The Life Of Mum: Instagram V Reality

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I love social media.  As I don’t go out to work, raising children and writing all day, I get very little social interaction other than via the internet.  I am able to keep in touch with friends and family from around the world without having to buy travel tickets or even get out of my pyjamas, and it means I get to share my beautiful family and the development of my children with ease.

I have many friends without children, and some of them either plan to in the future some time or are actively looking to try soon, and to those friends I would like to apologise.  I would also like to beg them not to base their decision on whether or not to breed based on my photographs…

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all fake and I don’t ever “create” photographs, they’re all genuine… but reality isn’t always what it seems.


Playing Legos

INSTAGRAM: Look how cute these kids are.  A lovely moment between a brother and sister playing Lego bricks and building a house.  How nice it must be to have two, they can entertain each other meaning you get time to relax with your feet up and a hot cup of tea!  And doing something creative like Lego bricks!  Bliss.

REALITY: “ZEKE TOOK MY BRICK!” “ROSE TOOK MY DOOR!” “AAAAARGH!” Sitting quietly watching your kids play together nicely?!  Are you insane?!  No, just no.  Yes they will play for a few minutes, and it’s lovely, but you don’t dare relax because your Spidey senses are constantly tingling waiting for one or the other, or both, to erupt.

And creative Lego bricks?  Yes… they’re great… my kids love Legos.  I used to love Legos.  Little bastard bricks get EVERYWHERE.  Especially when the girl child is prone to strops and chucking a built thing down so it explodes, and the boy child’s favourite game is shoving them as fast as he can under the TV unit so his very pregnant and achey step mother has to scramble around on her side like a beetle that can’t right itself trying to fish the stupid things out.



Snakes And Ladders

INSTAGRAM: What a happy little girl playing a traditional family board game.  What innocent and perfect fun to have together.

REALITY: I hate Snake and Ladders.  I hate it.  We play it over and over and over and over and over and over.  And over.  And over and over.  Stupid damn game.  The girl child cries when she loses, the boy child strops when he wins.  Arguments over who has what colour counter happen, then we suggest swapping the counters for miniature My Little Pony and Batman figures, and then war breaks out because Rainbow Dash touched Batman’s cape.



Gymnast Of The Week

INSTAGRAM: My little girl won Gymnast Of The Week at her gymnastics lesson, what a talented and clever little girl to be awarded a trophy for her accomplishments!

REALITY: How did she win!?!?  I don’t know…  as the door opened to release the class her father and I were mid conversation about how she will never, ever win.  Why?  It’s not because she’s not talented or clever or genuinely lovely, it’s because she’s a cheeky little monster who queue jumps, sneaks extra turns, and generally makes a nuisance of herself.  Yes, she loves her lessons, but yes she winds everyone up in the process.


Decorating Sonograms

INSTAGRAM: A beautiful arty activity where both kids got to decorate copies of the new baby’s sonogram.  A lovely family bonding activity getting to be creative and celebrate the growing family!

REALITY: WAR.  As in… war.  Z is not particularly into arts and crafts but agreed to do it, Miss Rose is very into arts and crafts and went nuclear about Z stealing her thunder.  Nuclear.  I’ve never seen her tantrum to that extent before or since.  I thought her head was going to fall off.  She was banished so I could focus on Z and attempt to get him involved, hard baring in mind Miss Rose was very distracting and he’s not that bothered anyway, and then I was left attempting to deal with the ridiculous performance my daughter was putting on.


Sleeping Beauty

INSTAGRAM: A six thirty bedtime leaving you the whole night of calm and peace and adult time.

REALITY: Yes she is often asleep at 630, that’s no lie, but it’s not all sunshine and flowers.

a) I’ve worked my ASS OFF to get her into a good bedtime routine.  From when she was tiny and it took literally hours and both of us crying at various points, I worked on establishing a routine and recognizing sleep cues.  It wasn’t easy and often I doubted myself.  I made mistakes, I tried things that didn’t work, and it was really hard damn work.

b) It doesn’t always work.  She has nights still, at three years old, where she will fight and scream and act like a total madam  to get out of going to sleep.  Nights where I will have to leave the room just to avoid screaming in her face because I’m so tired and frustrated.

c) She has only JUST started sleeping through the night.  And it’s not every night still.  She is three years old and now, finally, we can almost depend on a solid night’s sleep from her.  Then you get nights like last Saturday where she’s getting up constantly resulting in all of us being so tired and miserable on Sunday that we just lie around being grumpy.

d) We’ve had huge rows over sleep.  What we should do, what we shouldn’t do.  What she does and doesn’t need.  What’s the right response to waking in the night.  Sometimes I think he’s too hard, sometimes he thinks I am.  Sometimes we both agree there’s a problem but how to address it causes big disagreements.

e) With Z it’s even harder because he has different homes to go to sleep in, so different routines and different expectations.  I had an established bedtime routine in place for Miss Rose long before I met The Boy and Z, and clung to it because it worked and I had relied on it as a single mum desperate for a chance to have time to myself.  It’s still hard balancing two different children with different expectations raised for a long time in different ways.


Steam Mopping

INSTAGRAM: I often share photos of my little girl helping with chores… and often it’s vacuuming or steam cleaning my living room carpet!  She’s so enthusiastic about cleaning and helping out and LOVES being involved in household jobs.

REALITY: She does love being involved and will vacuum and steam clean every day if I let her… but it involves a lot of me scurrying around after her making sure doesn’t swing the damn thing into the TV, doesn’t touch the hot bit, and doesn’t tangle herself in the cord so she falls down and cracks her skull open on the hearth.

Also… ask yourself this.  I carpet shampoo and steam clean my carpet A LOT.  Why do  you think that is?  Do you think it’s for fun?  It isn’t.  It’s because children are disgusting.   It’s because my carpet gets regularly sprayed in assorted bodily fluids, foot stuffs, drinks and paints.  It’s because kids don’t see the mud all over their shoes and will race across my beige carpet before I can wrestle them to the ground and get the shoes off their feet.  It’s because if I didn’t clean it all the time it would stink and look like as gross at it is.  And because my daughter, bless her heart, will eat anything off this carpet.


Brother Sister Cuddles

INSTAGRAM: Two tired kids having lovely cuddles on the sofa.  Bless, they’re so adorable.

REALITY: No, they are not adorable.  They’re terrors.  This was taken at half past nine in the morning, why do you think they’re so tired?  Because they’re well rested after a good night’s sleep?  No.  No that’s not it.  They’re this tired because the little blighters were up all night, got us up for the day before 6AM, and proceeded to fight one another like Gladiators.

Also, this was a moment where they were remarkably still and quiet.  Before and after this shot there was elbows ramming into one another, wriggling, fussing, crying, and complaining.  There was blanket ownership competition, sofa space moaning, and arguments about what we watch on Netflix.  They were both overruled, him and his demands for Batman and her CONSTANT need for Peter Rabbit, and I made them watch The Big Bang Theory.  That was great until I realised it was an episode I hadn’t seen and I couldn’t hear what was happening because the menaces were arguing with one another so loudly.

So yes, I am sorry.  If you ever look at my photos and think “ah, being a mum looks easy!” then I am lying to you.  If you’re a fellow mum who looks at my photos and wonders where the hell you’re going wrong, I am lying to you.

It is not easy, it’s hard.  It’s hard every day.  And you’re not going wrong at all, you’re in the same boat as me battling every day to raise children you don’t hate and who have a chance at not being arrested before they’re 12 for crimes against humanity.

I can also assure you I love my children.  I love them so much.  I love that Miss Rose loves to play Snakes and Ladders with me so much and delights in her daddy being at home on the weekends to join in.  I love that they will play together, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, because growing up with a sibling is something I found invaluable.  My brother and I regularly attempted to end one another’s lives, but as adults I adore him.

My children are my world.  But there are no words for how exhausting the world is for having them in it.



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