fun pictures of life in our family on this blog and think that photography can be a way to glorify God and savor the little blessings in each day, I don't ever want to mistakenly give the impression that we are a great Christian family that really has it all together and doesn't struggle or bomb it big time at times.  Though I, like most people, am more likely to share about the shining moments of our life, as a way to archive our family fun and share tips here, I also want my friends and readers to know that the pictures they see are just a small part of our day.  A small 2D glimpse of a large 4D life.
The number one comment I get from people who like my writings is that they love hearing the "dirt" on us.  They love honesty and hearing about how hard our life is.  It's not because they want to see us fail or because they hate us (at least I hope not) but rather because they finally feel understood.
They get it because they're messed up too.
They are tired of people saying how great and awesome and fun life is.
Because much of the time it isn't.
Hearing someone say that it's hard, confusing, and painful is refreshing because it's true.
Hearing someone talk about fear, doubt, dicouragement, depression, or anger hits home for them.
Authenticity is a breath of fresh air.
So, this post is just a little reminder amidst a plethora of our fun summer pictures and trips. 
We are having a LOT of fun.
We are doing a LOT of great things.
But we're also having a lot of NOT FUN moments.
We're also doing a LOT of falling and failing.
If my in-real-life friends were to do a guest interview on this blog they could tell you about my kid that is constantly disobeying and my pathetic attempts to de-rail his behavior and how much more time I spend complaining about him than I do praying for him.  About the bags under my eyes some days, the crumbs on our floors, and the dirty dishes in my sink.  They could show pictures of my bad hair days and outdated sense of fashion, our weed-filled yard, and van full of random and smelly kid stuff.  They could tell you of my selfishness, my grumpiness with motherhood, my germ-o-phobic ways, how much I gossip, etc. etc. etc.  They are all truly far too nice to really rat me out with those things.......but they definitely could. 
Those things are just the tip of the iceberg.  Please don't interview my kids or my husband!
Life is difficult.  Parenting is. so. difficult.  Some evenings my husband and I can barely sit up straight and speak a sentence to one another because we are so run down.  My husband works a physically draining job that can be excruciating during the summer.  This week he drank over 300 ounces of water in one day lifting logs in 100 degree heat from dawn to dusk.  His face is red, his neck is blackened by the sun, and he thinks he has a metal shaving in his eyeball from grinding a nail this week.  He works his fingers to the bone to provide for his family. 
Twelve-hour days with my kids' constant demands for attention, overseeing 29 "food interactions" per day, refereeing approximately 4 hours of fighting a day, cleaning up at least 1 potty mess and 1 blood mess per day in addition to helping little ones in the bathroom all day, penny pinching and frugal cooking, unexpected bills, listening to ear-shattering screaming and living among these hyperactive ones, along with the endless household chores leave me feeling emotionally ragged and physically exhausted at the end of almost every day. 
I often wonder if I have what it takes to finish what we've started in parenting.
My life may look good online (cue Brad Paisley's hysterical song "Online" here), but it often feels like a train wreck to me.
The good news is that my God is big enough for this mess.
He doesn't need me to be a perfect Christian, a perfect mom, a perfect wife, housekeeper, or blogger.
In the weak things of this world, His strength is displayed more gloriously. 
He gets the credit, not me, because I can't do this without Him.
I don't need to pretend that I have it all together, because I don't.
None of us do.
But He does and He's the One I can go to for help.
So, when you read here, and share a peek at the pics of our life and consider my ramblings, keep in mind that the joyous things I share here are my efforts at digging for jewels in my difficult days. 
A way of being thankful in the midst of struggle. 
For every beautiful picture I put up of a kid with a cheesy smile, there could have also been one of a child screaming or frowning or disobeying. 
Behind all of this fun, there are flaws!
(The kids playing "Sleeping in a Camper" one day.  Of course it was probably only 5 minutes into the game that someone was kicking or screaming....or both!)


Anonymous said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Amen!!!!

Lea said...

Okay, that photo SO made me laugh!

My daughter's meal at our last church potluck included a plain hot dog bun, 3 chocolate chip cookies, a chocolate cupcake, a handful of chips and a single slice of watermelon. SIGH. Glad to know I'm not the only Mom that happens to! :)

Thanks for sharing with this post!

Bobbie said...

Wow! I can totally relate to all of this! But I only have half as many kids, I can't even fathom mine x2! :)

I am grateful my hubby doesn't have such a physically demanding job but my 52 yr. old father does- with a bad back, in our Texas heat from sun up to sun down and retirement will never be an option- and it absolutely breaks my heart. I know how you feel :(

Thanks for sharing.

Thia said...

Hmmm, I don't think that plate is a flaw. More like a memory maker. They're only young once and it's summer time. They sure are having a good time!

LS said...

Glad you enjoyed this post Anonymous!

So, your daughter and mine would be great eating buddies at a potluck I guess!

I hope that eventually your Dad can retire or find an office job. I think my hubby works way too top it all off he works for his Father-in-law, and my dad is a slave driver (I used to work for him too as a teen!)

Maybe for most parents this pic isn't so bad, but we go to a LOT of picnics and BBQ's and my friends (and I too) are very, very health conscious so this is a big no-no!

Anonymous said...

You nailed it! I've been enjoying your posts for a long time, and I think this one is one of the best!

Peachtree said...

I totally appreciate this kind of post! Always love to know FOR SURE that everyone else is real too. And yet, one part of me says, why can't we just rejoice when someone else has a good day? I come to the Mommy blogs to be inspired and uplifted, not to whine about what a hard lot we have . . . These reality type posts are also inspiring when done with the right spirit, but I don't think I'd stick very long with a grumbling 'realist' sort of blogger.

Just another angle to think about.

Peachtree said...

And oh my, that plate! How often my own children do the same thing! I console myself with the thought that at least we don't do that very often, but it is something I've seen before too!

LS said...

You make a great point Peachtree! There has to be a good mix of "real" and rejoicing, because too much of the negative can be discouraging and too much of "my life is so awesome and perfect" can be discourage. Good thoughts!

Pin It
Pin It
Pin It