I Stopped Telling Lies on Facebook
So, according to Facebook, this is how I spent my Saturday: My two kids and I woke up with the sun, ready to kick butt and "make it a great day." My hair was shiny. My smile, too. We drank our hot chocolate in big red latte cups. We went for a walk in the orchards, and danced between emerald leaves. We rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers. 'Cuz that's how we roll: Just another day of being an awesome family of three.
And while all of this is basically true, I'm also full of baloney. Here's how it really went down: We woke up with the sun. Waaaay too early. Sure, my kids were ready to kick butt. But I wasn't. Luckily, I had enough stamina to trudge out of bed, put in a Beauty and the Beast DVD, and press play. By the time Belle finished whining about her "provincial life" I was asleep, curled up on the red beanbag chair in the living room.
I dreamed there was a dog kissing my face. I batted it away. I heard my 4-year-old daughter, Maytal, scream, "Don't hit me!" I opened my eyes: My daughter was the dog, and it was clearly time to brush teeth, because -- oops! -- Mama of the Year may have let the nighttime ritual slide last night.
We ate cold pizza and chocolate cake -- breakfast of champions -- and I took several "spontaneous" pictures. ("Smile, dammit! Look happy!") The kids went back to their movie and I hit up Facebook to see what everyone else was doing. Most of my friends were telling their Saturday stories for the world to like. Homegirl posted a photo of her kids frolicking in a field of poppies. I felt a twinge of envy, but I clicked like. Another friend wrote, "My hubby makes the best pancakes for our little man." (I threw up a little in my mouth. But the jealous knot twisted harder.) I clicked like again. Not to be outdone, I edited our new pictures, playing with the lighting so my dark undereye circles wouldn't show. I cropped the one where my arm looked like Miss Piggy's. I uploaded to Facebook. "Sunny Saturday!" I wrote in the status.
Time passed -- five minutes? An hour? When you're wasting time online, the seconds slip by too quickly. We were on a repeat showing of Beauty and the Beast when the Internet went out. My window to the outside world had closed. Now I had to actually spend my entire day with the kids. And here's the dirty little secret that I'll never admit on Facebook: Although 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), I don't always want to be with them. I was starting to panic.
Oh, and meanwhile? We were also out of coffee. So we got dressed. I squeezed into a pair of Spanx (three years postpartum there are days when I still look pregnant), tucked the Spanx into my bra, pulled on my skinny jeans, put on a red tank top, and zipped up my boots.
Meanwhile, my 3-year-old son, Eli, wanted to wear his sister's dress. She didn't like that idea. She shouted that boys don't wear dresses. He screamed that boys do too wear dresses. Then there was a thud. Then? Silence. Then she screamed. Then he screamed. I don't have more details because I was in the bathroom the whole time covering my zits and flat-ironing my hair.
"What's going on? Get dressed right now!" I clapped my hands and counted down. "Chop chop. 10, 9, 8...." People, when you're a divorced mom and you're on your own with the kids and your Internet is out and you wanna get coffee, you do what works.
Anyway, you get the idea. Yes, we did drink out of oversized latte mugs. But Eli spilled his hot chocolate all over the floor. Yes, we went for a walk in the orchards. But within minutes, we were soaked in mud and our feet were cold. Yes, we rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers. But just one song before Maytal put on a Disney sing-along.
Yes, there were blissful moments on that Saturday with my kids -- moments I captured on Facebook like butterflies pinned to a board. "Look, everyone! We're happy!" And yes, we are happy. Most of the time. But by sharing only the cute and cuddly moments, I ignore the importance of the raw and the real hours that are spent in the trenches making mistakes and learning from them.
Some of the hard-earned insights I could have shared that day: Close the shades at night, or expect to be woken up at an unholy hour. Make your kids brush their teeth, or they will have dog breath. And always be sure you know your neighbors' wireless password just in case.
Instead of pretending that everything is hunky-dory, let's be real: Parenting is hard. And all of us do ourselves a huge disservice when we pretend otherwise. Sure, there are great times that should be celebrated, and when our kids do awesome things, let's get our brag on. But let's also not tell each other so many lies by omission.
Because you know what happens then? When we see one another's "fakebook" posts, it not only gives us that yucky twist in the gut, but it also makes us post our own airbrushed and Instagrammed versions of the truth. And so the fakeness cycle continues, and we lose that chance to be real with our friends and nurture those honest moments both online and off.
So I'm going to be honest: Parts of my Saturday sucked. And I'm telling you this because I bet that parts of your Saturday sucked as well. And if that's the case, I want you to know that, all my shiny happy status messages aside, I get it. I edit out the suckage because I want people to think that I have my life together. But I think I'd be happier if I stopped pretending and stopped making friends on Facebook feel like they have to pretend as well.
Sarah Tuttle-Singer grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in rural Israel. When she isn't posting selfies on Facebook, she blogs for kveller.com, where a version of this story originally appeared.
Photos by Guy Prives