Two years ago I was going through one of the hardest times in my life, yet most days I uploaded photographs of my wonderful life and kids onto social media, and hashtagged about family, love and happiness. Today I want to share the real life behind the photographs to prove to people that behind most happy social media photographs is a world of hurt. These are my #reallife photographs!
My two daughters building sandcastles in the palm tree shadows in Noosa, Australia. I remember hashtagging the living daylights out of this photo. Hashtag daughters, hashtag happy, hashtag family. But what a load of tosh that was as I was sad, unhappy and struggling to parent my eldest daughter, who at the time was seven years old. This picture was taken two years ago when we were right in the middle of our ADHD journey with Sarah. We were on a road trip from Cairns to Brisbane and shortly after this picture was taken I completely lost my shit! It was a sweltering day and being so hot and sticky seemed to amplify the situation! Sarah had a massive screaming fit; I ended up screaming back at her, and then the other two kids started crying. I also started crying and as we drove off I noticed a family sitting on the deck of their house. I saw their faces; they had witnessed everything. I hated myself, and I hated who I had become.
This picture was in Cairns during the same road trip. It was a beautiful warm night, so the children ran off to play in the Esplanade lagoon by the beach. I was so used to losing Sarah, but on this night I decided not to be my usual ‘helicopter mum’, and to be more relaxed like all the other parents. I watched Sarah and her sister happily play in the pool with all the other kids and snapped this picture and posted to Instagram, hashtagging again about happiness and family. Minutes later, I realised that I had lost Sarah. I started to panic and ran around everywhere shouting her name. I was now definitely not like the other calm Mums who stood around chatting with children at their feet. I spent the next five minutes (which felt like a lifetime) running around frantically looking for Sarah. I eventually found her, screamed at her and found myself once again feeling like the worst Mum ever.
The picture I took of Sarah when she was going through her ‘car surfing’ faze. It was during a time when I was trying to embrace the ‘crazy’. I had no idea what the hell to do about her behaviour and shouting and timeouts were only making things worse. So, I tried to go with it – but this also didn’t work! Moments after posting it to Instagram and hashtagging about embracing my ‘fun loving’ daughter, Sarah had a meltdown. It took us about forty minutes to get her into the car. She was screaming, running off, hiding and shouting at us all. I cried buckets and told myself what a failure I was as a Mum.
I think it’s so important for Mums to know that behind most of those ‘happy photos’ someone is going through something that they are to scared to share. They may have fallen out of love with their husband; they may hate being a mother and want so badly to go back to how things were when they were single. They may have had the worst row with their partner, family, friends or kids. They may be suffering from crippling anxiety, depression or loneliness. We all have something; every single one of us.
I wrote ‘Saving Sarah’ for all the Mums that are doing what I was doing. The Mums who are too scared to tell anyone the truth about their child. The Mums who hide what’s going on because they feel they will be judged or their child will be judged. I wrote it for the Mums who are struggling so much to cope that have found themselves on antidepressants just to be able to function. To the Mums who’s relationships are falling apart because all they think, talk and dream about is their child. The Mums who are self-loathing and telling themselves that they are a failure. I wrote it for you.
You are not a failure; you are a hero. A hero because you are going through this pain every single day of your life. A hero for trying so hard to protect your child, your family and your relationship. You are at this point in your life, because your life has something to show you. It may not feel like it now, but this journey will eventually teach you something about you, your past, your life and everything that you are. You are being tested right now, but you can do this – the Universe has your back!
And remember; ‘no one’s life is as perfect as their social media’, we are all going through something. Every, single, one of us. #reallife.