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Behind the perfect Instagram photos are all the others I didn't take

It's the usual scene: 10 p.m., brushing my teeth, scrolling through Instagram. And while I love seeing my friends and their gorgeous babies and their beautiful lives, I can't help but start to feel a little down.

Wow. She had the stamina to stay outside long enough to build that huge snowman?

She's always sitting on the floor with her kids reading and playing.

Her house is always so cute and neat.

They went on another date in the city? That must be nice...

I don't begrudge my friends at all. I truly am happy for them.

I begrudge myself. Because once again, I feel like I'm not enough.

This modern day photo-album-highlight-reel has started to really shake my confidence. But the issue I am really grappling with is that I am a part of it, too.

I showed you the photo of the dog asleep on the floor, the space around him clean and clutter free. The dog bed he's asleep on matches the decor of the room, there's a fire blazing in the fireplace behind him, and the mantle above it looks like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog.

I did not show the photo of the piles of stuff I shoved behind me with the side of my foot before I took that photo. Cheerios, a lone mitten, stuffed animals who are missing parts of their bodies (thanks to that same dog) all around me, reminding me that yet again, I didn't tackle that decluttering project that's been on my list for a month.

I also didn't show you the random little white strips of paper scattered on the walls of our house that say “good"—my daughter found the label maker and made “stickers" to put on the walls to “remind you that you are a good mom."

I showed you the photo of my newly decorated office. I am beaming with joy—you can tell I feel excited and proud. “I absolutely love my work," I say.

I did not show you the photo of me pouring myself a cup of coffee at 7 p.m. because I know that I have yet another night of endless work ahead of me. Or the photo of me forcing my eyes to stay open at 1 a.m. as the world around me sleeps and I question why on earth I decided to 'go out on my own.'

I also didn't show you the photo of me after I finally do go to bed, staring at the ceiling because I am suddenly so excited by the idea of a new project that I can't fall asleep.

I showed you the date night photo—the one where I had asked the babysitter to come over an hour early so I could take a real shower, blow-dry my hair AND put make-up on. The one where my husband is wearing a shirt just out of the dry cleaning bag, and we're smiling at the camera, arms around each other, and we look very much in love. It's true, but...

I didn't show you the photo of us on the car ride home, sitting in silence, because one of us said something that the other one took the wrong way and now we're both annoyed that a perfectly good evening had to turn into this awkward stuck-in-traffic moment.

I also didn't show you the photo of my husband grabbing my hand in the hallway at 2 a.m., me on the way to hold our daughter's hair back as she threw up, him on the way to change the sheets that our son threw up in. He grabbed my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “It's going to be okay. We'll get through this, babe."

I showed you the photo of my three kids piled on my lap as we read a bedtime story. We're all smiling, one of them is kissing me while the other two hug each other, and they all happen to be wearing clean pajamas.

I did not show you the photo of what happened five seconds later—the hug devolved into a wrestling match, the kissing turned into a bite, and apparently one of them was secretly holding a tube of toothpaste because it is now all over his fingers and those clean pajamas.

I also didn't show to the photo of when I went to check on them later that evening to find my eldest in my youngest's crib—“I didn't want him to be lonely, Mommy."

I showed you the photo of me with the kids at Target. “Our fave place!" the caption reads. We're all making silly faces and my fresh Starbucks coffee looks like heaven in a cup.

I did not show you the photo of the checkout line meltdown, where literally all three of them are crying, everyone is staring, and I no longer have my coffee because I forgot it on a shelf somewhere while I was trying to keep my toddler from leaping out of the cart.

I didn't show you the photo of me slumped over on my bed that night, head buried in my hands as I just cry.

I'm not good at this.

This is just so hard.

Why can't I be like all those other moms who have it all together?

And then my phone dings with a message from my friend that says, “Today was ROUGH." Her Instagram photos from the day made me think she was having one of the unicorn-magical mom days—but no. It was a regular day in motherhood, just like mine. Just like all of our's.

Hectic, crazy, stressful, loving, loud, exhausting—real.

The photos I show you on Instagram are real (except for the ones that show a clean house), but they are only a sliver of my reality. I think I choose to show you those because they feel safe. They can't judge me if I only show them a sliver.

But here's the thing—the more I learn about other moms, the more I realize that you are not, in fact judging me. You're judging yourself. Just like I am. Just like we all are.

We hold ourselves to some impossible standard that does nothing but stress us out. If we look back at my day and it doesn't look like a spread from Pinterest, we somehow failed.

I think I want to be done feeling like that.

I am learning that the real beauty comes from those unexpected, unplanned moments that are hectic and crazy and stressful and loving and loud and exhausting and real.

It's the raw moments of motherhood that take your breath away.

So I vow to show you my mess. To show you the tantrums and tears and the doubts. Because those are all real moments of my life. My whole life is IG worthy, not just the sparkly perfect ones. It's not fair to other hidden beautiful moments of my life to only show you that tiny sliver.

I vow to find the beauty in my chaos. And I vow to see the beauty in yours.

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