what fills in the gaps between those photos on instagram…

IMG_7339Our family of five took a road trip to the Texas hill country a few weeks ago. I posted four pics to Instagram from the venture, highlighting our favorite stops: Bouldin Creek Cafe in south Austin, the LBJ Wildflower Center, Storm’s Drive-In in Lampasas, and the Colorado River. Shortly after arriving home from our excursion, I came across a few articles lamenting the “life-editing” that takes place on social media, and I pondered the photos I’d shared from our trip. They certainly made our weekend outing look like a breeze. And while we DID have a great time, there were hiccups too.

My “life-edits” on social media are not intentional. I don’t sit down and consciously decide I’ll share only photos of my family’s happiest moments, cheeriest holidays, smilingest faces. But it happens anyway. Who of us wants to display the mundane moments of our everyday, the mountains of laundry or the spraying off of chicken poo from the back patio? Who snaps pictures of those frightfully embarrassing moments that happen in a household? Like when you yell at your kids. Or hide out in your bedroom stress-eating a bag of Cheetos (So what if they’re made of corn, the most socially irresponsible vegetable EVER. I ATE THEM. And they were delicious.). Does anyone want to see a shot of processed cheese particles on my fingertips? Nope. Does anyone have an overwhelming desire to see my laundry piles or backyard patio? Doubtful.

We leave out the monotony, struggle and despair because we figure who wants to hear? And really…who wants to hear?? A couple years ago I posted a letter to my 20yo self on Facebook regarding the pain of feeling excluded. A friend messaged me, teasing: “Remind me to never piss you off.” When I dug a bit at his comment, he admitted he read my paragraph as passive-aggressive and said I should have confronted in-person whomever had excluded me. Our conversation was pleasant and I was happy to hear his perspective but I also stood by my words, directed to no one in particular and the result of years of feeling on the periphery of various communities. But it was clear my friend didn’t feel social media was the place for my outpour of sentiment.

While some certainly attempt to paint a particular picture of their personas, I think most of us just prefer to focus on the positive. Clinging to upbeat moments help us navigate other lengthy and/or painful life challenges. Naturally we want to share our joy with others (or even just keep a record of those moments to share with our future selves). Some of us enjoy the hilarity our kids provide and like dishing about their funny antics. Some of us love being outdoors and sharing the wonder we find there. Some of us appreciate all things home and like to display its comforts. Food, art, sports, crafts…social media is a way to reveal what is dear to us.

Thus we share our favorite moments, however brief their appearance. The unfortunate by-product is that we see only each others’ smiles, friends, parties, vacations, honors, award-winning children, extended families who all live in apparent peace and harmony, and seemingly solid faiths. And we miss out on the other equally valid and very real aspect of life – each others’ tears, loneliness, bruised feelings about not being included, tight budgets that don’t allow vacations, shame, angry kids, extended families who aren’t so harmonious, and crushing doubts.

So while the photos I shared were a true part of our fun weekend outing, I thought I’d elaborate on some other moments that comprised that same trip that I didn’t share because, well, see above.

  • We watched a cyclist bounce across the pavement of a busy road after being hit by a car, frantically called 911, then attempted to pacify and reassure our terrified daughters.
  • The friends who had planned to travel with us were unable to join due to a sick child.
  • The resident cats were semi-obnoxious. Pretty sure one of them sipped my drink.

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    Feline hair, everywhere.

  • Watched a cab t-bone another car in downtown Austin and re-lived the biker-hit-by-car nightmare with the girls.
  • Lost count of how many times we had to remind the kids: “Stop yelling.” Everything in public is spoken at yell volume for some reason.

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    Yell. Yell. Yell.

  • Did I mention a not-so-welcome guest joined me – JUST me – all weekend? SEE??? These are the things NOBODY WANTS TO KNOW.
  • A napping toddler urinated in her carseat.

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    Probably peeing.

  • The 7yo ended up with a mysterious brown funk on her elbow. Sniff check required. You know, in case the “brown” was ____ . It wasn’t, thank our lucky Lone Star.

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    Ew.

  • Neither Brandon nor I slept much, due to incessant coughing and overactive mind, respectively.
  • The kids ripped a giant hole in the rental home’s trampoline.

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    Or maybe it was me.

  • And on Sunday morning, a near vehicular travesty of our own. A blur whipped into the open passenger window and brushed across my left arm. When I glanced over, all I saw was a black, blue and yellow SOMETHING dart between the console and Brandon’s right hip. And all I could think was ARACHNID. Since neither of us knew what we were dealing with naturally I started shrieking and Brandon’s driving turned erratic as he gripped the door frame in an effort to keep from sitting on a creature that potentially had pincers or stingers at-the-ready directly under his bum. Upon screeching to a halt, we observed an obviously terrified swallowtail butterfly holding on for dear life to Brandon’s shorts. I’m not sure what traumatized her more: my insane screaming or her near-miss of being smashed by a human behind.

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    Our pal Ryan’s reply to this pic: “That butt looks fly.”

All that to say, our trip was so much more than the four carefree-looking photos I posted on Instagram. The moments that filled in the substantial gaps between those snapshots were real life, the sort of life that is always flowing, just like the Colorado River that cuts through the the middle of Texas. Thought you should know.

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