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Do you fake it on Facebook, presenting a carefully-curated version of your life as a parent? I do. I joke about the hard stuff, share the good stuff (although I try not to descend into cliché or brag), but rarely share the dark moments.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad writers like Sarah Tuttle-Singer and Erin Zammett Ruddy are telling the truth about the way most of us really parent, which is imperfectly, and refusing to present a sanitized version of life with kids. I nod in recognition as I read along, feeling better that my kids aren’t the only ones who act bratty sometimes and that other mothers feel they don’t measure up to the endlessly-involved ideal I see on Pinterest.
But as for me, I can’t always keep it that real. You know that advice to fake it until you make it? Until I have this parenting thing figured out (read: never), a little editing is required.
I am someone who has walked through life generally feeling capable. I did well in school and have been successful in my career. The code wasn’t that hard to crack: hard work + being nice = positive results you can measure. Then I had kids.
Nothing has shaken my confidence more than the stubborn way in which my kids refuse to be a project I can get an A+ on. I study up, I work hard and I try to be consistent but those little buggers continue to, well, be kids. Just when one grows out of a worrisome phase, the other starts doing something that sends me burrowing through the parenting books.
So a lot of my parenting doesn't feel share-worthy. Some of it I just want to forget. But buried in the use-your-words-for-the-millionth-time drudgery are some sweet and funny truths. Take this photo of my 4-year-old son Julian on the day he graduated from preschool. Adorbs, no? Surprisingly, he was all about the tie, but we had a big to-do about getting on those shoes. ("Mommy, you do it!" "No, you’re old enough to put on your own shoes!" Repeat 27 times.) He kept running into the building as I tried to corral him for a snapshot. Then he wanted to take the photo, not be in the photo. But I finally got him to sit and pose…by promising him a lollipop.
That’s the real story behind the photo, and yet it reveals other truths: He’s a big, strong boy with a smile that makes my life. And he loved going to school so much he didn’t want a photo to keep him from even a minute of fun. I hope a year from now, that's the only part I remember.
So I share the cute photos—including the ones that are made possible by candy -- and post the best (or at least the I-can-laugh-about-it-now) things they said. Each like and sweet comment from a friend helps me move past the tough stuff. Seeing my life through an Instagram filter reminds me that despite the million different ways our family isn’t perfect, we’re still pretty darn great.
Mom of two Sasha Emmons is a writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.