I look at this picture that I posted last week on my Instagram, and I think back to when I looked at it through the LCD of my camera. I immediately thought of how Instagramable the picture was. The kazoo, the happiness in his eyes, and the sticker all embody what it is to live life with this little guy. If I hadn’t become one already, I was an Instagram Parent at that moment.
But then, after importing the image into Adobe Lightroom and scrolling through the thousands of images that go no one sees. I saw something that was going to bug me: the nose that is running… and has been for most of the winter. Most people would have given it a thumbs up on Instagram without even noticing. But I am not that type of family photographer.
It was just another perfect way to show what it is like to live with my youngest. I tried my hardest to take it out, unable to make it look like it was too photoshopped. But my limited abilities had me soon asking the question…
Can I put this image on Instagram?
As I scroll through Instagram at any given moment, I can’t help but notice the clean homes or the perfect poses that many Instagramers have. Their kids look perfect in that one split second of a moment that they are sharing, and not to say that mine don’t when I share pictures of them either. So many times, I have resisted the urge to post a cute image of my kids because there are dishes on the counter, or all of the toys weren’t picked up, or their (or my own) facial expression are feeling fake. We don’t have a chalkboard, or a pinboard to curate some cute caption that is seemingly ready at the most perfect moment.
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That isn’t the image that I have decided to paint on Instagram. I am that Instagram Parent that is not afraid to show the flaws in my pictures, much like the running nose of my youngest with the kazoo. I am also not afraid to show how messy the counter was with dishes on the night I made cookies with him and he ate the dough off the mixer (it was turned off… I got a lot of grief over that).
Then there is the image of two hardest days that I have had as a parent. I was stuck at home in the heat of the summer with two kids who had pink eye who couldn’t go to daycare or summer camp. The image is a perfect story of what life is like raising two boys. My oldest jumping on the couch, blurred out because he is moving too fast for my phones camera shutter, my youngest trying to crawl up on the couch because he wants to be like big brother, and then there is me… sitting there on the edge of the sofa, obviously sleep deprived, and worn out from being forced to keep my kids inside so that they neighbor kids who have been running around for the last 3 hours don’t become infected themselves with Pink Eye.
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Being An Instagram Parent… is hard work
Instagram has quickly become my social media platform of choice recently. I have made more of an effort to show what our life is really like, both through Instagram feed AND through my Instagram Stories. I’ve done what I can to keep the pressure of being an Instagram Parent at bay. However, those thoughts about what people will think with the vast amount of LEGO pieces in the background does go through my head from time-to-time.
But like I tell anyone who asks me about my social media strategy, I tell them exactly what I keep telling myself, “Know who you are, and stay true to your voice.” That is precisely what I have decided to do on Instagram. There might be that Instagram Parent who chooses to only show the good times, with a clean home, crisp whites, pin board with the right caption and there is nothing wrong with that image that they are putting out there. Then there will be those who just show a side of parenting that will have any new or future parent wondering what they are about to get themselves into… and there is nothing wrong with that image they are painting.
There is nothing wrong with either type of Instagram Parent. The life they have decided to portray on social media is ultimately up to them. Because one of the reasons that I enjoy the platform is for its positivity. Sure, there is a pressure for parents to be a certain way, but one observation that I have as I scroll through double tapping to give an image a thumbs up, time and time again, is that every picture the Instagram algorithm puts in front of me, is that of a parent that is involved in some form or fashion. THOSE are the images that truly inspire me and what I LOVE about being an Instagram Parent. A clean home or messy home, perfect pose or one that is about as candid as candid can be doesn’t matter to me. Being an involved dad is the image that I hope to convey as an Instagram Parent, and that is the image I like to see many parents put out there for the world to see.
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