According to Facebook, this is how I spent my Saturday with the kids:
My children and I woke up with the sun, smiling and ready to kick ass and “make it a great day.” My hair was shiny. My smile, too. We drank our morning drinks in latte cups—frothy foam mustaches lacing our lips. We played backgammon, our skin mottled by drops of shade in the morning light. We went for a walk in the orchards, and we danced between emerald leaves like fairies. We rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers.
‘Cuz that’s how we roll: Just another day being totally awesome. And while all of this is basically true, I’m also full of shit. Here’s how it really went down:
My children and I did wake up with the sun. Waaaay too early because someone forgot to close the blinds the night before. Sure, they were smiling and ready to kick ass and “make it a great day.”
So we brushed our teeth and took turns peeing.
“Mama, why does your vagina have a tail?”
“Oh, that’s a tampon.”
“What’s a tampon?”
“Tampons go inside your vagina.”
“Because they stop the blood from coming out of your vagina.”
My kids took it all in stride.
“Why do you have blood in your vagina?”
“Every month if there isn’t a baby in my uterus, I have blood. It doesn’t hurt, and the tampon stops it from getting in my underwear.”
“I want a tampon,” my son said. I gave him a clean one. He unwrapped it, grabbed the string, and hit his sister on the ear.
We ate leftover schnitzel and chocolate cake. Breakfast of champions, people. And I took several “spontaneous” pictures of all of us smiling with a camera timer. (“Come on . . . Please. Smile, dammit! Look happy!”)
The kids went back to the TV, and I hit up Facebook to see what everyone else was doing. Most of my Facebook friends with kids were telling their Saturday stories for the world to “like.” Homegirl posted a picture of her and her brood frolicking in a field of red poppies. (And I felt a twinge of envy.)
I clicked “like.”
Another friend wrote, “My hubby makes the best pancakes for our little man.” (And I threw up a little in my mouth.)
I also clicked “like.”
And not to be outdone, I uploaded our new pictures. “Sunny Saturday!” I wrote in the status. I’m not a total liar. I’m just good at PR.
We were on the third cycle of Beauty and the Beast when the Internet went out. I started to shake. I couldn’t breathe. My window to the outside world was shuttered and locked.
And, guess what? Now I have to actually spend my entire weekend with the kids; actually with the kids.
And here’s the dirty little secret that I’ll never admit on Facebook: I love my kids every freaking second. Would I die for them? You bet. Would I kill for them? Hurt my child, and I will cut you. But I don’t always want to be with them.
Yes, we did drink out of oversized coffee mugs. But my son spilled his hot chocolate all over the floor.
Yes, we did play backgammon—but by “play backgammon” I really mean we built towers out of the backgammon chips for a grand total of two minutes and thirty-three seconds before my daughter realized that two of the white pieces were missing and her tower would never be as big as her brother’s.
Yes, we went for a walk in the orchards. But within minutes, we were soaked in mud and our feet were cold. And both kids were whining because the clementine juice stung their fingers.
Yes, we rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers. But just one song before my kids took the CD player hostage and put on a Disney singalong.
Yes, there were blissful moments on that Saturday with my kids—moments I quickly captured in photographs and Facebook statuses, like butterflies pinioned to a board. “Look everyone! Look! My kids are happy! I’m happy! We’re happy!”
And yes, we are happy. Most of the time. But there are times when we aren’t.
My life on Facebook is an airbrushed and Instagrammed image of my real life. I edit the suckage because I want people to think I have my shit together. I give everything a hiptacular filter to make the drudgery look interesting. Most of the time, I think I’m a decent mom, and I think I’m giving my kids a pretty good life. But I also think I’d be a better mom if I stopped pretending, and making friends on Facebook feel like they have to pretend as well.
Reprinted courtesy of Kveller.com.
*Excerpted from The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality, edited by Avital Norman Nathman. Available from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2014.