Monday, 16 November 2015

Keeping It Real

I do have a rather annoying habit of looking through Facebook and jumping on bandwagons. Someone is cutting up sandwiches into rockets with stars, planets and asteroids flying about the lunchbox, panic sets in, I need to be doing this! I am failing in my duties as a mother by providing my boys with a boring old tuna sarnie cut into rectangles. How dare I shelter them from a life filled with more exciting ways of cutting bread. Kids at school will laugh at them if they don't have a lunch box worthy of a Nobel prize for innovation.

I scroll through my newsfeed and I read shared news articles about how mothers who use their phones too much are psychologically damaging their kids because they are unavailable for eye contact and connection at every possible minute of the day. Shit, that is me. They are talking about me. Call me paranoid but they must know that I can't go longer than 10 minutes without checking my phone to see what all the more connected families are getting up too. Baking cakes, making puppets out of old socks, creating tornados in jars and generally not sitting on the couch, phone in hand while their kids tear each other apart due to the lack of continuous social interaction from their mother.

These are just a few examples. There are many, many more. Yes I am being a little dramatic and a bit tongue in cheek but it is quite a lot of pressure when the world of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest can make you feel inadequate.

A dear friend of mine has posted a few beautiful family pictures on Facebook recently and alongside the photos, which on their own, could risk making a person feel inferior in the Pinterest Mummy stakes, she refreshingly wrote 'what the picture doesn't tell you is...' followed by a description of how I could imagine a cutting and sticking activity would play out in my own house alongside the hashtag #realparenting.

I've seen a lot of judginess on Facebook recently alongside quite a bit of unashamed bragging! What my friend wrote was a glimpse into the reality of life with kids and I found myself relating to the fact that the pictures that we post not only give others the (sometimes false) impression that our lives are rosy but also set extremely high and unachievable expectations for parents. Don't get me wrong, I partake in this 'let me show you how good I was today' photo posting as much as the next mum and what people post is their business, no judgement intended from here. What I do think is more concerning is what we or possibly just me, reads into that. It probably says more about my insecurities about my abilities as a parent than it does about what the intentions are of the person sharing their rocket sandwiches.

So I thought I'd share a few of our photo moments recently and shine the torchlight of reality on what was really going on behind the lens.

The 'They Just Love Each Other' shot - yeah they do BUT they will also step on tiny baby bunnies to be first in the sheet for a swing. The tears and snotters which preceded this picture was really something.

Yep, I take my kids to the park and just look at them. They love the chute, they adore the swings and you should see their little delighted faces as they are pushed round and round on the roundabout. Leaving is not fun. Leaving the park is the moment I dread from the moment I enter through those colourful gates of doom. I just know what's ahead of me. "5 minute warning darling, we are going to get John from school" I'm preparing him for the inevitable departure. "Time to go Jamie, lets go have fun in the playground!" NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! Followed by dropping to the ground and grasping his little tiny fingers around the metal bannister of the stairs in a vice like grip. Removing him physically from the park is like removing a member of Greenpeace from a sit in. It's not pretty. It's always loud and there's usually a 'head shaker' from the school walking past at the time.

As a teacher as well as a mother, I often feel a heightened sense of pressure when it comes to the education aspects of parenting. Before JC started school in August I had daydreams about sitting at the kitchen table with my son, bonding over homework. rejoicing over the completing the word wall and laughing about the antics of Floppy and Kipper. Oh, My, Days. It's been nothing like that. It has been the hardest hour of the day since he started school in August. "It's boring!!" he screams "I'm not doing it!" he protests. "Yes you are, sit on your butt! I shout back. Why am I shouting? Why isn't bribery working? Why is this so bloody hard? I had to do something. I had to make an effort. I turned to my friend that is Pinterest and I searched for fun and active ways to teach sight words. The photos look great! Words on balloons, treasure hunts for key words, making words out of playdoh, writing them in shaving foam, creating a words car park for him to park his toy cars in. All of these are great and stimulating for a little livewire like JC but behind the photos, it's still a hard time of night, there are nights I can't be bothered being a teacher, I just want to be a mum.

Mutley Snaps
We recently had a photoshoot with a friend of mine who takes amazing photos of animals (Mutley Snaps). Ewan doesn't normally work with humans but thankfully made an exception for me. He had the privilege of seeing first hand the level of craziness that goes on behind great photos. My boys (in my very biased opinion) are very photogenic and beautiful but getting them to stay still long enough, look in the right direction and to make it through a photoshoot without tears is a real challenge. During the hour photo shoot, Jamie managed to fall into THE biggest mud puddle he could find. He was determined to run everywhere and was tantruming, refusing to hold hands when he took off, running like a mini Wallace towards his freedom. As we turned the corner,we found him.   He was lying, face first, flat out, in the mud. This wouldn't have bothered me if he was happy about it. He cried and cried and wailed and cried until I couldn't take it anymore. We had to abandon the walk and make our way back to the car for a clothes change. As it happens, I absolutely love the photos and you would never know by looking at these adorable snaps what sort of carnage had gone on behind the scenes.

Being a parent is tough. The photos tell you nothing about the heartaches, tantrums and failures but it's not all bad. We have a hell of a lot of fun, even when it doesn't go to plan and I wouldn't change our crazy little rockets for the world. I do think it is important to keep it real though and realise that if I'm finding that it is rather crazy behind the lens, I'm sure I'm not alone.

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