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Keeping It Real

For several months now, I’ve been seeing posts of women, moms, and bloggers keeping it real. They may write an open letter to their readers or post a picture of their reality.

I’ve participated in this reality movement as well. I’ve shared a photo of my Momwear, posted a make-up free picture, and poured out my heartbroken soul. In no way do I ever want anyone to think my life is “picture perfect”. It’s not. Nobody’s life is perfect. 

Recently, the lovely and sincere Jessica from Pig and Dac shared her reality. I read her post and it resonated with me. I loved her honesty in saying that her life is actually quite mundane. So is mine! I’ve tried so hard to be “real” but does everyone get it?

  • Does everyone understand that we generally have the same routine every single day?
  • Does everyone get that sometimes I raise my voice with my girls?
  • Does everyone know that it takes some effort for me to look good in pictures (which is probably why there are so few of me)?
  • Does everyone realize that sometimes my girls watch too much TV because Mommy is in a funk (and is probably suffering from PMS)?

As I pondered this I began to think that the responsibility isn’t all mine. It’s yours too. Keeping it real is a two-way street.

If I post a picture of my girls and they look involved in an engaging activity, I’ve chosen to capture that moment. It’s your responsibility to know that this snapshot in time isn’t all there is to it! There’s the preparation for the activity. There’s the whiny voices asking if it’s ready yet. Then there’s the clean up (which is mostly done by me). 

If you see a photo of a fabulous cake I made, I encourage you to think of the 20 other photos that I deleted because the cake looked completely inedible. After all, who is going to want to make a cake that looks disgusting? 

Likewise, if I look at someone’s Facebook feed and see all the fabulous things going on in their life and that gets me down, that says something about me and my own insecurities. Here’s me being real: that HAS happened to me before.

I can’t control how or what others share. Nor would I want to. It’s up to ME to discern that no one’s life is perfect. It’s my responsibility to know that what I’m seeing and reading isn’t always a reality. 

I try to keep it as real as I can but the truth is, reality is only as fresh as this post. Tomorrow it will be lost to the 748 other posts on this blog.

Tomorrow I may share an art activity and if you stumble across my blog and decide I have it all together because of that post, well, that’s your own issue and a reflection of the way in which you choose to view me and the world around you.

I don’t plan on putting a warning on all of my posts indicating:

Keeping it real. Responsibility to keep it real on social media is a two-way street.

Is that what we want from one another? I don’t think so.

I will continue to share my realities but this can’t happen all the time.

However, there is something we can do all the time. We can choose to view social media, pictures, and blog posts with an open heart AND an objective mind. The responsibility of “keeping it real” is up to all of us.

Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care.

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70 thoughts on “Keeping It Real

  • meg-made

    I love this post Jennifer! Totally guilty of assuming everyone’s lives are always picture perfect and wondering why mine isn’t!!! One thing I remember is when I was asking a coworker how she takes such stunning food photos, she let me know that she takes on average 100 photos of each plate so that she can get it just right. This means they never eat a hot meal, it takes her about half an hour to stage, two hours to edit, and all for what…one lovely photo of dinner?! I am NEVER going to be that committed, so settle with my okay photos and a tasty hot dinner instead!!! The REAL you seems pretty perfect, thanks for sharing her! xx

  • Meg

    Ha! Sometimes I have the same feeling — or people say “How do you keep it together with so much going on?” I don’t, really — it just looks that way because I’ve snapped one cute picture and judiciously cropped the background to a minimum.

  • Debbie

    I like it, now that was a really honest post! It is up to us to keep things real in our heads.

    I remember reading an article a while back saying that Facebook is so addictive because people only share the good bits, which attracts attention from people who may not know any different, which in turn boosts the confidence of the poster in a non real way….So, so sad!

    Social media, digital cameras and photo editing sites have made it even easier to mask over the mundane reality in our lives. Sadly I think it is going to affect the younger generations more than us older ones, as they will be too afraid to be ‘real’, so it’s up to us to make sure that they know it’s okay to be real and that life really isn’t perfect for anyone.

  • Chelsea @ The Contented Wife

    Jennifer, this post is like a breath of fresh air! I’ve been thinking nearly the exact same thing lately. Why is it such a bad thing if a blogger posts a picture of their clean living room, or pretty craft, or neat activity with their kids? I don’t believe we should be fake, BUT I don’t understand why posting positive things makes the “authenticity police” scream “you’re not being real!!” You are so right – it IS a two way street. Just because someone posts something I deem better than what I have going on at the moment doesn’t mean I should feel like their life is better than mine or they have it all together and I don’t.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      Oh Chelsea, what a relief to hear that from you! I’ve been mulling this over for a while and have been holding onto this post for almost 3 weeks (while mustering up the courage to post it). I don’t necessarily think it’s intentional but it seems like those who have “nice photos”, “nice blogs”, etc. are being pigeon-holed and called out as not being real. Our perceptions and involvement on social media is a two-way street and a responsibility for all of us to “keep it real”.

      Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comment.

  • Susannah

    I think we all should be reading each others blogs/facebook posts/tweets/instagrams with a grain of salt. We know that WE don’t post our whole lives so we should remember that no one else does either. That’s not bad but we just need to remember it.

  • Joanne

    Thank you for the very insightful post Jennifer. I truly believe that a lot of the “mundane” feelings you and many others can relate to, are associated with being a mother (or father.) Life is not your own anymore, and as a matter of fact, *you* gets put on the back burner. I felt like I got a double whammy when I had a new baby AND opened a dayhome in my home. Everything became about “the kids.” Groceries, meals, events, spare time, etc., was all centered around everyone else. In the midst of everything about “everyone else,” I had definitely lost my identity and most times felt like a robot performing every day duties, day after day. Mundane?…yes. There are definite rewards for sure, in many different areas. But as far as having a life,…no, haha. I too remember taking pictures of a happy baby and me (looking happy) while suffering from postpartum depression. You wouldn’t have been able to tell from the pictures. One of my hubby’s favourite pictures of me was one I took when I had the H1N1 virus,lol. I was so sick but after a few days I was determined to get out of bed, put some clothes and makeup on and take a picture of myself (for some reason.) He thought I looked so dreamy, but the truth of the matter was that I felt like passing out! :-D Life for me is a whole lot different now than it used to be. My son is grown up (and is concerned for me, and just wants me to be happy,) I have a husband that centers everything around me and adores me, and I feel I finally have my identity back. I relish every day,…I can smile for pictures and look at the face staring back at me and truly say she is a happy chick. Not that there aren’t trials and setbacks, but I don’t know, I just feel so much different than I used to. I can totally relate to everything you’ve shared. This world has become so fake in many ways,…there’s this persona that is put out there and for the most part it causes more harm than good. Thank you for your encouragement to others to remain real and true to themselves and to look beyond other people’s perceived perfect lives and see that they also are “human” and go through the same things we do, day after day.
    Love ya!….♥

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      There’s so much that could be going on “behind the scenes” and unfortunately the world we live in compels us to take everything at face value and accept it. A culture of what’s fast and convenient has also led many to make assumptions based upon what we see. There is a responsibility and it needs to go both ways… not just for people to be “real” but also for people to be objective in what they are seeing (and not accept everything is as it appears to be).

      Thank you so much for sharing your insights, experience, and perspective. May your insightful comment help others.

      Wishing you a lovely day my friend.

  • Samantha

    This is a great post. So many of us get down because we see a fabulous blog post and think “why isn’t my life like that”. We have to remember we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes in these people’s everyday life. We don’t know what really goes on behind the blogs. I also liked Jessica’s post because it made me realize I’m not the only mom out there who feels that life can be a bit mundane but at the same time I appreciate every day.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this Samantha! We will never truly and fully know the “behind the scenes”. It’s so much healthier to think about and recognize that what we see is just a small snippet and is never the full view. Objectivity is absolutely necessary.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Yanic A.

    Love this post because I’ve actually reached out to mommy-bloggers before! A while back, when I really got into the Spielgaben home learning game set I bought, I was reading blogs by other moms using it and couldn’t believe how poised and perfect their kids looked doing these exercises when I couldn’t get my 3 yo to sit down for 3 minutes. My husband looked at me and said “I think you are spending too much time comparing our kids to other kids”… but that wasn’t the point. I wanted to know how they got their kids to do it… tricks, voodoo, I wanted to know. Well, most of them answered back laughing, telling me it,s all smoke and mirrors… that it took 50 unorganized pictures over several days to get the neat pretty portrait on their blogs. That is when I realized my kids, their kids, they are ALL kids!!!! And we are all moms trying to do our best.

    And I’M writing this right now, at 3 pm on a beautiful sunny afternoon while waiting for my hubby to get home so I can go to the drop in clinic with a persistent July cold while my kids, that could be playing outside on a beautiful summer’s day, are in the living room watching Shrek 2!

    Be good to yourselves mommas!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      Thank you so much for sharing this Yanic! Isn’t it amazing how our minds easily follow/believe what our eyes see. I’m glad you were able to clarify and get perspective on the Spielgaben home learning game! Good for you for reaching out!

      We need to filter things and not accept everything at face-value. There is often a lot taking place that we don’t know about.

  • Misty

    Yes!! I never understood the “Keep it Real” movement, although I’ve participated in it also. I’ve posted real pictures of my school room, and have mentioned “real” life on my blog. But, it is our responsibility to realize that we are all “real” people on the other side of the computer screen. Great post!

  • Susen @ Dabbling Momma

    This is a great post! It’s nice to be ‘real’ otherwise we are only fooling ourselves. At the same time I feel when a blogger posts a blog with great photos and the craft looks perfect that, that’s ok too! I look at that as the blogger caring about their content. Jennifer, you said it all when you said it is the readers responsibility to decide to keep it real or not. What we make up in our minds was made up by US not anyone else!!

  • Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life

    I’ll never put any of my dirty laundry online. It’s not that I’m ashamed we have it, it’s just that I don’t think it’s the whole world’s business. If someone chooses to think that my life is one happy-joy fest, based on what I do post (which believe me is fairly mundane), well that’s plain silly. No one’s is.

  • Tamara

    I loved Jessica’s post, and really any by her.
    I was thinking today about how it’s become a thing to keep it real, as if it’s such a novel thing to keep it real. When.. we all know what goes into writing a blog and navigating social media.
    I’m a professional photographer. Of all of my pretty pictures, there are many others that don’t make the cut. It’s bad for my business, but also, THIS is my reality too.
    It’s just slighted edited. So are my photos.
    Don’t tell anyone!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      I love Jessica’s posts too!

      I think the fact that you’re a photographer does change this expectation a bit. However, you have shared the real and raw stuff you’re going through too. I think people who don’t always share their “realities” should not be judged either. We, the viewers of posts and photos should have the discernment in knowing that life isn’t perfect for anyone… regardless of what they choose to share or not to share.

      PS – I love your photos. Your photos evoke such strong emotions… so beautiful.

  • Tiffany (A Touch of Grace)

    I loved Jessica’s post, and I love this one as well Jennifer. It’s so true that most of us don’t show the “behind the scenes.” Just like DIY and home bloggers only show the really good shots of a project or finished room. You see it at it’s best, not it’s worst.
    My life is also pretty boring. We always seem to be busy, but it’s really not that exciting. I definitely try to keep it real with my #graceeveryday photos; to just show glimpses into my life. No matter how mundane and boring it may be. :)

    Thanks for the great post Jennifer.

  • Jessica Dimas

    Loved this post Jennifer. You’re so right, it’s up to us to discern what’s staged for a photo and what’s real life. We as moms KNOW what real life with kids is. We all know that no other mom has it all together cause that’s not possible. There is big land of popular blogs and Instagram accounts that look so pretty, and on bad days when the 3 year old is tantrumy and the house is a mess and no dinner is planned, and you’re looking at these photos, it’s easy to get sucked into it all. But it’s definitely our own insecurities at play. And I don’t want to stop posting pretty or cute photos either! They make me happy! We definitely just have to remember REALITY and that NO ONE’s life is as perfect as their Instagram account. Great post Jennifer, as always :)

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      I loved your post Jessica and it really sparked me to think about how the responsibility is not just on the shoulders on the person who is posting but it’s also up to the person viewing and enjoying the social media to be objective and discerning. So thank you for the inspiration!

  • Gen Delali

    i love this, Jennifer! so true, it’s up to us to objectively understand that the lovely that has been captured by someone isn’t all there is. life is not a snapshot. it’s great to show/appreciate the good and beauty in our lives and that of others to remind us of God’s blessings, but we must remember that everyone has some form of brokenness they deal with every now and then.

  • Amanda - Growing Up Madison

    Hahaha you know that I love this. Do you know what keeping it real for me would mean? Madison’s room with toys all over the floor because she decided that cleaning up can be done on her time. The gazillion of photos I have to delete because she couldn’t be bothered with taking review photos because she would much rather play. I very rarely post photos of myself as well because I don’t think I look good in front of the camera. I don’t pay much mind to my FB feed any longer because I’ve come to realize that people very rarely post things that are bad but usually only the good stuff. Before they got that high paying job, how many rejections did they get, before that new house, what was it like before? All good stuff but sometimes when does keeping it real becomes too much?

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      I think mom bloggers feel the “keeping it real” pressure the most. I really wanted to show the other side; as participants/partakers in social media, we need to also have a realistic and objective interpretation of what we view. We shouldn’t ever be thinking someone’s life is perfect… it never is.

      Thanks for sharing (and for stopping by)!

  • Shana

    This is so true! I completely have posted about “keeping it real” and how things really are in our house because sometimes it just makes me feel better. You know like “whew” moment, I got that off my chest. But the reality is that there are perfect moments and we choose to capture them because they are usually far and between! lol Thanks for sharing!

  • Jen@JENerallyInformed

    Jennifer this is fabulous! I am a big believer of keeping it real and agree there are many ways to do this. Sometimes it’s okay to have that happy toddler pic posted even though you know that about 2 seconds later they melted down. Everyone knows toddlers melt down, but seeing that happy pic will help to capture a special memory. Great post!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      So glad you enjoyed this Jen! I hope that this post encourages others not to accept and judge everything they see as a full “picture” of someone’s life. We are seeing snippets, and we the viewers and participants of social media, can control how we interpret things. An open heart and an objective mind… that’s all that’s needed.

  • Caroline

    Amen! Preach it girl!! This is so true! I’m so glad you made this point. I think this can be applied to all people, not just mommas!!!! It is totally up to us what we do and don’t share – and that can be a positive or a negative thing for sure!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this Caroline… and yes, it applies to everyone! Plus we have more control over what we share AND how we interpret what others share. An open heart and an objective mind… discernment is crucial (especially now-a-days)!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Rebecca

    I love this! I try to keep it real..I mean, Dylan and I definitely share a condition that results in round-the-clock smiles and it can be very misleading when I discuss how nasty and mean he is. All you see is this smiling cutie pie and it’s like, really? Is he mean? No. But on the flip side, reality can be quite boring and I appreciate reading the details that make it fun and not-so-boring, even if it’s a bit of a reality stretch. As long as keep an open mind like you say, are objective about what we view/read, we should be okay. but lol, i totally don’t buy that it took 20 shots to get a good cake shot. That cake is gorgeous!!!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      LOL okay maybe it wasn’t 20 shots… perhaps it was just 10. Actually, I wrote this post 3 weeks ago before I made that cake (so the cake reference is completely incidental).

      We all know you keep it real… but I think it’s important for the people who are reading posts or looking at photos to have an open-heart and an objective mind. No one’s life is perfect and what we view is a minuscule portion of their life.

      Thanks for stopping by my friend.

  • Angela Gilmore

    I have to remind myself of this often. I have been caught scrolling through FB feeds for a few minutes and all of sudden feeling down and insecure. You are right, people choose the pictures they post. As a blogger with food posts, I completely understand that there are about twenty to thirsty shots not used of that perfect looking cupcake, and the one shot that is posted was chosen because it makes the subject look perfect. Thanks for posting this, we all have a responsibility!

  • Leslie

    Oooh, I’ve never heard this perspective before. You’re absolutely right, though. People will project their beliefs onto whatever they are reading/looking at. That said, I do believe that bloggers must be better attuned to how edited all online content is. If you’re not creating the content, it’s easy to be unaware of how much time (lots and lots of time) is taken to just get that one picture or post. Thanks for the reminder to keep others in our perspective.

  • Tawnya Faust

    YES! I just wrote a similar post on my own blog but I didn’t even think about it this way. You are so right, we can’t help what people post on their own social media but we can help how we perceive it!! Brilliant! Loved this post!!


  • Kristy

    Oh my, Jennifer! This is wonderful. The other day I did a post called “A Day in the Life,” and that was pretty much as real as it gets. But I of course want to continue the trend of keeping it real. I love, love, love when bloggers show their vulnerability and can connect for a second with the moms who are reading with their three-days-without-a-shower hair. It’s so funny that you post this today, because I have a post very similar scheduled to be published on Friday. Great minds. ;) Thanks for your honesty and your insight. I loved it!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      So glad you enjoyed this Kristy!

      I like the “keep it real posts” from bloggers too but I think readers shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people either. Just because someone chooses not to disclose the rough or emotional stuff in their lives does not make them any less real. Nor does having nice pictures and happy posts make them any less real.

      I’ll have to stop by and read your post on Friday!

      Thanks for visiting.

  • Remy

    This is so real Jen! behind our blogs, news feeds, social media interaction are real women who have messy house, children playing and fighting over toys, and even more we juggle all day with the chores of the house and this whole world of blogging.

    Greetings xoxo

  • normaleverydaylife

    I love the keep it real posts because they’re entertaining and interesting to me. It’s nice to see different sides of people. I agree that we all need to remember that everyone’s lives aren’t picture perfect even if it looks like it in a picture!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      Thanks Marie. I love the “real” posts too and really, all of us are real… we just sometimes might not want to share every aspect of our lives (and that should be okay)! Like I said, I feel reading and participating in social media with an open-heart AND an objective mind is so critical.

  • Topaz

    I struggle with this sometimes as I see it pop up more and more. Like you, I never want someone to think my life is beautiful because it is a perfect life, which it is far from. And I even have a post started for this topic. Or I may have even written about it somewhere over the years and forgotten I already have. lol But where I struggle with it all is that I choose to focus on what is beautiful and inspiring because that is what gets me through a day in a very difficult life that even in all of its awfulness is still pretty amazing. I write the way I live. I write the way I survive. I write the way I thrive. Sometimes, I write what I need to read, what I need someone to say to me, what I need to hear, or what I wish someone would have shared with me through my hardest days over the years. And you are right, I do not ever want anyone to think it is perfect or something it is not. But in order to thrive, I have to be intentional with my words and thoughts. This thinking has become contagious in my family, and I love seeing faith, positivity, and growth becoming our focus. I guess it comes down to thinking on the good things and believing good reports of faith.

    What a great post, Jennifer. Very thought provoking, and I loved reading it, especially what you said about us taking responsibility for what we choose to believe. I know that no matter how beautiful someone’s life is that they have seen hard times and that it is messy at times. We must realize this about everyone. They are choosing to thrive and to see the beauty.

    I just love you and your heart, Jennifer. xo

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      Awww, you are just too sweet Topaz.

      I hear what you’re saying. I try to be very optimistic… it makes a difference to how we feel everyday and our overall outlook on life! One of the reasons why I wrote this was because I “feel” for the bloggers who don’t share all their “real” stuff. Just because they don’t dish the “dirt” doesn’t mean they’re any less authentic. It should be okay that they choose not to share everything and we have a responsibility to not jump to conclusions about someone’s life based upon what we see. Less judgement and more open hearts and objective minds… that’s all.

      Thanks for visiting my friend. Your comments always make me feel warm inside.

  • Celeste @Leapfrog and Lipgloss

    Great post and I agree wholeheartedly. As refreshing as it is to see pics of the walls being broken down and blogger’s keeping it real, nobody should be shamed for making a perfect meal, having perfect hair, etc. Because as a blogger we ALL should know the effort that goes into our posts to be readable, viewable, beautiful. Lots of trial and error and lots and LOTS of photo-retakes!

  • Farrah

    Semi wake-up call semi-harsh reality. I love connecting with moms through their blogs because they do tend to post a more holistic picture of life than only scanning social media, but that includes all of the wonderful highs as well as sharing meaningful lows. I agree that it is my responsibility to not judge my life against someone else’s highlight reel. I am comfortable sharing my heart online, but I definitely still struggle with sharing less than perfect pictures of my own. I always admire those who do, and am working on doing it more. First step: cleaning out my phone so there’s space to take some new pics in the first place!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      I love all sorts of blogs. I don’t need someone to tell me all the intimate details of their life or post less than perfect pictures in order to view them as more real. We are all people and we should be able to share without judgement of being “less real”.

      I’m horrible with storing a zillion pictures on my phone too. It’s such a miserable task to clear them off but once it’s done, I always feel great.

      Thanks for sharing Farrah.

  • Thriller Mom

    Jennifer I LOVE this post! I am also happy that I got over believing the facades of everyone’s life being like the pics they post on social media. I found myself being depressed and questioning my own life until I “got real” with myself. That’s the beauty of social media in a sense. We can “create” the life we want to depict. And as you stated, it’s up to us to use discernment and be objective in our perceptions!

    Thanks for hosting such an awesome blog link-up!

  • Steph @MisplacedBrit

    Love this post! You had me laughing at your disclaimer :) …I definitely think you should make a badge of that one for us all to link with every now and again :)

    I choose to post about the crafts that work beautifully & the ones that turn into something else entirely :) The successes & the failures… For they are each as valuable experiences on the road to becomming a better mama :)

    I love your twist on the topic – that we are all ultimately responsible for the way we look at things
    …And we need reminding about that every now & again :)

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

      I’m delighted you enjoyed this post Steph. Yes, keeping it real is a responsibility of everyone involved… it shouldn’t fall just on the shoulders of the one sharing. A blogger or someone sharing on social media shouldn’t feel “guilty” about sharing their happiness, their highlights, or their joys. No one should feel pressured to share the rough parts of their lives – nor should they be judged by choosing not to share those things. I truly feel it’s the viewers’ responsibility to participate with an open heart and an objective mind.

      Maybe I should make the disclaimer a button people can use! :)