In Defense Of Being A ‘Fake’ Mom On Social Media

by Bethany Neumeyer
Bethany is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom who is currently using her writing degree to answer the question, why.

Every so often, an article pops up on my Facebook newsfeed that complains that people — moms especially — are totally fake on social media. The wording is different every time, but the basic message is this: “You’re not fooling anyone with your staged photos of your smiling kids and your cute little captions about how brilliant they are. Stop pretending you’re more put together than you really are. Nobody believes that you’re perfect.”

They’re right, of course. My life isn’t perfect. The photos I share of my children smiling happily, playing together and hugging do not represent a complete picture of what life is like with two children five and under.

In real life, there are tantrums and messes and oh-so-many runny noses. Honestly, even on good days, our house is just mayhem a lot of the time. Potty training, looking for lost socks, cleaning crayon off of the walls.

Last night a meatball rolled under the couch, and to tell you the truth, I haven’t even picked it up yet. I tried to fish it out, but it was too far under there. Even when I tried using a plastic samurai sword, I couldn’t reach it, and it was bedtime. So, as I type this, there is currently a half-eaten meatball under my sofa, because I forgot about it until just now. Not exactly picture perfect.

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Here’s the thing: I think of my Facebook wall and my Instagram account in the same way I think of the walls in my house.

On my living room walls, I hang only photos of the best version of us as a family. The moments that make me smile. There are no framed pictures on our walls of anyone throwing up or of any tantrums. There aren’t any canvas prints where everyone is crying and no one is wearing pants for some reason.

If you walked into my living room and saw only smiling photos, would you accuse me of being fake? Would you point to the color-coordinated outfits in the professional photo that I’ve enlarged and hung above the fireplace and say, “Who do you think you’re fooling? Your kids are usually still in their pajamas until at least noon!”

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Of course you wouldn’t. Because you’d understand that the photos on the wall are our family’s highlight reel. Our best smiles, our happiest vacations, our sweetest memories.

They’re not up there to make anyone think that we are better or happier or more put together than we actually are, they’re there so we can document for ourselves how quickly our children are growing, so we can keep the memories of the beautiful curls and sweet smiles, so we will never forget that, for one brief, shining moment, everyone in our family was fully dressed at the same time.

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My Facebook wall is really the same. It’s a highlight reel — the best moments of what might have been an otherwise awful day.

I make a conscious effort to snap photos of my children playing together nicely in the middle of a long day of bickering. When my children are dressed up in nice clothes (and 90 percent of the times it’s because it’s Sunday and we’re going to church,) I try to remember to take a picture because it’s such a novelty. I’m capturing the moments for myself and sharing them for long-distance friends and family.

There is no part of me that is thinking, “This will definitely impress that girl I was friends with in high school!” Or “I hope the other moms at my church are fooled by that one clean corner of my living room!”

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If someone who didn’t know me well scrolled through my Facebook page, they might think that my children are always cooperative and smiling, and that’s absolutely untrue. But I don’t share these pictures to be fake or to make people jealous. I share them for my own sanity and to remind myself that there are beautiful, happy moments in every one of the long, difficult days of motherhood.

I’ve spoken to friends who feel intimidated because they feel like their own kids are always throwing tantrums while every photo they see posted by other parents on Facebook appears to show happy, smiling, cooperative children. And so for them, I do try to share some of the more realistic (and less pretty) pictures of our day-to-day life.

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On my blog’s Facebook page especially, I share stories of tantrums and bad days and the more gross stories of motherhood. I try to be cognizant of how a Facebook newsfeed of only smiling children might appear to a mom who is in the middle of a really miserable day, and so I make sure to include some more realistic moments in among the anomalies of well-dressed children smiling without any food on their faces.

But I won’t apologize for sharing the “best of us” pictures on Facebook. Our lives aren’t picture-perfect, but every now and then there are brief moments that come close, and when those moments come, I want to capture them before they vanish.

Courtesy of Bethany Neumeyer

If my “fake” Facebook posts annoy you, there will be no hard feelings if you hide me from your newsfeed.

But just know that for every smiling moment that I share, there are tearful ones that I don’t. For every time that my kids wore outfits that matched each other, there were at least six more days when they stayed in their pajamas until lunchtime. For every smiling selfie, I can guarantee that there was a moment in that same day where I lost patience with my kids.

I’m sharing the things that make me smile, and I hope you’ll do the same.

And now I should probably go do something about that meatball…

For more from Bethany Neumeyer visit I Was Promised More Naps,Facebook and Instagram.