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Motherhood in an #instaperfect world

By November 11, 2018June 17th, 2022Motherhood7 min read
Ubuntu Baba Baby Carriers | South Africa

My son is now 4, which means I get to shower alone most of the time. Sometimes he is sitting there watching me, shouting things like “poop-bum” and then falling over and laughing his head off because he can see my bum… but other times, I’m alone. Alone in the shower. With no-one watching. Yes dear Mama, those days are coming.

So on my alone shower mornings, this is when my brain starts to tick through all the little ideas I have in my head. About how I want to paint that feature wall and put up some family pics, start doing a more structured morning routine and getting in those squats and lunges. Like, if I can just do 100 squats a day, I’m sure I’ll firm up these thighs. Things like the more nutritious dinners I’m going to make, the vegan cookbook I’m going to start using, oh and also how I’m going to clean up my kitchen cleaning cupboard – natural products only. And also – glass consol jars in the kitchen, like everywhere. With different beans and seeds and things in them, that I’m going to use to make gluten free muffins. And I need to actually get a bed for my kid now. That ‘transition floor mattress’ period is kind of over. His room is not looking anything like that Instagram saved collection I have for him. Oh and f**k! Christmas is like 6 weeks away. He may actually remember this one.

Get out shower. I must write all this stuff down. Right now. Get iPhone. Make more notes. Cool – that solidifies them in there with the other 500 notes I have. And then the spiral starts…

Have phone in hand… let’s quickly check Instagram, just for fun. Yaaaas. How does she look so good pregnant – second pregnancy and not a stretch mark in sight? Or cellulite. Click on her feed. Damn. How does everything in her house match so well? It’s like white with pops of greenery, and that mustard yellow that’s in fashion now. I bet if my house looked like that I’d be more motivated to do my squats. Shit. I really suck. And checkout that breakfast for her toddler – I actually need to make more of an effort. Put phone down.

Proceed downstairs and search cupboards to see if I have all the ingredients she listed to make that amazing breakfast. I don’t… obviously… because I’ve never bought them. Why the actual am I even looking?!

A new kind of pressure

Besides all the normal pressures we have of being a Mom, the digital world we live in today has created another whole set of pressures. And to be the perfect Instagram Mom is one of them. To have the perfect Instagram feed. To write the most profound quotes. To confess your undying love for your family. And then when there is some sort of Instagram craze to post a pic of yourself without your make-up on, you need to come up with another profound saying about how hard motherhood is and how this isn’t really your life… Can we actually just take a pause people. What the f**k are we doing? Why are we trying so hard to portray these perfect little moments? Who are we doing it for?

Okay, okay… let me take a step back. I actually love Instagram. It’s the only social media channel I’m actually active on in my personal capacity. I love getting inspiration there. I’ve been religious with posting in date order on my private account since my son was born, so that I have a digital little timeline of his life and we often sit together and scroll through it and he loves to watch videos of when he was younger.

But there is an element of self control that I have realized is very important when it comes to my sanity as a Mother, a Mother on Instagram. I need to be very picky with who I follow, how I digest the info that is landing up in my feed and what I choose to compare myself with. What are my values? What do I want to be teaching my child? That a perfect looking home and body means a perfect life? No. Definitely not. And what is a perfect body? What is a perfect home? Is it slim and toned? Is it Scandinavian kids rooms? Maybe.

Slim and toned – it’s obviously the ideal in society. It’s healthy, it’s hot. We can’t deny this. But it also doesn’t mean that voluptuous, big-boned, cellulite or flabby tummy’s isn’t healthy or hot. Honestly… I’m the “fattest” I’ve ever been. I’m the flabbiest I’ve ever been. I’m the least fit I’ve ever been. I have the most cellulite I’ve ever had. But I also have a happy child. A messy Insta feed that brings us joy and tells our story. And a real life behind those photos. A life in the real world that I choose to focus on.

The further down the path I get on my journey of motherhood, the more I learn about myself, and the world I was born into. The more I realize that there is no “ideal life”. If we look at what we have created around us, and the lives we are living, we can usually find something to be extremely grateful for and proud of.

I chat to a lot of Moms, and I see this common thread. A feeling of “less than” or “not enough” – but the only people who can create those feelings, are ourselves. We are creating these comparisons. Wishing we were more like this or more like that, or that our lives were just ever so slightly different. I don’t have the solution, but all I know is that you won’t find it by scrolling through Instagram. You’ll feel better, when you focus more on your real life – doing the small things that make you happy, buying the things that you really want and decorating your house the way you want it to look. Mustard yellow will be out of fashion soon by the way…

You don’t have to make all those vegan meals, use all the natural cleaning products, or do all those squats. You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. You can be happy as you are. Give yourself more credit for where you’re at. You’re actually doing amazing. And you’re enough, as you are.

“Where you are, is exactly where you need to be. Trust the timing of your life.” ~ Marie Forleo

Shannon McLaughlin

Shannon is the Founder of Ubuntu Baba baby carriers. She is passionate about helping new parents adjust to 'life with baby' through the art of babywearing and talking about the reality of motherhood in the 21st century.


  • Nicolette Heyns says:

    Thank you Shannon can so relate to this …social media is awesome yet so many of us feel we fall short of being the perfect mother ,wife and woman

  • Riette says:

    Thanks Shannon, your post is powerful and true and just what I needed to find in my inbox tonight. What a crazy world that has us believing we need to make moments for photos, rather than simply for joy. I will be forwarding this to my mom friends…

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