I was visiting with a friend, recently, when she confessed to me a mutual acquaintance had seen my Instagram, and said (half-joking), “I want her life!”
At first, I was flattered. Then, flattery quickly turned to sadness. Sadness, because it meant that I must have portrayed a false image of myself. A life in which my filtered, organized fairy tale made someone else’s life feel “less than.” Social media is to blame for much of this, I suppose. It’s not often that I Instagram a sink full of dirty dishes (#Blessed) or chronicle how a goldfish fell out when I finally brushed my hair at 3 p.m. I sell people on “lifestyle” for a living as a publicist – so not only would it be unattractive, but it would likely be detrimental to my career as well.
It’s a hard time to be a woman. We must be career driven, but not so much that we don’t have time for the PTA, thin (but not too thin, because men like “curves… What?!), our houses always clean, our children fed foods that were planted by fairies, our nails always manicured, our sex lives and marriages perfect and fulfilling, and did I mention we must be very, very thin? I got tired just writing that.
A few weeks ago, I decided I could not be all these things all the time. I don’t have the capacity, and neither do you, regardless of whatever lie Cosmopolitan tries to sell you. If you do all that, and are still happy and sane, you are either on drugs or certifiable or both. I decided something had to be thrown out. I started with dinner. No, I didn’t throw out dinner (although, given my cooking skills, it belonged in the trash more than the table).Mommy blogs had made me feel like frozen food would be the catalyst for the apocalypse, but alas, my children and husband are still thriving in spite of their useless chef mom.
I understand where my friend was coming from. I’ve lusted after someone’s life before. I have a friend who is beautiful, polished, organized, and successful. She’s the kind of person who sits on the board of charities, hosts gorgeous themed parties, and cooks big, delicious meals. One of the saddest – but simultaneously honest – moments of our friendship was when she admitted she didn’t have it all together. That she was suffering, hurting. That her life wasn’t always as perfect as it appeared. It gave me great relief to know I wasn’t the only one, and I suppose it relieved her to know that I often felt the same, even if it was in different parts of my life. In this season – particularly of motherhood – it is important to speak your truth. It’s startling how many people it can help, and how close it can bring you to others.
My life is far from perfect. I have to let my husband manage all of our money, because if I did, our credit score would be exactly twelve and we would live in a cardboard shack. I can only look presentable maybe three times a week. I have pesky pounds that cling to my midsection and stretch marks that make my belly button look like it’s frowning all the time. I cannot cook.
But, my life is really great. Not magazine great, but great. Good. Good enough. I provide laughter, love, and Jesus to my kids and so far, I’m doing a good job. They’re alive. Happy, even. My marriage suffers from contentment and exhaustion (two kids under two is no joke), but also flourishes in laughter, love, friendship, and commitment. So, no. I don’t want to read “10 Ways to Have it All” or “25 Ways to Create a Perfect Marriage” because I don’t want perfect. Good enough is just that. Good enough.
So, next time you see one of my Instagram posts, with smiley faces and coordinated outfits consider what’s just outside of the frame: a full sink of dishes waiting to be washed. #NoFilter
Feature Image Photograph c/o Amy Nolan Photography