The Challenges of Being an Honest Mom in a Facebook World

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(Article contributed by Leigh Ann Jewett. Read more about all our writers here.)

To others, this looked like the perfect family experience.

I know it’s March, but let’s talk about Halloween costumes. And social media. And honesty in general.

Our five year old, Charlie, chose our Halloween costumes about a year in advance. She decided she would be Sleeping Beauty, and my husband, my toddler and I would be the three fairies. I made my first trip to a fabric store to make this a reality. My husband and I taped, glued and sewed what we couldn’t find online. This was the end result.

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We got a lot of attention. My husband especially got many shout outs (some whistles) about what an amazing father he must be to go along with this. People were delighted by us at every turn. We got tons of comments and likes online too. Charlie had a great time. Total success, right?

NO. No no no no.

Here’s the truth about what really happened.

This day was the WORST! Ben and I were completely at our wits end. We were super sweaty and uncomfortable and it was fully on display in our attitudes. Those adorable hats? They got knocked off our heads about 20 times each. And when it happened I wasn’t like “Oh this darn hat. Shucks.” I was like “If this hat gets knocked off my head one more time I will fly into a blind rage and start flipping over cars in the street hulk-style.” Oh, and our toddler! She never stopped crying the whole night. This is literally the best picture of her we could get.

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You can see the blurry image of us trying to bribe her into smiling with a cracker. So much fun.

And it was raining.

Then there’s what we tell people about what happened.

Ben and I kept our feelings (mostly) to ourselves in front of Charlie, and she still had a great time.

The weird part about it is that this is the first time I’m really saying anything about how miserable I was that day. I posted my pictures online and thanked people for their comments and when people said how cute or how fun, I just said Yeah! Smiley face.

I’m starting to think that there is something lost in sharing so much of my parenting experience online. (Yes I do see the irony of me sharing this personal revolution online, but stay with me.) While I’m sharing surface level experiences with more people than I ever have, it’s keeping me from actually talking about anything with a friend face to face and there by revealing the less flattering elements as the conversation unfolds.

And because those things are left unsaid, I miss out on advice and camaraderie.

When I am actually face to face with a friend, and I consider mentioning things going on in my life, I think, “Well, I won’t bring that up, she probably already saw it on my Facebook.”

There is a definitely parallel in my prayer life too. I believe and tell my children that God is with us wherever we go. I also tell Charlie that it is important that we pray because God loves to talk to us, but I haven’t done a good job modeling that. I neglect my prayer life, and to a certain degree (beyond laziness and poor time management) it’s because I think to myself, well He knows, He was there. He saw it on my Facebook.

But I miss out. Big.

God made us to be relational, to have these emotional connections to Him and to others. And not just through a screen. I want my daughters to see me modeling caring, personal and honest relationships with family and friends, and especially with God. My girls can’t see what I’m saying online, I need to show them how sharing your life works in person.

Sure it will be uncomfortable, but not three fairies for Halloween uncomfortable, so I know I can handle it. And the reward is immeasurably greater.

Photo credit: Lenka

Originally Published 3/2/2016

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