We know those flawless Instagram-worthy photos filtered to perfection are rarely a reflection of real life—but somehow, that often doesn’t stop the sting of inadequacy they leave deep down within us.
In the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
And nothing can steal your contentment quite like seeing ‘Mom of the year’ doing all sorts of wonderful vacation-worthy things with her kids, while you’re standing knee deep in dirty laundry and peanut butter covered LEGOS from yesterday’s snack time gone awry.
But one woman is out to expose the lie of the “counterfeit” lives we see in our social media feeds once and for all.
During a recent pool day, Jen Flint couldn’t help but notice the interaction (or lack thereof) between a mother and daughter that rocked her to her core.
While the pristinely coordinated duo in their matching water wear bore all the marks of a family that would be featured on the cover of Parent magazine, Jen saw a raw glimpse of what was beneath the surface.
She decided to share her experience and resulting revelation with the world in a Facebook post that has since gone mega-viral, amassing over 113,000 shares… and the praises of mamas who needed to hear that their messy, #unfiltered lives are just the ones that their kiddos need:
“Yesterday while at the pool I watched a young Mama and her little daughter enter the pool area dressed in very nice coordinating swimming suits. The mom, with her perfect loose curls tied up in a coordinating scarf, spent the first few minutes talking loudly on her phone to a friend while her daughter stood waiting to get into the pool. Mom ended the phone call and proceeded to spread out pool toys and sunscreen on a matching towel. Then after finding just the right angle and the right light, Mama pulled out her tripod and took a few selfies with her daughter. Little One asked to get in the pool. Mama said wait and then posed her daughter in front the pool, then going in to the pool and then coming back out of the pool. Little one smiled big and said “cheese” like she’d done it a million times. Then Mama told her she could play. Little One walked in and swam around for a couple of minutes. Mama called a friend on her phone and began another conversation while Little One politely and repeatedly asked “Mama, can you come in the water with me, please?” She was ignored. “Mama, come play with me?” she asked 4 more times. Mama glanced over at her but never got off the phone. After 10 minutes Mama ended her call, collected the sunscreen that was never applied, the water toys that never touched the water, and then her daughter and left the pool.
I sat there thinking about what I’d witnessed for a while afterwards. I imagined the photos she took being perfectly edited and posted to social media with a caption like “Pool time with my girly! #Makingmemories“.
Somewhere another Mama is going to be at home with her children, the house a mess from their play, her hair unruly from a day of mothering and her clothes dirty with spit up or peanut butter. She’s going to be tired because she’s spent her day cooking, caring, cleaning and playing with her children. She’s going to look at that photo and she is going to compare herself to the perfect Mama at the pool. The Adversary is going to whisper into her ear “you aren’t good enough… You don’t look like that Mama at the pool… You don’t have money to buy expensive swimming suits like that and you don’t have time to make memories like she is” and that young Mama is going to believe it. She’s going to feel like a failure. Ugh!! She’ll never know that how she spent her time that day was so much better in God’s eyes and in her children’s eyes than that “perfect Mama” at the pool.
What we see on Social Media isn’t always real. Sometimes and often it’s a complete set-up. It’s staged and filtered and it’s counterfeit.
Sometimes we do see absolutely real photos of vacations and beautiful homes and freshly done hair but it’s only ONE moment. It’s the very best moment out of a whole day spent much like our own. Working, cleaning, and messes…
Mamas, don’t compare yourself. You ARE enough! You are amazing and the very best part is that you are REAL! Your dirty shirt and your messy house and your happy children are real and they are proof that you are doing it right!”