One of my favourite bloggers, Chiswick Mum, wrote a post recently about Pinterest and how real life never quite seems to live up to the shiny perfection of many of the pins on there. It got me thinking about writing and blogging and how easy it is to portray a one-sided image without even entirely meaning to.
Take last Sunday. We had an idyllic family day out around Central London. Anna loves fountains, and so we decided to set out and see how many different fountains we could spot, starting in Trafalgar Square. We were disappointed that the fountains which normally fill the central courtyard of Somerset House had been replaced by an exhibition of sculptures, but actually Anna and Sophia had a wonderful time playing there anyway. Sophia was thrilled to have such an enormous space to crawl round, Anna adored playing the protective big sister and looking after her, and husband and I were pretty pleased to be able to relax in the sunshine and watch our girls having fun.
We pottered through Soho and Covent Garden, bought Anna a long-coveted policeman’s helmet at one of the tourist trap gift shops, and then ended the day in the newly refurbished Granary Square by Kings Cross station. Sophia ate her tea while we watched Anna caper through the amazing fountains there; me feeling like a very smug mummy that I’d thought to bring a change of clothes for her!
Not bad to have weather good enough to do that at 5pm in early October.
When we got home I had another smug mummy moment as, after putting Sophia to bed, we all sat down to black bean chilli which I’d remembered to lift out of the freezer that morning, with sweet potato wedges and frog dip (aka guacamole) which Anna and I made while the potatoes were cooking. Delicious and nutritious.
All this is true, and the photos are an accurate representation of a really lovely day. But, it’s only part of the story. In that portrayal I have chosen to leave out certain elements. Like the fact that we almost didn’t manage to leave the house at all because husband and I were arguing about whether we had breakfast at home and then went out afterwards, or whether we should go out for brunch. Like the fact that I was recovering from a 24 hour vomiting bug and spent the whole day watching the children like hawks for any sign that they too were about to start throwing their guts up. Like me telling Anna off and her getting upset because she started messing with the nappy bin in the fairly grubby public loo where we were trying to change Sophia’s very messy nappy. Like me dropping my iPhone and smashing the screen (for the second time in a month!). Like me deciding to make a microwave steam pudding as a treat after our chilli, and ruining it because it transpired that the milk I’d used was on the turn and curdled as I began to whisk the mixture. I could have written a blog post which played up all these incidents and created the perception of a truly disastrous day.
The truth, in social media as in life, is always more finely nuanced than any one-sided picture can accurately portray. It’s worth bearing that in mind when peeping enviously in at the window of someone’s seemingly golden life, and it’s also worth bearing in mind when you feel like all the balls you’re juggling yourself have come crashing down, and that there is no silver lining to your particular cloud, because perhaps, just perhaps, if you look at it from another angle, there is.
I try never to envy another’s happiness or success – we never know the flip side of the coin.
We do edit life into its essence for blogging according to our characters – you’ve mentioned highlights and lowlights in this post, and it’s made an interesting read.
Love this blog! Really enjoyed them all but I thought this one was particularly true and good for the Facebook generation to think about! I exclude myself from this of course as I don’t really do Facebook but the point remains… S xx
Love this! A good message to think about written in a clever way.
Love reading your blog Helen x