I was scrolling through Facebook and Instagram as I was getting the baby down for what felt like the 700th time (yeah molars!) on Saturday night. I started seeing picture after picture of Easter baskets popping up. Really, it was more like Easter displays with overflowing baskets and tables piled high with gifts and treats. Wow I thought, our baskets are pretty measly. Each kid got a book, a small toy and a chocolate rabbit.
I’ve seen a few articles in passing here and there saying that Instagram and Facebook were bad for our self esteem and trigger “envy and resentment.” I kind of laughed those off, because really any media can do that. It’s not isolated to new media. Maybe it’s different because when someone looks through a Pottery Barn catalog wishing for that lovely beach house, or flips through Vogue coveting a great pair of shoes they know it’s a prepackaged image? I kind of always thought those article were very, “Duh . . . of course I’m envious of my friends in Hawaii who had Christmas in sundresses while we endured the worst winter ever.”
This weekend however hit me that even if the images I’m seeing aren’t making me envious and resentful, they were affecting me. I didn’t post an Easter basket picture. What was the point? There was nothing to show off. On this a holiday which, to my family, was not at all about earthly gifts, I was suddenly acutely aware how what we were and weren’t giving looked like to others. I felt like I would have to explain that my kids will get two more baskets (from Grandma’s), that the big kids had birthdays this week and next, that it’s just not about gifts for us. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got, but not in the way you would think.
I was angry at myself.
Angry that I let other peoples’ lives value mine. Angry that I measured myself against others and changed my habits because of that. That’s not why I am here, that’s not why I write and Instagram and tweet. I am a storyteller. I am telling the story of my life, our lives, not anyone elses.
So today I tweeted a picture of my daughter’s small pile of birthday gifts. Her decorations, not fancy, but hung with love and attention by her siblings.
I shared because it’s what I do. I share our story. Hopefully in doing so it will remind all the other mothers that not everyone is kicking the holidays up a notch. That some of us are running to the store for classroom cupcakes after school drop off and our keeping things simple because life is too full for anything more, and that’s okay. Our baskets may look empty but our lives are very full.