The Stories We (Don’t) Tell

Social media is strange. “I hate it. I love it. I HATE it. I’m QUITTING. I’M SO SERIOUS, THIS TIME.” *Scroll, scroll.* “Ok, wow, that was really insightful. Maybe I’ll give it another week.”

That’s sort of my relationship with social media in a nutshell. It turns out I can’t really quit it because it’s how many people in my circle/church/etc. communicate and the way things are administrated and the way to blah blah blah. And much of the time I resent this, but then there are those tweets or statuses or instas or whatever that I read that cause to me to pause and think, that encourage me just when I really need encouragement, or that shift my perspective. I think it will always be a love/hate relationship, but such is the modern world.

What a strange, bizarre world in which we live. Take twitter, for instance: Donald Trump can use it to insult people’s hair and face and ethnicity. Jimmy Fallon can use it to make us all laugh hysterically. Regular plain-jane citizens can use it to hold police accountable and to spread breaking news. And then sometimes folks can use it for spiritual pondering and the uplifting of others. I can’t figure out if I hate it or love it.

The real booger about social media is that it becomes difficult to be totally honest while using it. I don’t mean that people tell blatant lies (although I know that happens). It’s just very natural that a pieced-together, half-finished puzzle doesn’t give us a complete picture of a life.

Of course, some people exacerbate this phenomenon…we all have those certain “friends” who of course only post about lunching at the Four Seasons, hiking along the Pacific Coast, their perfectly curated, magazine-worthy living room, running on the beach at sunset, writing their novel in a cabin in the forest, or the fact that their business has just tripled in size. C’mon, dude. There were a few things that happened in between there…we all know you had a day where you walked out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to your shoe.

The point is that social media gives the world a narrative about our life, and it’s very easy for that narrative to become skewed from reality. I’ll give you all an example from my life…

We’ve chosen to homeschool this past year because obviously we’re masochists. Ok, truly, there are some things I am so very thankful for in it, but WOWIE this is the hardest thing I have EVER done besides parenting these beauties. I don’t generally blog about homeschooling, because, well, I don’t have much to offer on this subject. I’ve spent this past year learning from amazingly skilled and wise homeschool veterans, and also just trying to keep my head above water. Send prayers.

I also don’t post much about homeschooling on social media, because to tell you truth, I don’t think I can emotionally handle all the internet advice that would garner. Yes, actually, I am aware that I could be doing this better. I didn’t really need you to point that out. I’m drowning in sight words and math facts and “but MOOOOOOMMM”s, so what I could really use is a life boat, but thanks anyway. AAAAAAAAnywhooo. This past month, there have been a few instances where I briefly considered giving the internet world a peek into our homeschool experience. VERY briefly. And usually the next day something would happen that would cancel out the experience from the day before, leaving me very grateful I didn’t. Allow me to show you what I mean…

One day–MLK Jr. Day, to be exact–we had one of those beautiful homeschool moments that all homeschool parents dream of. You know, when the learning unicorns come down and sprinkle empathy and enlightenment dust on your sweet children’s heads, and all are growing together in harmony. (This has happened 2 days out of our entire school year. I feel very cheated. Learning unicorns, I am really starting to doubt your existence. You could stand to show up a bit more.)

In the course of covering different units during the school year, we’ve read a few books about diversity, Civil Rights, and Martin Luther King, Jr. So the little student had a little background. On MLK, Jr. Day, we read a more comprehensive biography, and when we got to the part where he was shot and killed, my little six-year-old began to cry. No lie. I wasn’t sure whether to think it was sweet or to really question my parenting decisions. She blurted out through the tears, “He was such a good man. Our country needed him.” And there was my beautifully-paved teachable moment: Yes, baby. We did. But you know what? Our country needs us. We can follow his lead and carry on the work of kindness, justice, and equality he started. We talked a little about ways we can do that, and ways our country needs help with that today. And then I gave her a prompt and we did this little art project together:

MLKDay

Isn’t that sweet? Yes. Kumbaya. Joy to the world.

And now for our next moment, the one that’s not so magical. It was quickly turning out to be one of those days where every subject, every assignment, was a battle. The learning unicorns were suspiciously NOT present. I was pulling out every Mary Poppins trick in the book. We did “brain breaks,” We did games. We did jumping and moving around the house things. I was trying every creative way imaginable to engage our particular young mind in math and phonics, and she really was just having none of it. She had put her tiny foot down. School was NOT going to go well today, she had decided. And when this fiery girl decides something, it’s over. So here was our sight word worksheet for that day:

goaway

Yes. Isn’t that lovely? I mean, the obvious passion that went into that artwork. The precision with which she expressed herself and showed mastery of language. Clearly the Mary Poppins stuff was working out beautifully.

So there you have it, folks. As you can see, if I would have given you that first glimpse with a little photo and 2 sentences about it, you would’ve thought I was a homeschool wizard. And if I would’ve only shown you the second one, you wouldn’t know the fruit of the hard days spent persevering. Life is complicated. Sometimes you feel like you can take on the world, and sometimes you feel like you need to spend the day in the fetal position under your covers. And that’s ok. All I’m saying is, let’s be honest about it.

Every day is not rainbows and roses. But every day is also not cloudy and dark either. Here’s a metaphor for life: The rainbows will never happen without the rain. They have to happen on the same day, hand in hand, that’s the way it works. And if we never tell our cloudy, rainy stories, the world will never believe our rainbow ones.

I’m not saying we need to spill all our guts and skeletons on social media, but we need to have places and people in our lives that hear ALL our stories. The clouds and the rainbows. The cool stories and the extremely embarrassing ones. We need to live our lives honestly, not spending time crafting our image and painting a skewed picture for the world.

More to come on this later…

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