Real life and an Instagram feed are not the same thing… usually

Let me set the stage for you. One year ago almost exactly, I had twin one year-old toddlers. Let that sink in a second… twin one year olds… yes, two of them. It was Halloween and we had the perfect twin costume, Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. It had all the potential to be Instagram feed worthy, or so I thought.

child running away from photo
Exhibit A

My husband and I had jokingly argued for weeks ahead over who was going to be Buzz and who was going to be Woody. He won that argument, so, Grady was Buzz and Greyson was Woody. Side note: Grady is currently crazy obsessed with Woody…so who’s the real winner here?! Anyway, the costumes were the real deal- straight from the Disney store, and cost more than I care to admit. We had dressed them up the previous weekend and brought them to my parents houses. It was a bit of a bust, I mean one year olds don’t really eat candy, and trying to get not one, but two 1 year olds to smile at the same time is just about impossible.

Our Halloween Instagram feed photo shoot…

So here we are on Halloween night, dinner was eaten, costumes were on, and I try (keyword) to pose my boys for a duo picture. One scoots off into the living room. I try again. The other starts crying and slips away. I am many things, but a quitter is not one of them. So you bet your bottom dollar (does that make me sound like a Grandma?! …yep) that I tried yet again to get the perfect Instagram feed worthy shot. They didn’t have to be smiling, they just had to be there- in the stinkin’ picture! But that was just not happening.

Halloween costume picture with mom for instagram feed

I slowly felt my anxiety rising. How is anyone supposed to know how freaking adorable my kids are if I don’t post the perfectly curated photo later tonight? Everyone is going to be bragging on their adorable little ghosts and monkeys and princesses and I literally had a picture of the back of my kids heads. Perfect.

Then, my husband made a comment to me… He said that this really was supposed to be fun. Whoa. Smacks ya right in the face when you think of it like that. This was supposed to be fun. Fun for us to see our children happy and excited, fun for them to dress as their favorite characters, and fun to watch them see all the costumes that came to our door. At that moment I realized that I needed a serious shift in perspective. This night was not about the perfect picture for an Instagram feed, it was about the moments.

I get how terrible this sounds as I type it all up and lay it out for you in a nice neat package (or blog post). But, we all know how often this happens.

Okay Mama, fess up…

Your parents take a picture of your child, it’s so adorable, but he has some lunch still on his cheek…. “what are people going to think about me? That I don’t care about my children being clean?” Your husband snaps a photo of you snuggled on the couch with your little love but all you can see is the 5 extra pounds of baby weight that you carry in your middle…even though your littlest is entering kindergarten next fall…so that picture isn’t “worthy” of your Instagram feed. Or the best yet- you captured the sweetest interaction between your two kiddos (who are usually fighting) but there are toys everywhere! People will think that you’re a terrible homemaker! Big fat nope, not going up on social.

Perfect halloween photo for instagram feed.  Woody and Buzz halloween costumes.

When I loosened up a bit, and let things happen as they were meant to, my kids became a bit more chill too. We looked at all of the cool costumes, prayed to see another giant blow up Dino, watched a Halloween movie, and stayed up way past our bedtime. The pictures that we have from that night aren’t what I was looking for, but they were real and perfect and exactly what they were supposed to be.

If Instagram feeds existed in 1997…

Do you know what the pictures from my childhood Halloweens look like? A lot like our pictures from last year. Do you know what I remember from them? Treak-or-treating in the freezing cold, our parents tagging along, going house to house until we filled our pillowcases with candy. I remember going to our grandparents first to show off our cool costumes, and them always having a little bag of goodies waiting for us. Then we’d go home and trade candy with each other so we could all have our favorites. I think we have pictures from a handful of these Halloweens, and none of them are really “Instagram feed worthy” in the perfectly curated sense, but all of them are most definitely memory worthy.

Mom holding children in costumes on halloween night

Those pictures–they ignite the memories. Those memories, as far as I’m concerned, are absolutely perfect. Something about Halloween one year ago has changed me in a way I wasn’t expecting. It has made me see the fact that life is perfect, without a filter, or a clean living room, and with the extra 5 pounds. We spend so much energy (and time) focusing on creating the best “highlight reel” that we forget that we do not live in the movies. This is real freakin’ life. Real life is messy, and colorful, and often contains a tantrum or two. In real life we aren’t always dressed in our best, with perfect hair and makeup. You may be in our comfiest leggings, with a bit of baby snot on your shoulder from cuddling your sick peanut, and that really is perfect.

How do we get past this?

This is why when I met Gabi from Gabriella Hunt Photography, I knew that she was something special. Gabi is passionate about perserving the beauty in the everyday moments. Not just the big moments either, like birthdays or holidays (but yes those too), but the little seemingly insignificant ones. Those moments in actuality mean just about everything. Everyday you put your little to bed at night, but did you ever stop to think what those moments might look like from a bystander? The way you pull your babe onto your knee and read The Very Hungry Caterpillar three times- using their pointer finger to list off all of the foods that silly caterpillar ate. What if someone captured just how tightly you hugged your child as you put them into their beds? Or how you kissed their cheeks while inhaling that moment, in an effort to burn it into memory forever. What if we all just stopped trying so hard to meet everyone else’s expectations of perfect? How about if we realized that we are enough, just as we are? What could that do for you and your family?

dad helping twin toddlers read the very hungry caterpiller.  Beautiful photo for instagram feed.
Photo Cred: Gabriella Hunt Photography

Related Post: Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?

I am honored to be one of the current Brand Ambassadors for Gabriella Hunt Photography. As part of the ambassador program our family will receive a series of real life photo sessions over the next year. In these sessions, Gabi literally captures those everyday, common, but significant moments. A little over a month ago she came to our house and hung out with us for a few hours. The photos have blown me away. Want to know one of the coolest parts? I was not the least bit stressed.

Our family photo session…

Someone asked me a few days before what I was going to wear that day…and I realized that I hadn’t even thought about it. In wanting it to be as normal as possible, I figured I would choose a normal outfit that morning. As you can see, I literally wore jeans and a sweatshirt…nothing special at all.

Mom making brownies with children, instagram feed worthy
Photo Cred: Gabriella Hunt Photography

I didn’t have much planned either. We thought we’d watch a show, play outside, and make some brownies. Literally, all ordinary things! When Gabi came, she quickly eased our nerves and assimilated right into our family. She made it easy for us to go about our lives, all while she captured the moments. What I’ll tell you is that it’s not the attire or the planned content that makes these photos so amazing. It’s what she actually captured– our life. Seeing our everyday, from an outside perspective, brought me a whole new level of appreciation for my life and the magnificence in those typical moments. If you haven’t had a chance to see the slideshow, you can find it here.

Our next year with Gabi

I’m so excited for this next year working with Gabi and spreading the word that you (and your life-as messy as it may be) are enough. Your everyday is beautiful, and its high time that we start to recognize that. I hope that if you’ve read this far, you can see that just because your instagram feed highlight reel may not look like someone else’s, doesn’t mean that its any less beautiful. Real life isn’t always a perfectly curated, color coordinated instagram feed, and that is really okay. The beauty in life is truly found in those seemingly normal moments. You may not realize it now, but those everyday moments, are exactly what you’ll look back on with a smile. And, I promise you won’t give a damn about a messy face or living room 10 years from now, you’ll just be grateful that you took the picture. So, please take the darned picture.

a family snuggled on couch together, not instagram feed perfect, but adorable
How you can find us on a normal afternoon, all snuggled on the smallest couch in town…

Gabriella Hunt Photography can capture these moments for your family too! Just mention my name for 10% off of your session fee.

Your Millennial [real life] Mama,

Amber

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