The Facebook Version Versus The Real Life Version

by Andrea Mara
Originally Published: 

I took a photo of my kids sitting on a picnic blanket today, smiling up at the camera, and immediately thought “Oh that’s lovely – I should put it on Facebook!”

The Facebook version of our day went something like this…

We’re just back from vacation, experiencing a heatwave (which basically means temperatures hit 70 – it’s Ireland), and the kids all slept till 8am. So far, so fabulous.

We played in the garden all morning, then we had lunch there, on a picnic blanket – hence the snapshot. After that, we laid out ingredients on the garden table to make homemade ice-pops to freeze for tomorrow, which was a lovely way to spend time with my two daughters while the baby napped peacefully in his cot.

Then some further mother-daughter bonding; the girls painted my nails, and I painted theirs.

After that, we made heart-shaped sandwiches from a recipe in my daughter’s cook-book, and brought them with us to the playground for a late afternoon picnic, while taking turns on the swings.

Then we stopped off to choose some fresh fruit and vegetables for tea, and headed home to the still warm garden for another outdoor meal. The perfect end to a perfect day.


Everything above is technically true, but this is the real story of the day – the bit that the photo on Facebook doesn’t tell…

The entire morning was spent squabbling; listening to squabbling and breaking up bouts of squabbling – mostly the two girls fighting over who should be the princess in the game and who should be the sister.

There was some serious foot-stomping when I refused to let them have yogurts two minutes before lunch was ready. The picnic itself was a big mess really – food squashed into the blanket, the toddler putting his feet into his horrified sisters’ plates, and more arguments over who got the biggest sandwich. My Facebook photograph captured one quiet, happy moment during an otherwise chaotic mealtime.

The homemade ice-pops, which sound good on paper, were really just bits of whatever we had in the refrigerator thrown into ice-pop holders: water, orange juice, grapes, and one lone strawberry.

The nail-varnish the girls put on me was all over the place, and because it was some kind of gel-based paint (why?), it took half an hour to clean off after they’d gone to bed. Of course, then I had to neatly reapply it, so that they wouldn’t be offended the following morning.

The heart-shaped sandwiches? They were heart-shaped in the recipe book, but our version; not so much. We basically spread jam on bread, cut it into triangles and strips, and rolled the strips.

The playground was fine, except for when my four-year-old came over crying, because a bigger girl had told her to get off the swing. I have never confronted another child on a playground, but my daughter was so upset, I felt I needed to do something. So I spoke to the child, gently but firmly, to say it’s nicer to take turns, and that we shouldn’t tell another child to get off the swing. It transpired that the girl had just asked for a turn, and my sensitive little four-year-old had misunderstood; she didn’t know how to deal with it. Lesson learned by me – no more jumping in.

Our grocery trip was just as you might imagine it to be with three tired, hungry kids, and our tea in the garden was plagued by two tenacious, over-sized flies, now deceased.

But you know what? It was a good day whichever way you look at it.

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