As a blogger, I spend a lot of time airbrushing my life to present it to the public. Sometimes this involves literally airbrushing photos to remove or reduce imperfections, but other times this fine tuning applies to the stories I present. I omit some of the trials and tribulations or skim over them as if they were minor. In part, I do this because I want you to come here to be inspired, so I don’t dwell on negative topics. But after reading about The Real O’Neals, a new sitcom about to air on ABC, I realized another reason is that I’m still trying to be Wondermom. I’m trying to sell an image that is a better version than the one behind the scenes.
The Real O’Neals is about a seemingly perfect family whose lives take an unexpected turn when surprising truths are revealed. Instead of ruining their family, the honesty triggers a new, messier chapter where everyone stops pretending to be perfect and actually starts being real.
Today I’m giving you a peek behind the curtain. Find out what this blogger’s life is REALLY like. Hopefully, like the Real O’Neals, we’ll both discover that life is richer when you embrace imperfection.
A Family Trained to Deceive
My husband and I didn’t set out to create a family of deception masters, but it happened anyway. As a military family, we all learned early on that other people have very specific expectations of us and we worked very hard to live up to them. Surrounded by a community committed to serving others, we all knew from the beginning that we had to project an image of strength. No one told us, but we realized that it is not okay for us to need help because we are supposed to be the ones who step in to help.
We might snicker about the couple at the airport sobbing tears over their weekend separation thinking to ourselves, “If they can barely survive a weekend apart, there’s no way they could make it through a one-year deployment.”
This bravado and snap judgment is our way of dealing with the stress and hardship of our lives – a little pat on the back to remind us how wonderful we are. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave space for us to have a nervous breakdown in the middle of a deployment where we cry uncontrollably, certain that we’re screwing up as parents and our children are going to end up as drug addicts or murderers. And since all of our other military family friends seem to be doing just fine, we work extra hard to hide any struggles we’re having. News flash – After a couple of margaritas, every military wife I’ve met has confessed to having these feelings. Even after the confessions though, we sober up and put back on our masks of resilience and continue the charade of managing military life easily.
That’s the example my husband and I set for our kids and my quick little learners mastered it right away. Where is this aptitude for learning when it comes to doing dishes, folding laundry, and scrubbing toilets???
The Misrepresentations in Blogging
The deception skills we inadvertently developed in our children come in handy for me as a blogger. No tantrums when I need to take 50 photos of them sitting at the dinner table to get the “right” one. No questions when I tell them to stop fighting and hug each other for my family bonding activity post.
Blogging breeds deception almost as much as military life does. For one, as social influencers, we’re expected to be experts (or at least really well informed) in our niche. Why would you take advice from someone who’s telling you how much they’re failing all the time?
Which of these moms would you rather take parenting advice from? This mom – who’s barely holding it together and whose child is clearly unhappy?
Or this mom who clearly has fashion and parenting mastered?
Would you rather read a post on raising happy children featuring this mom –
Or this one?
Another reason blogging involves deception is that we want to create a positive relationship with our audience. Most people read blogs because they need something. Whether it be a recipe, birthday party ideas, advice on what products to buy, or resources to find help for a personal problem – you’re looking for something and we want to be where you find it and we want you to keep coming back for more. Since it takes far more positives to outweigh a negative, in order to maintain a healthy balance in our reader/blogger relationship, I have to provide you with FIVE times more positive information than negative. Rather than keep track, it’s just easier to focus on the positive and avoid mentioning anything negative as much as possible.
My REAL Blogging Life
It’s too bad modeling for photos wasn’t part of our military life experience because it is almost impossible for me to get a photo with all of the kids looking at the camera with a normal expression on their faces and sitting still. So. Many. Blurry. Photos. I swear my nephew is related to the Flash since even though he appears to be sitting still, he’s just a blur in photos (that’s him in the bottom right of each of the photos below).
At this photo session, in which I was trying to capture how much FUN we have as a family, I finally
screamed kindly asked in a clear, firm voice my children to “STOP SCREWING AROUND AND TRY TO LOOK LIKE A HAPPY FAMILY!!!” Ironically, they were having tons of fun BEFORE my outburst, which did net me the coveted photo (finally) but also has resulted in the kids forever taunting me with their sarcastic parody of me – “We’re a happy family!”
While we’re on the topic of stellar mom moments, let’s not forget the time I made my kids re-do their bedroom mailboxes for my Family Mailbox post because I wasn’t happy with the originals. Or the (fun and easy!) Newspaper Basket I made with the help of almost everyone in the family that took several hours and lots of swearing under my breath.
The kids also like to call me out on putting words in their mouths. For the most part, I do try to honestly convey their opinions when I share them in a post. However, sometimes they don’t use all the words I want them to include so I add them. Have you tried to get a teenager to share his or her feelings with you? It’s either a one-word answer, dripping with sarcasm, or an emotional outburst completely unrelated to the topic. Conversely, sometimes they use way too many words so I have to pare it down to a single thought. I call this editing. They call it lying.
I also get accused of lying when I share ideas here that we don’t actually implement at home. For example, the Consequence Jar and Reward Jar, which I really do think are great parenting tools. We tried them (for a very limited time), but since my kids are older they just weren’t effective. I consider myself a resource for ideas. My kids say I’m a hypocrite. Actually, they’re too afraid to say that to my face, but I can read it in their expression when I give them this explanation.
One deception I don’t get family criticism for is my photo editing. I airbrush away acne, scars, a chocolate smear on the cheek I didn’t notice when I was taking the photo, or the crumb on the table I also didn’t notice. I’m not proficient enough to figure out how to make myself thinner or make myself more voluptuous so rest assured, that is exactly how average my body is in the rare instances you’ll see it on the blog. Here’s an example of my (limited) photo editing skills:
Be honest, which one would you rather eat?
I try to be honest when I post here. If I struggled with a craft, I tell you. If I had to go through 3 different versions of a recipe to get one that works, I usually share that too. So, pretty often you do get the “real” version of what’s happening. But in case you’re fooled by my smiling children and seemingly spotless home just know I edit all the unpleasantries out. I try a lot of things and the small fraction that are successful (or that I’m confident will be successful for other people), I share here on the blog. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see a lot of funny, relatable quotes and images that sum up my daily life which is full of the same personal, family, financial, and household problems you face.
More About The Real O’Neals
Want to see more “real” life? Make sure to tune in for the series premiere of the new comedy, The Real O’Neals. You can also find more details on The Real O’Neals website and by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
The Real O’Neals stars Martha Plimpton as Eileen, Jay R. Ferguson as Pat, Noah Galvin as Kenny, Matthew Shively as Jimmy, Bebe Wood as Shannon and Mary Hollis Inboden as Jodi.
The Real O’Neals is essentially a shared family journey of self-discovery and growth that results from Kenny shattering the family’s status quo with his moment of honesty. The journey will be a bumpy one, but will leave them better off than they were before. I’m looking forward to this unique perspective among the other funny primetime families I love.
New Episode Tuesday 8:30|7:30c.
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