My Instagram feed is perfect, but my marriage certainly isn't.
Instagram is a beloved way to show the world little bits and pieces of our lives, cropped down to a square and filtered for maximum effect. Some people use the photo community to build their business, their brand, or their ego. Others simply use it as a way to document and share stuff that would probably otherwise go unnoticed. But anyone who's ever posted to Instagram also knows how much work can go into something as simple as a snapshot; if you frame it just right, you can crop out all the chaos and clutter behind you. If the lighting is just so it makes it look as though you live in a magical world where the sun is always shining. If you catch a face at the right moment, screaming fits of terror look like fantastic memories of fun.
Here's what I've learned in my two years of using Instagram: people show you what they want you to see. Rarely do people post the mundane and sometimes ugly bits of their day to day life. Even if I do share the ugly bits, I choose to frame and light them well and caption them with something witty and relatable. Some photos really do come with fond memories and a little chuckle, while others are almost too painful to look back on. When it comes to what we post on Instagram, how often is what we see the whole truth? Answer: Not very often. Case in point:
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE: The windstorm that came out of nowhere moments later that pelted people with sand and water that felt like thousands and thousands of tiny needles. There was so much screaming and panic, I wouldn't have remembered it even being beautiful had I not taken this photo moments before the weather turned.
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE: The tears anger and fights we had to put up with for a week to get her to nap. We KNEW she was tired, she knew she was tired but she was so afraid of missing something that convincing her to nap was one of the most dreaded (yet necessary) parts of the day.
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE: How tired and frustrated I was at being a single parent on this weekend trip because Cody had come down with the stomach flu and was near death, moaning in a hotel room They were running so they would stop screaming at each other.
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE: That I shamelessly ate the entire donut while huddled in a shady corner, snarling at anyone who dared come close.
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE: All the screaming and fighting that happened because one kid just wanted to play in the fort while the other one wanted very structured rules about who went where, what could be done how and what space belonged to whom. Fort building is an enormous, frustrating waste of time for everyone involved.
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE: Our oldest child sobbing on the beach because she was terrified of falling in Her fear carried over to her little sister who soon began to whimper and bawl that she wasn't having any fun. "We paid $10 to rent this boat for the hour! QUIT CRYING AND HAVE FUN!"
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE How absolutely miserable I was in this photo. By the time this photo was taken I already had plans in place to leave my life in Indiana and begin a new one somewhere else. I may have looked fancy to this day, I can still remember how suffocated and alone I felt in this photo.
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE This was the beach I sat on for HOURS thinking about what I was going to do with myself. Go back to my husband and family? Stay out west and try to start over again? I sat with my eyes closed listening to the waves until I forgot where I was.
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE: This was taken the day I came back to my husband after several weeks away. He had just picked me up at the airport and we were driving home, determined to make our marriage work. It's crazy how much I missed how natural my hand feels in his.