I love Instagram. It’s entertained me through long, sleepless nights with a newborn, kept me connected with friends I don’t get to see as often as I’d like anymore and welcomed me with open arms into the mums-of-Instagram community.
This community is made up of some wonderful, savvy and hilarious mum bloggers/grammers whose pearls of wisdom and honest #parentingfails save my day, and my sanity, on an all too regular basis.
But for every Unmumsy Mum, Hurrah For Gin or Mother Pukka, who are keeping it real and doing a service for motherkind everywhere, there are a hundred others who are keeping it very unreal. Their picture perfect lives are laid out, one digital Polaroid at a time, bathed in an ethereal glow, like sunlight, candlelight or multiple filters. Their Boden catalogue existence, with kids like a Gap advert, post-baby body like a Victoria’s Secrets Angel, rainy day activities like a Blue Peter project and food like a side of Deliciously Ella, is pretty hard to believe but also pretty hard to take my eyes off.
Doing their best Instagram-worthy posing [Copyright: Yahoo/Claire Sparks]
Do they make me feel envious? Perhaps. Do they make me feel inadequate? Most definitely. My parenting life isn’t glitz and glamour. It’s dried-in Weetabix (it’s like GLUE, people), temper tantrums and the worrying question of is it chocolate or is it poo.
Am I failing my kids because I occasionally serve them up microwaved Frankfurters, have convinced them that filling the kitchen sink with water and letting them splash around with some plastic cooking utensils is the most fun ever, and don’t dress them in matching monochrome?
I know I’m not, of course. But in a world where you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, it doesn’t take many of these perfect pictures to plant a seed of doubt.
But hang on, I’m on Instagram too, so does that make me a hypocrite? Sure, I share pictures of my kids and sure, I choose the cute ones. And sure, there are 20 discarded blurry, rubbish ones for every keeper. But you try getting a toddler to stand still long enough to get the shot you want on the first attempt.
And yes, I might crop out my mummy tummy and over-filter my eye bags. But that’s why they gave us Amaro and X-Pro II in the first place, isn’t it?
The problem, the thing that makes it toxic, is that undercurrent of competition, present in all aspects of parenting but amplified by the semi-anonymous, indirect interaction of social media. It’s as if the removal of the face-to-face element has removed the need for false modesty or self deprecation. The gloves are off, my friends, and may the best mum win.
I know this, but still, I can’t click the unfollow button. Still, I’m drawn to my daily fix of these perfect Instamums. Just like I’m drawn to glossy magazines, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and workouts that promise me Miranda Kerr’s body. This perfect life is unobtainable, out of reach, at least for me, but boy it’s pretty to look at. And if these supermums have got their act together, well done them. I’m not going to hate them for it.