I have a bit of a habit of logging into my social media, seeing the wonderful time my friends are having with their children and getting a large pang of mummy guilt. What I post on social media is a real reflection of what I’m actually doing and not a set up situation to make my life appear more interesting, so I’ve always assumed that other people do the same. When I see photos of parents snuggled together with their children reading stories, engaging in fun outdoorsy activities, taking long leisurely walks through vast British landscapes and smiling in beautifully natural photos, which are always tagged #blessed, I’ve always assumed that is a real representation of their life… until recently. How much of what we see on social is real?
We recently took a family road trip from the UK to Denmark, where we spent a few days in Copenhagen. One evening we were strolling back from Copenhagen’s bustling street food market and came across some trampolines alongside the waterfront. The boys were eager to play, so Mr. C took them over to jump around and burn off some of the energy, leaving me to sit back and take in my surroundings.
After a while two American women and a young child walked past. On seeing the trampolines they whipped out their iphones and shrieked “Oh Boomerang this”. They then found the perfect angle and started filming a few clips of one of the women jumping on a trampoline with the child. This went on for a couple of minutes before ‘the perfect one’ was filmed and then they both went to sit down on a nearby bench. They then both engaged in conversation, while one uploaded the video to their social media, neither of them returning back to the trampoline to continue playing with the child. We left about fifteen minutes later and they had barely looked at the child during that entire time… aside from the filming of the picture perfect clip of course.
On days where I have to run errands and work on the blog, my children are given chalk or a ball and sent into the garden to play. When that fails I throw on Netflix for 45 minutes in the hope it will give me enough time to get everything done. I then click onto social media and see photos and videos of my friends dancing around the garden or chasing bubbles around the living room and feel a pang of mummy guilt as I look up from my laptop screen and wonder if I’m investing in my children as much as I should be, as much as my friends on social media are… but how much of what I’m seeing is real? How many of my friends have jumped around their garden for 30 seconds in order to post content online before returning to the mundane chores or work deadlines that they need to finish?
I love social media. I love how it connects me to people hundreds of miles away and opens up topics of conversation long seen as taboo. It helps bring issues to the forefront of conversation and gives people opportunities that would otherwise have been unavailable to them and for that it should be praised. But with all the good that comes with social media, comes the ability to morph our lives into something unrecognisable and broadcast that to people all over the world. I’m aware people exaggerate on social media, we all like to gloss over the rough edges after all, but just how much of our virtual realities actually are non-realities? And among such non – realities, is there really a justified place for mummy guilt?