“Don’t compare your everyday life to someone else’s highlight reel.”
Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. They are constant reminders of what I am lacking. That girl from high school whose son is a week younger than my daughter? He rolled over weeks ago. My friend from college who has a million and one pictures of her happy baby smiling and laughing? I have to work for hours to get a hint of a smile from my girl and she has only ever laughed once. The pictures and posts from everybody else’s lives seem to mock me. If you knew more about babies, yours would have rolled over weeks ago too. If you didn’t spend all of your time crying and worrying and obsessing, you would have a happy baby too. You’re not good enough. And because of you, now your baby isn’t good enough either.
My husband has often asked me to unfriend these people who I compare myself and my baby to. He tells me all the time, “Don’t compare your everyday life to someone else’s highlight reel.” (Although he is quite the wise sage, he didn’t make this up; we heard it once in a movie or saw it on a Pinterest eCard or something. So if you are the original speaker of said quote, I apologize for not giving you proper credit.)
I’m sure these friends don’t post these things on purpose to make me feel inferior. And you know how I know that? Because yesterday, when I was showing my pictures from Facebook to my sister, it hit me: I am doing the same thing.
My pictures and posts tell a lie. Or maybe not so much a lie as a half truth. Ok, probably more like a 1/16 truth. In my pictures, my baby looks happy. I look well-adjusted. It looks like our days are filled with rainbows and sunshine and butterflies. But really, those are the fleeting moments. I don’t get in a picture with my daughter unless I’m showered and wearing something other than yoga pants and a vomit-covered t-shirt. And a trifecta like that only happens about every eleventh day. I don’t take pictures when she’s in the middle of an epic crying session, or when we’re both covered in her poop. For one, pictures are the last thing on my mind in those moments. All I’m thinking about is survival. And why would I want to remember those moments anyway?
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I am talking to someone about the struggles of being a new mom and ask them to share details from their own experience and they respond, “Oh, I forget. You forget about that stuff.” Seriously? You forget about the exhaustion? You forget how the sound of your baby’s screams makes its way into your very soul? You forget how you feel so incompetent, so unsure, all of the time? How? How is that possible? How is it possible to forget what your life was like 99.9% of the time?
But you know why people forget? Because all they have left of that time is their own highlight reel. So eventually I will probably have to eat my words and admit to some scared, stressed out new mom who can’t help but Facebook stalk all the other new moms she knows that I forget too. Because the everyday life? That’s just what makes the highlight reel so easy to remember. My baby might not be all smiles, but when I earn a grin, I feel like I just won an Oscar. My baby may have waited a little longer to roll over, but when she did, my heart swelled with pride. I want to forget the everyday life. I have to or else it would be too hard to keep going. But I need it to be able to appreciate and enjoy those special moments. I survive the everyday life, and I live for the highlight reel.