The other night, my 3-year-old daughter was having a fit because I couldn’t figure out what TV show she wanted me to put on. She kept screaming that it was about a “a girl who doesn’t like spiders and wants her tooth back!” Naked, because she had just gotten out of the bath, red-faced, and lips aquiver, she shook the remote control in my face and spat, “Find it. Put it on!”
The whole scene cracked me up. I couldn’t figure it out fast enough and she was pissed. So, I did what every self-respecting mom does when her toddler is shrieking and in distress. I took her picture.
That photo, and the story behind it, will live in infamy for me. It will go into her scrapbook (when I get around to making it in 2025), and one day when she’s upset over something much more important to her older self, I’ll remind her of this incident.
I used to take loads more bad (read: messy) photos of my kids. I’m talking about photos when they were doing stuff that might make me look (gasp!) less than mother-of-the-year-worthy. I took pictures when they were crying or having a tantrum. I sometimes posted about these instances on my blog.
Here’s an example. First, a pre-meltdown pic...
... and then the "messy" photo.
But now, my kids are older. Specifically, my older daughter, Eva, is almost 7 years old, and in first grade, which means she is basically already a tween and cares more about her overall personality and appearance than she did a few years ago. When I posted a silly photo of her on Facebook recently and a friend later commented on it in front of her at the playground, Eva was embarrassed and I made a mental note to start keeping those off-the-cuff photos to myself.
But even if I don't post these photos on social media, taking them for my own prosperity has become a way to remind myself along the way that parenting isn’t a science. It’s an art. Some days it’s pop art. Other days it’s abstract or super pretty like an impressionistic painting. Let’s face it, most of the time parenting is a whole bunch of splatters all over the place. Jackson Pollock, people! I have a lot of Jackson Pollock days.
Do I ever feel the urge to post the more artful images? Heck, yes! But not for the reason you think. I think Facebook (and social media in general) makes parents feel this ridiculously unnecessary pressure to showcase everything as perfect and pretty when it simply isn't. On the contrary, life with kids is rarely picture-perfect. It’s not supposed to be symmetrical or well-balanced like your favorite Ansel Adams photograph.
I don't know why we're all afraid to say that we mess up or are only trying our best, or that this parenting shtick is hilarious sometimes. So, just for today, here’s one more photo.
(This was Halloween. Eva dressed as monkey. Her uncles dressed as “guy in wig” and Freddie Mercury. #terrorized #buthilarious)
P.S. In case you’re curious: The show my little one was freaking out about is a short 11-minute episode series called “Little Princess.” It’s British, I find it semi-creepy as the narrator has a pervy voice ... and yep, the princess hates spiders and in the very first episode she loses a tooth and asks if she can have it back.
Meredith Franco Meyers has written for Fit Pregnancy, Momtastic, Ladies' Home Journal, American Baby, The Bump, SELF, Parents.com, and more. She is a contributing editor for EuroCheapo.com and is on the faculty at Gotham Writers' Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two girls (ages 6 and 3). Follow her on her blog, Stay-at-Home Writer, or via Twitter.
Images via iStock.com/Jane Norton; Meredith Franco Meyers