A mother's candid post about life with her baby is exposing the truth behind the way parenting is often portrayed on social media - filtered to perfection - and what's it's really like.
Blogger Shannon Peterson, of Much.Most.Darling, was having a rough day. And, instead of hiding it, she took to social media to explain exactly what was going down.
"Just in case you thought my real life was anything like these tiny squares, I give you: this is 4 months," Ms Peterson wrote in a post to Instagram. The mother-of-two is pictured sitting on an exercise ball, breastfeeding her baby. She has "dirty hair", has abandoned her breakfast and is in desperate need of shower.
Is anyone else seriously relating to this scene?
Just in case you thought my real life was anything like these tiny squares, I give you: this is 4 months. J has been an incredibly easy baby, from labor to delivery to him being *here*. But 4 months happened and his needs have grown tenfold. The other day I spent THREE HOURS like this, people. J had to be swaddled, on his back, in my arms. While I was bouncing on my giant exercise ball (never once used for it's intended purpose). With my boob perfectly resting in just the right spot on his chin. Our house was (is) a mess, my breakfast (lactation smoothie) sitting abandoned behind me, dirty hair and desperately in need of a shower (and 5 minutes without someone touching me) - and at the brink of tears. I mean, I was too lazy to even take the sticker from our movers off the stability ball 🙈 and I'm pretty sure you can see the remnants of my snowflake crafting on the carpet next to the couch I forgot to clean up. The truth is, this is who I am most days. Not a put together human who has her act together. Not a mom who can juggle working from home, kids, etc. I'm just a crazy person trying to maintain some semblance of calm while attempting to figure it all out. Counting down the hours until bedtime and the kids are asleep, and then that first delicious sip of Gin & Tonics or wine. And you better believe I VSCO and heavily edited the you-know-what out of this picture to make it look light and airy and "fit my feed". Because I'm stuck on the couch under a 4 month old cluster feeding little dude who won't have anything to do with anyone but me. - Here's to YOU mama, holding it together even when it gets rough. And even if you're not, you're still a part of this club of crazy. Anyone else having a really rough week? - - - - #beautifulbfing #breastfeeding #breastfeedwithoutfear #breastfeedingmom #motherhood #fedisbest #darlingmovement #our_everyday_moments #bfing #breastfeedingisbeautiful #mommyandme #momlife #mommylife #noshame #normalizebreastfeeding #rainbowbaby #happymom #mamabear #theDulcetLife #boymom #feelthefeelings #joyfulmamas #liveauthentic #motherhoodunplugged #mybeautifulmess #ourcandidlife #ohheymama #thehappynow #momofboys #honestmotherhood
"The other day I spent THREE HOURS like this, people," Ms Peterson captions the photo. "J had to be swaddled, on his back, in my arms. While I was bouncing on my giant exercise ball (never once used for its intended purpose). With my boob perfectly resting in just the right spot on his chin."
On the brink of tears, the mum writes that the house was a mess and she was craving just five minutes to herself - five minutes without someone touching her.
"The truth is, this is who I am most days," Ms Peterson continues. "Not a put together human who has her act together." I'm not a mum who can juggle working from home, along with her kids, she admits. "I'm just a crazy person trying to maintain some semblance of calm while attempting to figure it all out."
Sharing that she's counting down the hours until bedtime, and that first delicious sip of wine, Ms Peterson wrote, "Here's to YOU mama, holding it together even when it gets rough. And even if you're not, you're still a part of this club of crazy."
When the mother-of-two asked her followers, "Anyone else having a rough week?" other mums responded with a resounding "YES".
"At least we're not alone out here..." one wrote. "I'm pretty much exactly where you are...an almost 4 month old and an almost 3 year old....yes most days are exactly this. Cheers to holding it all together, even when we feel like it's all falling apart!"
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Ms Peterson, who experienced postnatal depression and anxiety, explained that she wanted to share a more honest view of parenthood - in contrast to what she sees on social media.
"Scrolling through my feed is hard ― seeing all these beautiful moms with their hair and makeup done every day, perfectly put together left me wondering why I couldn't be that," Ms Peterson said. "Why I couldn't do what they're all doing. Why my pre-pregnancy jeans are still too snug, why my living rooms aren't perfectly styled and pristine, why I don't always feel the 'motherhood is beautiful' words that are shared. I have been feeling so uninspired and, quite frankly, pretty emotional about not measuring up."
And she's not the only one feeling that way.
"So many women shared that they were in the same position and feeling lonely and defeated, just like I was and am," Ms Peterson said. "My inbox was flooded with messages of other moms offering words of encouragement and empathy, and it just felt good to connect on such a huge level with so many other parents across the board."
Ms Peterson also described something many mums can probably relate to: the fact that social media can be a double-edged sword.
"I love that it allows me to connect with so many other like-minded women, to share my story, and to find and give support, but it also kind of sets up these crazy high ideals of 'keeping up with the Joneses' that we can't ever escape," she said.
In a more recent Instagram post, Ms Peterson has continued her commitment to posting "real-life" images, sharing a snap of herself pumping breast milk.
"What it looks like when this mama is trying to start getting her body used to the pump again, but baby needs / wants to nurse and brother doesn't want to be left out of any part," she captioned the shot.