Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Newsflash: Our Kids are Not as Perfect as they Seem on Instagram

I had had it up to HERE with my kids. It was 4:30pm, I had played referee, broken up fights, dealt with unruly tantrums, yelled at the top of my lungs, cooked two dinners, cleaned the boat over and over and over again, picked up toys, broken up more fights... and I. Was. Done. I walked down the dock with two girls happily running ahead of me and one lagging behind and I had defeat written all over face and body. I was tired, I was angry, I desperately wanted a break... A nice man stopped to politely let Mira pass (the lagger behinder of our posse), at which point she scowled at him, planted her feet firmly on the pavement, crossed her arms and yelled, "NO!" Aren't they charming, I thought? I looked up to the sky in frustration. Why are my kids such jerks sometimes!?! Sigh. "I'm sorry," I told the gentleman wearily, "She is a stubborn little child." I stood, waiting for Mira and as the man passed me he said casually, "She doesn't seem stubborn on your blog..."

I wasn't quite sure how to take the comment as there was no follow up conversation after that, I believe more than anything it was an honest observation. But it got me to thinking, "She doesn't seem stubborn on my blog but...isn't it understood that my kids are ages four and two and, at the end of the day, normal kids with 'asshole tendencies'?" (Yes, I'm sorry to swear but toddlers definitely can have asshole tendencies and if yours do not, well...congratulations). After some thought I came to the conclusion that maybe based on our Facebook and Instagram accounts, our pretty pictures and sweet updates of our goings-ons, people really did think our life and kids are perfect and, well, I am here to tell you loud and clear: OUR LIFE AND KIDS ARE NOT PERFECT.

***

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for our life and I love our kids more than I can possibly articulate, but should you ever meet them, you must remember that what I share in photos and blogs are snippets of time, and - yes - mostly happy times (of which there are many!) but do not expect them to be adorable little robot children who will run when you call and hug when you bend down to greet them. I mean, sometimes they do that, and sometimes they are absolute angels...but sometimes Haven will look you straight in the eye when you give her a friendly "Hello!" and say, "I. Don't. Like. You" with clipped, perfect articulation just to drive the point home. Sometimes Mira will stick her tongue out you as you wave to her and Isla might just have a little "diva" moment if you ask for a high-five. Believe me, we are working on squishing these bad habits (behavior charts for the win!) but in the meantime, understand that our girls are not always happy, smiling, perfect creatures doing adorable things in beautiful locations. PLEASE do not be fooled into thinking that our girls are any different than other kids simply because we live on a boat in the islands. For example, I have Googled the following over the last few weeks: "Am I screwing up my kids?" "Are my kids jerks?" "How to deal with a "spirited" child?" (Good LORD how do you deal with a spirited child!?!) "Do I yell too much?" and "Tactics of the Super Nanny" No real conclusions have been reached based on these rather futile searches, but what I did discover during these forays into the interwebs was a bunch of other moms on the same page as I; confused, a little lost and worrying that we might be dropping the ball.

But we are not dropping the ball, and I know that. We're doing a lot of stuff right and we're doing some stuff wrong. It's inevitable. This is parenting and nobody, NOBODY gets it right all the time. I have my mommy strengths; an extremely affectionate nature, very patient (to a point), and an instinctual aversion to helicoptering (to name a few)...and I have my parental weaknesses: a temper, a need to 'control', and an almost OCD-like need for order (kind of hard with three tots!). These traits (along with many more from both Scott and me) will play out in our children's lives in one way or another. Some will have positive consequences, some will have negative consequences some will just be. Our parents screwed things up, their parents screwed things up before them and our great-grandparents before that... the cycle goes back to the beginning of time. But with every generation, we learn, we tweak, we change tacks and do our best. We do our best. We have all turned out okay (well, most of us anyway) and our kids (most likely) will follow suit and do the same. They will not be perfect, but they will be okay.

***

Social media in a lot of ways is a wonderful thing; it's brought me a tremendous amount of satisfaction, joy, friendship and community to my life. But there is a yin to the yang and I think the one-sided nature of it is part of that. We share the prettiest pics, the happiest times and everyone's life looks pretty damn awesome. But the truth is, no one knows what is really going on behind the curtain and things are not always what they seem. We have our struggles just like anyone else. They might not be the same struggles you have, but there are bumps in the road none the less. Our marriage is far from perfect (have your read about the divorce rate for parents of twins? YIKES!), Scott has very little work/life balance, we run a business that is constantly eating away at family time (there's no such thing as time "off" when you own a biz), we live a very public life that can be open to scrutiny (both outspoken and covert) and we have three children ages four and under. Two of them are two year old twins. (It. Is. Intense). It's not easy and it is a lot of work. But along with all that are all the positives. We own our own business. We live on a gorgeous tropical island. We just bought a beautiful new boat. We have three healthy children who are the loves of our lives. We have wonderful friends. We have a loving family. We meet interesting people every single day. Our girls have a wonderful, adoring community around them. We spend 90% of our awake time outside, in nature. We have so, so, so much....We are very lucky. When I am sharing our happy moments, I am just that: Happy. I am grateful and it's my nature to see the positive in things in life rather than dwell on the negative. But there is negative, make no mistake. Just because you don't see it, does not mean it's absent.

***

So when you scroll through our blog and our Instagram account, or when you toggle through my Facebook posts, please remember: we might not be in the exact same boat, but in one way shape or form, we are all in the same boat, somehow, someway, it all evens out in the wash. Where you might thrive, I might struggle. Where I struggle you might thrive. And it might not be so obvious based on the tiny percentage of our life that I share. So if and when you meet our (adorable, spirited, slightly feral, strong-willed, beautiful, wild and precocious) little girls and they are less than charming to you, my sincerest apologies. And if you meet them and they are the wonderful little creatures I prefer to highlight and chronicle every day, know you caught us on a good day.

12 comments:

Jeff "jefro" Brittain said...

It is so funny, I was reading a post in another blog "waiterrant" that was dealing with this very same thing! Must be something in the air.

Jenettes said...

You mean you and your family are human and real?! That cannot be! LoL
As much as I enjoy the internet and social media. It annoys me that people these days cannot separate what's real life and what's shared life. I, for one, would know if any 2 year old was being a jerk, that's just real life - hahaha.
I enjoy your stories and pictures, thanks for sharing your little corner of the world.

Anonymous said...

Every mother knows your "pain" ---- all have felt the same frustration along with love for the children --- thanks for sharing your life with a spirited trio of little girls and your hardworking husband. Hang in there

LittleCunningPlan.com said...

Oh my goodness! Terrific Twos and Fabulous Four! Hang on, it will get easier and better. I love me some spirited children. It will get them by in life. I always say that the parents job is to hold the spirit in their kids tight, guide it without crushing it. I've seen spiritless children. They make my heard ache. Give me a toddler who says 'no' and means it. Give me a 4 year old with opinions. Sure, you'll guide them and civilize them to a degree, but know that they will always have spirit and this is not a bad thing. I guess you should know!! I'm guessing the proverbial 'nut doesn't far fall from the tree', so to speak. :) Also, who takes photos of their kids when they are having a tantrum? Is that the time folks say, 'hey, get out the camera!'.. Not even a little bit. Anyone who has reared kids knows this to be true. Carry on. I love seeing your girls. Even with grim little faces and attitude.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are an imperfect human raising imperfect humans. (And really, really brave to be raising three little ones.) All this means is that you need to call your mother and apologize for your childhood.
Because we did all this bad stuff to our moms.
Before my mom passed I apologized to her for my behavior as a boy. She asked when I changed and grew up. I was sixty at the time. I guess some of us are a little more incorrigible than others. LOL
Hang in there, this post means you care about your girls and try to raise them to be strong capable women. It means you love them. And it shows.
God bless you.

Holly K. Turfitt said...

As a mom of three just like you,(Thomas 4, Ava and Mae, 2), I live this struggle daily. So many people comment on how "cute" and "adorable" they are on social media, but then, the complete opposite in person. We all have bad days, moments, etc, and like you, I just choose to post the happy times. Believe me, I will always remember how hard it is raising three spirited children, but what I choose to put on FB, IG, etc, are the happy moments I would like to cherish. Fist bump sista, you are AMAZING!

DUFRESNE SOPHIE said...

I had absolutely no doubt about it. :-)
And to tell you the truth, I think you are such a model on the net.
Never too much picture, always different.
You managed to make us feel part of your life, without making us feel like loosers or without grating your happiness in our face.
Truly, you have just the right balance so that we love you and your family and are proud to be a part of it, even if it's as a spectateur.
Do not change a bit.

Anonymous said...

I love your honesty. Anyone who has raised 3 princesses close to your girls ages knows that there are many down times where someone is in a timeout. I put myself in timeouts everyday. Lol. You as a parent can only do what you can. We don't get a manual when our babies are born and every generation comes with its own unique issues. As my very smart daughter says "I am the best momma for my children and you were the best momma for your children ". Enjoy the good and the not so good times. Remember this to shall pass. Take care hundreds Colleen Charlton

Laura said...

I love this post! I can relate and just wrote something very similar on our blog. I have two daughters (ages 3 and 4) and have been cruising for 7 months...so comforting to know other mothers have the same struggles. Thanks for sharing!

SailFarLiveFree said...

Amen.

Sarah Frank said...

One four-year-old and two two-year-olds here, as well. We live in the middle of a woods surrounded by 26 acres of land and whenever I take the kids outside to play in the tree house and playground they fight over everything. I had it yesterday. I yell so much; everytime I go outside with them here at the house it is utter chaos. The neighbors must hate me. Feel your pain. Never was under the impression your kids were perfect and easy...my oldest once screamed at a complete stranger because he didn't like her smiling at him. SMH. Assholes for sure.

Unknown said...

Fantastic, being the Mum of 4 we all have the same battles with little gits .
Glad to know the real sides to the beautiful days you share ,and the phrase "why do their kiddies behave so well ", while mine are fighting over everything , seems to be just my own worries.x

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