A Smile On Social Media Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story

Last Tuesday was nuts. I should have rescheduled the kids’ dentist appointments for another day that was less full, but I really thought it could be done. If everyone would go by my watch and my timing, there would be no problem. Unfortunately, I’m finding, the world does not work like that.

The two big kids had simultaneous appointments booked for 3:20 pm so I thought we’d get home by 4, at which time I could give all 3 kids something to eat, get them to change into their swimsuits and pack snacks for after their swim lessons. I would also have enough time to make the taco meat for dinner before 5 pm, when my husband was going to swing by from work to pick up all 3 kids and head to the pool. And then I was going to have 45 GLORIOUS minutes to eat a couple tacos, shower the dinner smell off me, choose something cute to wear, take some time with my makeup and then head out the door to a poetry event at which I was reading. I was giddy all day! I mean, 45 minutes without children just to get myself ready for a night out? Woot!

It didn’t go down like that.

We got to the dentist right at 3:20. My daughter got called in around 3:30. We were 10 minutes delayed…and only one kid was in! This is not a rant about the dentist, by the way. We love our pediatric miracle-worker’s clinic where everyone is so perky and great at what they do! I was just on a schedule. And the schedule was disintegrating before my eyes. So, anyway, my big girl went in while my big boy was fighting back tears because another kid was playing with the video game. This annoyed me because, seriously, there were a gazillion other things to play with. And books to read. Why couldn’t he just pick a book? So, I’m coached him through this, shoving words in his mouth like, “Can I have a turn at the video game?” when finally he got called in. At 3:50.

I immediately started re-calculating how the rest of the afternoon was going to go. But I got distracted by my toddler who was trying to grab this one little thing from the bottom of a bin of 32, 756 other little things. She was reaching and shrieking and looking at me to help. But I had no idea which little thing caught her eye, so I just randomly started digging and holding up one plastic thing after another, to which she shook her head vehemently. Well, this game had to end because I had a couple of questions about each kid to go over with the dentist so I scooped her up and entered the examining area. X-rays, cleaning, fluoride, questions…check! We were ready to go! Oh no, we were not. I needed to pay! Right!

As I punched in my PIN, I heard my girl say to my boy, “You got TWO toys?!” I looked over to where they were standing in front of the machine that spits out more plastic toys they don’t need in exchange for the token they got for being such cooperative children.

“Well, you got candy at school today, remember? It’s FINE.” I snapped while handing back the credit card terminal to the receptionist. Not in the nicest tone, but seriously, I had to nip that argument in the bud right then and there. In hindsight, I see the irony of the whole candy/dentist thing. It’s kind of funny now.

But I was not laughing on the way home, my eyes bugging out at the clock: 4:15! How was I going to DO this? The toddler was now HANGRY because no, I didn’t pack a snack for her. Why would I have? We were supposed to be home 15 minutes before! Instead, we wouldn’t be home till 4:30 and I imagined how the next half an hour would go.

My imagination did not do it justice.

Sitting at the dining table, feeding the toddler veggie rice and wishing to God I had just stuck with the baby-led weaning so she could have fed herself the darn rice, I yelled at my son to put his swimsuit on NOW. Which he did. OVER his pants. And then he proceeded to laugh and dance and throw his stuffies in the air. My oldest daughter was dressing hurriedly and packing the swimming bag with snacks for the both of them. All the while I thought, I wish she didn’t have such an anxious look on her face. I mean, what kind of mother am I to place such stress on her tiny shoulders?

And why won’t this baby stop eating? You want MORE?! It was now just before 5 and there was no text from the hubs that he was on his way. Which meant he was NOT on his way. Which meant there was nobody in this world who wanted to give me 45 minutes children-free to get ready for a night out! Not that I had 45 minutes anymore, because dinner was not made. And it had to be made before I left because the kids and hubs wouldn’t be back from the pool till 7. That was no time to start dinner! Well, that started the tears…big, fat tears that I just couldn’t hold back.

I pity-sobbed my way through feeding the baby, then changing her diaper. I heard the side door open and caught a flash of my husband flying up the stairs to quickly change. It was 5:10. In a whirlwind, he whisked them all out the door then planted a kiss on my cheek and finally took a good look at me. “Are you OK?” he asked, concerned.

“Yes, just go! I have to do so much before I leave!” I shoved him out the door, then closed it. I could see him mouth through the window as he waved, Good luck tonight!

I think I growled back.

Did you know it only takes 15 minutes to brown ground beef, throw in garlic, ground cumin, salt, a pinch of tumeric (yeah, I add that stuff to everything I can), then chop and add green peppers and onion followed by shredded kale? Definitely no time to shower at 5:35. I had to be out the door in 10 minutes. Which meant, I would now be smelling like ground beef, onions, garlic, cumin etc throughout the two-hour event. And I had no time to eat any of it!

15 minutes later (yes, running 5 minutes late – ha!), I took this selfie.

I texted it to my husband – that sweet man who takes all 3 kids swimming every Tuesday so I can normally go to Zumba, that darling who cheers me on in everything I do, that man I growled at after shoving him through the doorway – because I wanted to give him a smile along with my words, “Can’t wait to see you tonight.”

I looked at the picture after I sent it and laughed. Wow, I thought. You’d never guess I was such an emotional mess just minutes before, throwing clothes around in my closet and crying because I had to take a perfume-bath instead of a proper shower.

And then it struck me: this would be the perfect thing to share with you! Just a reminder that a snapshot is exactly that – a glimpse at one second of someone else’s life. In this pic, I must say, I look kind of put together. I’m wearing a scarf around my neck, got some makeup on…even my silver hair is glistening! You can’t smell the garlic and onions in my hair. You can’t see the state of my kitchen. You don’t know how disappointed I was that my afternoon had gone like that.

We all have our chaos, our messy moments. Whether we are parents or not, whether we love our lives or not, there are these moments that take our breath away and there are moments that make us cry big, fat tears. And it’s ok.

So, when you see someone posting about their perfect moment, let them have that moment! Cheer on their job promotion, congratulate their weight loss, pat them on the back for managing to get all 4 children in matching outfits with smiles on their clean faces. We need to let each other have our moments, and appreciate our own.

While I admit, I often wonder why people feel the need to post certain things – and over-sharing is something that concerns me – it saddens me more to know that there are so many people who are harmed psychologically by social media because of this very thing.

Live your life – and live the majority of it offline – and share what you want to share. And keep in mind, that’s what most others are doing too.

Thanks for reading this really long post with a message I hope resonates with you!

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Showing 13 comments
  • Salma
    Reply

    Oh my gosh, I love this post! I think all of us moms can relate and it’s nice to actually read about it. Next time I see that perfect picture on Instagram, I will remember your words.

  • Parita @ myinnershakti
    Reply

    THIS — “We all have our chaos, our messy moments. Whether we are parents or not, whether we love our lives or not, there are these moments that take our breath away and there are moments that make us cry big, fat tears. And it’s ok.”

    Loved this post. I’m not a mom but can definitely relate. What we share on social media is only a snippet of our “real” lives. Thanks for this!

  • Sanober Bukhari
    Reply

    Hi Taslim

    Great post! How did the poetry reading go by the way? 🙂

  • Kamana@SocialandStyle
    Reply

    This is one of the most honest, truthful, and touching blog posts I have ever read. At first I was thinking you would say people shouldn’t try to appear happy (like how everyone tries to appear perfect on social media) – but then you turned my thinking around by saying let people celebrate their happy moments! As always – every time visit your site I am inspired to be a better person.

  • Mitch Mitchell
    Reply

    What a story! I try to always listen to my first intuition because it turns out to be correct at least 80% of the time. It basically says don’t trust yourself to someone else’s time and agenda because if it goes wrong it’ll affect me more than them. At least your kids were taken care of and you look good. 🙂

    • Taslim Jaffer
      Reply

      Thanks for reading, Mitch! Good on you for following your intuition – that’s something I really am conscious of doing more of…from now on 🙂 Have a great day!

  • Tazim
    Reply

    I just love this: “We need to let each other have our moments, and appreciate our own.” When I think about all the “bad” times I don’t post about, I hope others can see some good in me posting the happy moments.

    • Taslim Jaffer
      Reply

      Thanks, Tazim! Yeah, we need to remember that everyone is a ‘whole’ person with good days/moments and bad ones. And we should celebrate each other’s good ones! <3

  • Adrienne
    Reply

    Hi Taslim,

    Bless your heart, I can’t imagine having three small children and dealing with everything you do. By the way, what doctor has ever been on time! I only wish and I’m a grown woman too.

    I agree about sharing WAY too much on social media, but you’re right. If they have something that needs celebrating jump in. We all need that encouragement along the way.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us and hope you’re having a much better day. By the way, I’m sure the reading was a big hit.

    ~Adrienne

    • Taslim Jaffer
      Reply

      Hi Adrienne – thanks for stopping by with your thoughts! You just never know how the day will turn out, but I still wouldn’t trade them, or my role in these 3 kids’ lives <3 Feeling blessed today, that's for sure! And thank you - I loved the reading. There's something about sharing my words in a safe, loving, creative space that invigorates me. Plus, listening to others connects me to the greater picture of this art.

  • Reply

    What an awesome, relatable story!! As bloggers we mostly post the best but this post reminds us all that life is a combo of both 🙂

    • Taslim Jaffer
      Reply

      Thanks, Sarita!

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