Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On True Life

Hi. I'm back. I don't know why I'm so uninspired to write these days. I think the challenge with blogs is the want to post about all the pleasantries of life (complete with lots of professional looking photographs) but there is a need for posts about what's really going on behind the scenes. Especially as a mom. It's easy to believe that many are living this really rosy, hipster-chic drinking iced tea from a Mason jar and eating organic yogurt with homemade granola from this bowl I carved with the knife I got in Europe while I watch the sunset over the pond by my cabin in the woods kind of life. And MAN would I love for that to be my reality all the time, but it simply isn't. It's natural to want to share pictures or posts of the happy, beautiful moments in your life - like the one above! With Instagram you can even make folding laundry look like the best moment of your day. And there's nothing wrong with that. But when that's primarily what everyone else is doing as well, it can easily make me feel like my life is dull or boring or hard. There's whole studies done on this topic:

Utah Valley University conducted research last year which indicated that people are becoming depressed after viewing Facebook. A sample of 425 undergraduate students was surveyed and for those who spent the most amount of time on Facebook, depression was more likely. Why? Those student perceived that others were happier and had a better life than they do. This phenomenon is known as “Facebook depression". (source)

Similar outcomes were found in a study done by Standford University:

By showcasing the most witty, joyful, bullet-pointed versions of people's lives, and inviting constant comparisons in which we tend to see ourselves as the losers, Facebook appears to exploit an Achilles' heel of human nature. And women—an especially unhappy bunch of late—may be especially vulnerable to keeping up with what they imagine is the happiness of the Joneses.

Facebook is, after all, characterized by the very public curation of one's assets in the form of friends, photos, biographical data, accomplishments, pithy observations, even the books we say we like. Look, we have baked beautiful cookies. We are playing with a new puppy. We are smiling in pictures (or, if we are moody, we are artfully moody.) Blandness will not do, and with some exceptions, sad stuff doesn't make the cut, either.

I think this can ring true for blogs as well. Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to say people are lying, or that there's anything wrong with sharing pictures of the happy, beautiful moments in life. But it can make me feel alone in my struggles.  I've been reading this great book called Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe and I relate so much to what Sarah Mae, one of the co-authors, shares:

"The days became long and impossible. Taking care of my children was too hard. Being a good wife was too hard. Cleaning, creating life, living...was just too hard"     - Sarah Mae

"I've lain in bed too scared to get up and ruin another day - ruin my kids"    - Ann Voskamp (forward)

There's a lot I've found encouraging too, especially their perspective on what motherhood is supposed to be like rather than how we've been taught to approach it - primarily alone:

"Motherhood was meant to be experienced with other mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and a community of women sharing the load. Please do not attempt this alone!...Going at it alone is, without a doubt, one of those most common and effective strategies Satan uses to discourage moms...We are living in an isolationist culture today and have become accustomed to lonely living that God never intended us to experience. ..God made us for community and accountability and close friendship..Young moms were never meant to be without the advice and care of multiple women assisting them and advising them in their lives"      - Sally Clarkson (co-author)

To all these things I say "Yes!" and yet, it is so easy for all of us, no matter what our situation to feel ashamed to confess that we are struggling and need help. It's never easy to be vulnerable. And yet it's exactly what we need. Of course, we also need moments and memories that are joyful and photogenic because they remind us that there is always beauty to balance out the mess.

The point here is: Life's highlights are only highlights because of the shadows cast by our low points. It is right and good to celebrate eachother's highs, including our own. But it is seems to me that relationship and soul-bonding is almost always most deeply felt when we are willing to be vulnerable and relate to one another's lows.

So let's do that.


  1. Amen!!! That is exactly why I never wanted to join Facebook (and the narcissism it fosters). I have been surprised by the good things it brings like you also mentioned.

    I hear ya with the mom thing too. I have these high expectations on myself and so I often end my days feeling inadequate, wondering 'what happened!'. It is tough...boy is it tough.

    Thanks for your honesty Lauren. It is always better to be genuine.

  2. Its so true. And ironically, your blog more than most I must be careful of, because I can sometimes fall into the trap of, "wow, look at the great pictures of Jack & Moses... why don't I do that for my boys?" Or the recipes. Or the interior home renovations. And I have to remember that those are the highlights, and there are posts (here, too) about the long days. The grueling part of parenting.

    I also lament our isolationist culture. We don't let children play outside anymore. Sending them to the park by themselves? Unthinkable. :(


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