I was scrolling though Facebook this week and came across a post. There was nothing extraordinary about it. A mom had taken a cute picture of her kids playing something. It was sweet and one of those moments Facebook is good for capturing. But at the bottom, it said, “Excuse our messy playroom.” It made me sad.
I know I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s worth talking about again. We need to stop apologizing for being…well, people. If I were to visit 10 peoples’ playrooms on any given day, I imagine 9 would be messy. That’s why they’re called playrooms and not showrooms. I know social media is weird. I know it’s not natural for hundreds of people to know where you’re having breakfast today or that your kid got perfect attendance, but we can do better. Even in this weird medium where I know intimate details about high school friends I would probably avoid if I ran into them at the grocery store. Let’s just be real, messy playroom and all.
It reminds me of when I’ve visited the teacher store right before the beginning of the school year. I see so many teachers using hundreds of dollars of their own money to make their classroom great. While that’s noble, I always want to stand up on one of the overpriced tables and announce, “Attention teachers! This is why you aren’t given a budget. It’s because everyone expects you to do this. If you just refused for a few years, you may actually get money to use in your classroom.” I promise I’m going somewhere with this.
If we stop apologizing for our messy playrooms when we take pictures of our kids, maybe it wouldn’t be a thing after all. (I always notice the mess only after someone points it out). So, don’t do it. Be unapologetic about your being human. There’s nothing wrong with it.
Obviously, when I say be real, I don’t mean to air dirty laundry on Facebook. I once wrote a post and some lady I didn’t know commented that her daughter won’t listen to her on some issue. I was thinking, “Luckily her daughter won’t see this.” And then SHE RESPONDED! She was like, “Mom, if you have a problem with my parenting, you should talk to me directly.” Talk about awkward! So, no that’s not what I’m talking about. But I am saying, be real. Don’t give into the pressure to make everything Instagram perfect.
On the flip side, don’t be the person your friend feels she needs to defend herself for. If you scroll through social media and think, “Now that’s a messy playroom” and miss the adorable kids playing in the picture, let go of that attitude of comparison. It’s a gross place to live.
Last weekend my daughter was in a dance competition. I could do a whole series about the things that happen a one of those, but I saw something really cool. Typically when a group dances, you can tell which studio they are from by who in the audience is cheering. So, someone does a cool turn and a swell of noise comes from a section where everyone is wearing the same colors and you know who their people are. Well, there were three girls sitting in front of us who we couldn’t identify. They didn’t have jackets touting one studio or another, but they were very energetic fans. Soon, we realized they were cheering for a few different groups. We asked them, “Which studio are you with?” Their answer was awesome. “We’re not competing here. We’re ballet dancers and this stage is where we train. We just love coming to see the other dancers and cheering them on.” Well, it made me think.
Maybe people would choose to be real if more of us just showed up to cheer them on. With all the amazing things happening at that competition (and the dancers were truly amazing), I was most moved by three girls in the audience.
Let’s stop apologizing for being human and let’s make sure we aren’t the reason for someone else’s apology. Instead, let's be like the three ballet dancers. Let's show up to cheer people on.