The Thousand Words Not In The Picture

You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? What they should really say is that there are thousands and thousands of words that the picture doesn’t even allude to. Sometimes the picture is a complete fabrication.

My parents are staying at our house right now and two nights ago my mom was on my computer, flipping through my FB pictures. (She can, of course see these any time, as she’s one of my “friends” but she probably doesn’t know how to do that.) Watching over her shoulder I realized that as far as FB is concerned I have an idyllic life. And of course I do, when it comes down to what really matters. But when you look at the day to day, my life is not anything like what you see on FB.

Take a photo I posted yesterday.


Looking at that photo you’d think, oh, how cute! They are both wearing their robes, staying cozy on a chilly night! And of course, we were both wearing our robes, along with those big, happy smiles. And those smiles weren’t fabricated per say, we were both feeling happy when we took that picture. It was a fun moment and I’m glad it was captured on “film.”

Except that moment was one of only a handful of positive moments that day. In fact, yesterday was one of the hardest days we’ve had at our house in a long time. Osita was being incredibly contrary. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. was a giant struggle. It took us forever to get her to eat her breakfast, to put on her clothes, to pee and brush her teeth, to get into the car, to walk to the zoo entrance to… well you get the picture. She fought us every step of the way, even though the whole day we were trying to do things for her! It was infuriating. And exhausting. And even with my parents around as back up, we felt like we’d been run over by mack trucks by the time it was over.

Did I mention she didn’t take a nap either?

Yeah, it was an incredibly long day. And not one I’d ever want to post on Facebook.

Actually, sometimes I wish I could post it on Facebook. And I certainly DO post little snippets of these days because I’m not trying to imply that my life is perfect with the stuff I put on social media. But most people don’t want to hear all the bad stuff and so I keep those snarky snippets to a minimum and mostly just post photos of my cute kids.

But those photos do NOT tell the whole story and I feel like that should be acknowledged more than it is. Or maybe it doesn’t need to be, because we all know that it’s not like that all the time, or ever half of the time. Heck, it’s only like that 1% of the time. That is why we take pictures of those moments! Because they are fleeting and wonderful and we want to remember them, not just years from now when our children are grown but moments from now when our children are driving us so crazy we’re considering throwing them into the grizzly bear enclosure instead of taking pictures in front of it.

I know I’ve written about this before. I actually think about it a lot. I was thinking about it as we dragged our contrary three year old into the zoo this morning. (She wanted to go I swear! At least she said she did.) I was thinking, we’ll get one good picture and post it on Facebook and everyone will think we had such a great time seeing all the animals as a family, when really it was a tortuous struggle every step of the way.

Turns out we never even got that great shot, that’s how hard today ended up being. But later we got a cute picture and it went up on social media and it told a story that frankly, feels somewhat untrue. Was it a lie? A half-truth? Does the implication of the life we lead when posting that picture mean something? Or is it true as long as we didn’t photoshop anything in during post production?

Perhaps I’m over thinking all of this. I suppose it matters to me because of my time in the confines of infertility and loss, when the images of other’s happy children on social media were so painful for me. Even after I had my daughter and I started to realize how one sided the story those pictures told really was, they still hurt me. When I was struggling with secondary infertility, every picture of two happy siblings together was like a knife to my heart. Even when I KNEW there must have been five challenging, or downright impossible, moments for every one like in the picture, it still felt like a small part of me died every time. And now I put those pictures up and it probably seems like my days are filled with unicorn farts and fairy queefs and sometimes I just want to assure everyone that no, it’s not. The unicorn farts and fairy queefs are fairly fleeting, in fact.

But I don’t and I suppose no one expects me to. And I suppose that is because no needs to be told that it’s actually much harder than it appears on Facebook because the difficulties of parenting are common knowledge. And I suppose I didn’t need to be reminded of that when those sibling pictures stepped on my soul, because I already knew. Maybe we don’t need to know because it doesn’t matter. Maybe life isn’t about all those really hard moments, the ones that absolutely outnumber the good (at least in the early years). Maybe life is about those fleeting but amazing moments that we want to preserve in pictures and post up so everyone can see. Maybe that is the whole point of life, and we don’t acknowledge the difficulty because we choose, ultimately, to look past it, because the good that comes of it is so, so, SOOOOOOO good, and somehow makes all the rest of it so, so SOOOOOO worth it.


5 responses

  1. I think it goes without saying, on FB and social media in general, that life is hard and trying. I certainly don’t look at my friends’ awesome, fun photos and think that their days are nothing but laughter and perfection. However, B will look at their trip photos and seem to assume that all they do is travel, and it can get him down (good God, grow the eff up!). But in general, I think we all know that the cute photos are just little snippets in a normal, boring, or difficult day.

    I tend to over-post on FB. My parents live 2 hours away and my sisters live 5 and 18 hours away, so it’s how we keep up on each others lives. But even with that being said, I know I post too much. The kids do cute, or fun, or naughty things, and I post them. I posted a picture two weeks ago of Matthew having a meltdown due to the DST change. It was a moment in our lives that had some meaning, it was sort of unbelievable, and I felt the need to share. I share it all. The good, the bad, the meltdowns. Ha!

    You’re not being disingenuous by posting just the good stuff!

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

  2. I can totally relate to this lately. I post all these sweet, happy photos of my baby on FB. What about the moments where he is crying and I am crying with him? Most of the pictures I take tend to be after he’s breast fed because the moment after he feeds are the calmest for both of us. I guess I would say that all of the difficult moments don’t negate the good ones. So you two in the robes with huge smiles? That really happened. And it matters.

    P.s. even though I’m not commenting, I am reading ALL of your posts while nursing and they are so helpful because they hit me so close to home.

  3. I love this post, and your analysis here. So important to think about and hear. I’m impressed by your lucidity despite the challenges that you are dealing with right now! I’m sorry to be awol from commenting but wordpress decided that your blog didn’t exist and I thought you weren’t blogging. The thrush sounds so awful. You are doing a great job. Hugs to you!

  4. I can totally relate to this post. Sometimes I like posting on FB, because I realize I can make my life look as happy and perfect as everyone else’s. And everything I’m writing is 100% true. The cute pictures, the funny one-liners from my son. I rationalize that if I can present myself that way, then their lives probably aren’t any better than mine. But then there are other times, when I’m really frustrated or depressed, that I don’t have the energy to make my life look positive at all, when it just feels like a big lie to take the one happy thing out of a day of stress and make it look like that’s how my life really is.

  5. Yes I definitely relate to this. The million pictures UNTAKEN are what really define true life, while everyone sees the carefully selected highlights (or lowlights, I do know some “sad-booking” types, that post for sympathy). I always laugh when someone mentions all the cute/funny things my boys must do since I put those on FB. Its all a show! You saw the 3 cute/funny things they did all week! Yet, no matter how aware I am of the phenomenon, I do tend to forget it when I’m seeing other people’s seemingly perfect lives.

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