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Is Social media realistic ?

Monday, 22 September 2014  | 

Social media – a blessing and a curse
In the early weeks after having a baby, social media is both your lifeline to the outside world and a stick to beat yourself with on a daily basis. I don’t know how I would have survived breastfeeding through what felt like the whole night, every night, had I not had social media to keep me awake. Checking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram definitely kept me sane. But there is one golden rule to remember and it is never more important than when you have just had a baby – and that is that social media lies. In fact, it’s all one big lie.
I’m not saying that people who use social media lie – I am myself just as guilty as anyone else. You can be having the most awful day of wall to wall screaming, but that one moment when your baby looks cute and you snap a photo and post it on Instagram, saying look at my cute baby, and BANG – you are perpetuating that lie. The rest of the world goes ‘wow – her baby is so cute – mine just cries all day.’ Little do they know.
I used to read people’s blogs and look at their Instagram feeds and wonder what I was doing wrong. How did they look so happy? I spent the first few weeks in varying degrees of floods of tears! Why didn’t their babies cry? How could they go to coffee shops and not panic that their baby was going to go into some kind of crazy meltdown when their coffee had just arrived? How on earth did they make it look so bloomin’ easy?!
Then someone commented on one of my photos on Facebook and remarked how I made the perfect picture of content motherhood. WHAAAT?? That was a day when reflux had left me tearing my hair out and I had had to go over to a friend’s house to protect my sanity. I sat in her garden and Millar had a break from screaming, so she took a picture of us. We do look content and she’s right – I look like motherhood is the easiest, most natural thing in the world. In fact, my whole Facebook and Instagram are full of pictures of Millar looking adorable and cute – of us looking happy. And while now, four months on that is definitely true, the early days were tough. But do my social media accounts give that impression? Of course not.
Let’s be honest, no one wants to see what the early days were really like – the dirty nappies, the reflux, the crying, the lack of sleep, the wondering if I will ever be able to have a life again. People want to see the good bits. But as mothers we shouldn’t compare real life to other people’s social media because it won’t be what it’s really like. I’ve found myself suffering with a bit of postnatal anxiety and although I’m definitely loads better now, I really didn’t help myself by wondering why I didn’t feel as happy and content as all those mothers on the blogs I read and the Instagram photos \i look at.
But then I realised that they might feel like me too – their baby might just have had a meltdown before they snapped that gorgeous photo. In fact, when I started thinking like this, I started reading between the lines of blogs and realised that people DID find it difficult too. A beautiful photograph of friends and their baby out for a lovely family evening walk suddenly made me wonder: why are they out walking every evening? Could it be because their baby won’t settle in the evening and going out for a walk is the only thing they can do to get through the screamy evenings? I don’t know this for certain, but I realised that there is an unspoken rule in social media parenting – don’t tell anyone what it’s really like!
Millar is 20 weeks old this weekend and for the last month or so I have started to absolutely love it. My life is different, but I feel like I’m finding a way to be a bit more me rather than just a mum. He is hilarious and brilliant and definitely keeps me on my toes but we are learning about each other every day and it’s honestly great fun now. But I haven’t found it easy – whatever my Facebook page might suggest. So my biggest piece of advice to new mothers is take social media with a pinch of salt. And every now and again, upload a picture of your baby screaming. You’ll be surprised how many parents will comment that they remember that all too well!