Living and Loving Our Real Lives (Not Our Best Life)

Mommin’ ain’t easy. We hear this often and we know it to be true, but our social feeds tell us otherwise. With cameras available constantly, we are blessed to be able to capture the everyday moments and memories like no other generation before us. Each everyday moment is often captured in four, five, six or even more images. We continuously take photos searching for the “perfect” shot or use live photos to ensure we captured the most flattering angle or smile or expression. This curating of those moments, with the specific intention and desire to share, is creating a culture where moms feel inadequate and discontent with what they have.

Now, do I think beautiful moments in photography should go away? NO! I appreciate as much as anyone that talented photographers can capture my chaos into a beautiful photograph for my Christmas cards and gallery walls. I don’t ever plan on stopping the family photo shoots with adorably coordinated outfits and scarves and boots in November despite the 85-degree Florida heat. I also don’t plan on ending my search for the sweet smile that my toddler flashes my way amongst the tantrums. That’s not my point.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and it weighs on me. Is there an answer? Do I have to quit social media? I hear friends talk all the time about disconnecting, but I’ll honestly admit that I like the connectivity social outlets provide to stay in touch and share, particularly when the luxury of a long phone conversation to catch up is rare. So why do we do it? Why do we curate the everyday moments to the point of staging backgrounds, moving the moment, recreating the moment, or editing the result? One answer — comparison.

Roosevelt was right. Comparison can truly become the thief of joy if it is applied in a non-productive way. While we know this and can talk all day about not wanting to compare our lives to those images we’re flooded with each day, it’s there and it’s a battle. A devotion I did a while back challenged me to reframe my thinking each time I’m caught in the comparison trap. Instead of being jealous or measuring something against someone else’s “life” as told by their social post, I have tried to recognize this and quickly change my mindset to be grateful for something specific that I have or that I realize in my own life. It helps. It’s hard, but it’s simple and it helps me not spiral down a path that goes nowhere good. For example: I scroll my feed between meetings and see friends enjoying a play date with their kids at the library. Instead of being jealous that I’m stuck at work or sad that my kids are in daycare, I intentionally think of how amazing it is that my kids are able to essentially have play dates every day with built-in story time and activities! It’s crazy how re-thinking the way I look at things helps my overall mood and sense of well-being.

The buzz phrase that I keep hearing repeatedly these days in conjunction with extremely posed posts is “living my best life.” While I absolutely want to live the best life I can, I also feel that living for an aspirational existence can rob us of contentment. Instead of yearning to live my best life, I would much rather live and love my real life. With this goal in mind, I encourage my fellow mamas to be real and share their every day. Don’t delete a precious photo just because the background shows laundry folded on the dining room table or sticky handprints on the glass doors. We all know that sometimes the counters aren’t cleared right away and the bottle rack stays full longer than it should. The beds might not be made every morning, the shoes pile up by the door, and socks don’t always make it to the hamper. I admit that these are regular occurrences in my home, probably more often than not, unfortunately! Do I like things to be a mess? No! I wish I walked into a relaxing and zen atmosphere each evening with the scents of eucalyptus and lavender wafting through the air, but that’s not real life (for me) and I wouldn’t trade what we have for the world. We’re making memories, and those memories deserve to be shared, not shamed.

Today I challenge each of us to focus on inclusivity and not exclusion amongst one another. Let’s support and not shame, let’s share and not compare. This is life, and instead of focusing on living our best life, let’s commit to #LivingAndLovingMyRealLife as we intentionally focus on the amazing lives we live in the everyday moments.

About the Author

Robyn Reeves is a Christian wife and mother trying to navigate the delicate balance of family and a full-time career. Having originally moved to Jacksonville to obtain her double undergraduate degrees from the University of North Florida, Robyn returned to the First Coast after grad school at Emerson College in Boston where she earned her Master’s in Global Marketing Communications and Advertising. Robyn met her husband, Ryan, during her first week on the job at Jacksonville University where she has worked since 2007. They have supported each other through not only the early years of marriage and family, but also through a cancer diagnosis and a baby needing major surgery to overcome lung malformations. Robyn is confident that their faith has guided them through such hardships and today she is passionate about helping other families in similar situations. Ryan and Robyn have two young children, Waylon (3) and Whitley (1), and a dog who is family as well!

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