Instagram isn’t the whole story, but it’s still the story.


Social media has this uncanny way of being both inspiring and deflating.

So often I see the quote floating around saying “the problem with social media is that you are comparing your behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel”.  Or something like that.  And I get that.  Truly, I do.

I’ve sat in my messy living room, kids bickering in the yard, a sink full of dishes, and dirty carpet only to take a quiet minute to sit down, catch my breath, and scroll through perfectly appointed living rooms with fresh flowers, kitchens with marble counters and white cabinets…but just the right amount of rustic farmhouse charm!…with kids in ruffled aprons eating ice cream and it’s not even dripping down their arms and chins, and no one is freaking out that THEY’RE STICKY MAMA!  Filters and brightening and truckloads of gorgeous natural light, and SWEET ALMIGHTY HOW ON EARTH IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS SO GLORIOUSLY WHITE?!?!

I’ve even been known to see the “real life” Instagram of a fellow blogger where she shows her laundry pile, and I bitterly think:  “How is even her laundry aesthetically pleasing?!


But then I click over to my profile.  The one where I share photos of our day.  Our lives.  Our home.  Our hard.  And I scroll.  And scroll.  And scroll.  And I smile.  And eventually, if I scroll far enough, I let out a hearty belly laugh.  As one child shrieks in pain out back because they fell off the trampoline, another walks by with a stinky diaper, and my husband will be home in 20 minutes and I haven’t even THOUGHT about dinner.  In fact, did I brush my teeth today?  Pass over with my tongue….um, yes.  I think so.  Maybe.  Crap.  Set the phone down.


The truth is that I’m very purposeful in what I share on Instagram.  I filter, brighten, zoom, crop and adjust images.  I don’t share every moment, and most of the moments I share have a degree of magic to them.  In fact, when I scroll my feed, I can’t help but think: “Hot dang, I live a charmed life.”


And you know what?  SO DO YOU.

If you have access to running water and a roof over your head, and um, you know…a smart phone and wifi so that you can SCROLL INSTAGRAM TO BEGIN WITH…you have a really, really, really rad life.


Oh, I know.  It’s not perfect.  You have your own brand of Hard.  We all do.  I have a daughter with a severe seizure disorder and cerebral palsy.  My husband and I bicker.  My kids are naughty.  My house gets dirty.  I have extra weight hanging on for dear life around my middle.  In fact, our life is really really really hard some days.  Knock the wind out of you hard.  Some days.  But mostly?  I have to pinch myself to see if it’s really actually true.

I think that’s healthy.  And I think we should all have Pinch Yourself Moments.


I think about that comparison quote and wonder how it applies to my own feed.  I worry that people think I have a perfect life (I don’t), or that I have perfect kids (they aren’t), or days filled with ethereally easy days of childhood magic (they aren’t).  In fact, I stress over this sometimes.  Because I hate to think that people get the wrong idea of me from what I put out there.  But the truth is, I only put out there what I put out there.  So, what, exactly is that series of tiny square images saying?


Sometimes I peek at my feed and look at it as if it were a storyboard that movie folks use, and I think “what is the story being told here?”  I don’t want to be so nauseatingly happy it feels fake, but not so negative it feels yucky.  Balance.  Not just for you.  But for my kids too.  I don’t want to be accused of “that’s not really what our life was like, mom”.


I don’t live a perfect life.  Anymore than you do.  And I’m not manufacturing a life on social media to be deceitful, or to paint a picture that is untrue.  Because the truth is that every moment I share is actually from my life.  I don’t stage anything.  I don’t orchestrate events.  I don’t ask my kids to do certain things in certain ways to serve any kind of purpose.  At best, I coax a smile out of them, as mothers since the invention of the personal camera have done for decades.  “Honey, look up.  Smile for the camera!  Seriously.  Just smile.  One second and I’ll leave you alone.  For real?  I gave birth to you.  The least you can do for your poor old mother is to smile for the camera.  Now do it.  Or you’re grounded.  Now was that so hard?

Mostly, I whip my phone out of my back pocket and capture the moment just milliseconds before it vanishes forever.

I love that I can do that.  Not because I desire fake, but because I love that I noticed it at all.


Just because I post a photo of my husband and I happily eating ice cream (look close: smudged mascara), doesn’t mean we have a perfect marriage.  We fight.  Just like you and your husband do.  I get mad and cry.  He gets mad and yells.  But I’m not gonna post a photo of myself weeping in the corner of the closet and tag it #pissedatmyhusband because that would be weird and inappropriate, and frankly, I’m too busy bickering with him in that moment.  Besides, do you REALLY want to see that?  It’s implied.  Because Real Life.


When I post an idyllic photo of my girls at the beach, it’s a sweet moment captured.  I caught it and snuck a memory for posterity.  It doesn’t tell the story of how I huffed and puffed and almost died halfway across the sand while hauling my 6 year old with cerebral palsy piggy back and three armloads of beach bags, all the while dragging a boogie board and coaxing the two year old along the sand so hot your feet might blister soon.  Is that deceitful?  Am I purposely hiding the Ugly and the Hard?  No.  I’m literally huffing and puffing and convinced that I’m going to collapse and imagining tomorrow’s headlines in the local paper MOTHER OF FOUR DIES TRYING TO GIVE HER KIDS A SUMMER BEACH TRIP.

Real Life.


What I love about Instagram is that it allows me to quickly, simply, and aesthetically capture real moments from my real life that I would surely forget in the hustle and bustle of crazy.  Grocery store moments when your girl walks through the aisles for the first time in her life and exudes a joy that makes you grin so hard it hurts your cheeks.  It’s so easy to have a really crappy day and forget all the beauty hidden in the creases of the ugly.  When you’re bone tired at the end of a long day, you don’t seem to remember that silly moment at the kitchen table so many hours ago.  But with a quick snap, bend your knees, zoom in a bit, crop and filter…is that fake?  Some would say so.  But I don’t.  I call it You Live a Fantastic Life Filled With Hard And Filled With Beauty And Here’s The Proof.


I’m careful to share the hard stuff too.  I want to be real and true and join in community when our family needs it.  I’m intentional in how I share the Hard.  I want it to serve a purpose.  Not waste our suffering.  I want it to be encouraging and real and shed light on the reality of Different.  I crop and zoom and analyze the finished image.  Always with the thought “if she were 16 and looking at this photo with her friends would she feel embarrassed?  Violated?”  So I won’t ever post a video of a seizure.  It’s rare that you’ll even see her face during an emergency.  It’s too personal in that moment.  That isn’t fake or hiding truth…that’s respect for her dignity.  The line is vague and changes with time.  I’ll get it wrong sometimes.  Hopefully I get it right sometimes too.


I mostly share on social media for ME.  I need reminders of how glorious our life is, even when it feels like everything is falling apart around us.  I need to see how ridiculously gorgeous our days are, even when I call 911 and spend the night in hospitals.  I need to see sweetness between siblings on the days they are at each other’s throats and I’m about to lose my ever loving mind.  These aren’t Hollywood special effects and carefully crafted scripts on my phone…those little 3×3 photos are actually, truly, 100% from OUR LIFE.  And I need that pick me up sometimes on rain cloud days.



I share on social media for YOU.  Because it’s silly and funny and goofy, but also because I want other special needs mamas to see the beauty too.  Because I want all the mamas to see that we have naughty antics and tree climbing toddlers and Hard Stuff too.  But we also have flowers on the coffee table and silly grins and IT’S ALL JUST SO BEAUTIFUL IT HURTS.  Don’t forget to look.  It’s there if you just look.


And when I say “it’s” I’m not referring to my life.   But LIFE.  Mine, yours, ours.

Social media is the ultimate set of rose colored glasses.  It isn’t manufactured.  But it is selective.  It is authentic.  It isn’t the whole picture.  It is real.  It’s been artfully filtered.  But it’s still an actual moment.  A true reminder for me.  Maybe a little bit of solidarity for you.


Don’t feel guilty for sharing the slivers of beauty you happen upon in your day.  Share the Hard in a way that serves a purpose and with intention.  Don’t be boastful, but be thankful.  Don’t exaggerate the truth, but be honest.  Don’t feel bad about your own life after seeing the images from another, go see your own images again.  Take a minute to view your own feed.  Do it to bring a smile to your face and be reminded of your own version of Beauty.


Be honest in what those images you chose to share are saying.  You don’t have to be so dedicated to authentic that you overshare intimacy that belongs close to home, but remember too that sticky sweet can be nauseating in too big of doses.  Look at your own feed as if you were a follower.  What is the story you are telling?  Is it true?  Is it inspiring?  Does it serve a purpose?


Don’t stage moments…you don’t need to.  I promise.  They’re all there.  You just need to capture them.

And then maybe a Valencia filter.

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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Latest posts by jeannett (see all)


  1. 1
    Phyllis Comstock says:

    I just love love your blog. I look forward to it and when it hits my inbox I stop everything and read it,. Right.Then. My granddaughter has a similar disorder and although you posts of Jilly and the EMTs make me sad, it looks similar to my son and daughter-in-law’s daily struggles with their daughter Lily Kate and her seizures. Thank you for keeping it real with every post.

  2. 2
    Linda Oden says:

    Beautifully written, Jeannette. Thank you for letting us into your world and for sharing Jilly with me on Sunday mornings, which has been a blessing.

  3. 4

    Love you. Perfect last photo. Also, the LIFE “yours mine ours” such a great connection idea.

  4. 5

    That was the very best defense of Instagram/social media that I’ve ever read! It *is* about sharing/remembering our own stories…and our own moments of beauty in the chaos that is life! And I really like the idea of scrolling through my own feed to see what story I’m telling. Seriously…loved this whole post!! Thanks!

  5. 6

    Very good read. I’ve been following you for about a year and I love it. We r all in this together….ups and downs… I love my Instagram photos best tooo…so candid

  6. 7
    LoriTrow says:

    Beautifully said. Your shares bring smiles and tears and it brings back memories of when I raised my kids. Thanks.

  7. 8
    Misty (aka Sunshyniegirl) says:


  8. 9

    i love love love love this post. I also love that I am not the only one who forgets to brush her teeth. I personally like to scroll through my feed on the rough days and remember the good moments. Not the moments when the 6 year old randomly decided to bite her brother because she felt like it or when the potty training toddler just pooped in her underwear standing next to the potty for the 5th time.

  9. 10

    Gorgeous. All of it. A very needed encouragement! And the summer beach trip headline was the icing on the delicious cake!

  10. 12
    tiffany day says:

    totally get it! been there – thought it and feel it from time to time! the balance is the tricky part being honest but not braggey or a bummer – sharing the good and positive without being obnoxious.

    You said it well my friend!

    • 13

      The line between thankful and braggy is very very thin and I’m sure I’ve danced right over it several times. But hey, at least we’re trying, right?

      • 14
        tiffany day says:

        yes, we have to try – sharing who we are is important – being vulnerable is important! our life/story matters and I think sharing our real selves does so much more good than harm!

        the balance beam of life!!

  11. 15
    emily hope says:

    love this.

  12. 16
    Robbin Mote says:

    I get jealous at your Disneyland trips. I live here and haven’t gone yet except to deliver my grandson to his parents, who also go quite a bit. Other than that, peering into your life makes me feel a little part of it, cheering Jilly on, proud of Henry and Lucy in their efforts in school and just life, trying to keep tabs on #naughtyporkchop. Those who know you know these aren’t staged and they just show some special moments of your family life. Thanks for sharing.

  13. 17
    Leah Heffelfinger says:

    Amazing writing. One of your best! Please continue doing what you’re doing. I’ve been reading here for a long time – you should know that my favorite saying of all time comes from you – God is Good, Always, No Matter What…changed my whole perspective on life…literally…that BIG! Thanks for always being real!

  14. 18
    Amy Cornwell says:

    I so stinking love this post. You are so full of wisdom and truth. I especially love “I love that I can do that. Not because I desire fake, but because I love that I noticed it at all.” so beautiful. And I need your sweet girls hat in that last picture if you can share the source. It needs to be mine. :)

  15. 19
    Tameeka says:

    Yes!!! Thankyou for sharing. I have been thinking so much on this topic and your words perfectly surmise it. As well as bringing wisdom and perspective! gomamago

  16. 20

    Wish I’d written this. Or my version of it. But you said it so well!! Better than I would have. I love your blog and pics! I love you. So fun that you can love someone you’ve never met IRL. I pray for Jilly and your family when you have a request. My husband even knows who “Jilly” is now. Because. Prayer. I couldn’t say all this if you didn’t share. I feel exactly this way about social media! Exactly. So. Glad. You. Share. Glad I do too. ☺️

  17. 21

    You can post the most idyllic thing on Instagram, but your comments always always keep it real. You have a great knack for writing, and while you are gifted at putting words together, you are equally gifted at keeping it real. Love the pictures you post on Instagram, and love the comments.

  18. 22

    You said it perfectly. I mostly post the happy, the good. But like you said, it’s for ME. For me to look back on when I’m having a bad day, and see for myself, my life is one grand, blessed adventure. It’s perfect in all it’s imperfections. It may not be someone else’s perfect, but I’m glad I can call it mine. That’s why I downloaded the Timehop app. It reminds me of all kinds of good moments from years past that I most certainly wouldn’t remember today all by myself.
    I love your blog. It inspires me, and just makes me feel good.

  19. 23

    I love ur ig feed. And it never feels braggy to me. I can tell you love ur peeps and ur life. SUCH a good idea to scroll through your own feed on hard days. Love it. I laughed at the beach trek. Awesome.

  20. 24
    Stephanie says:

    I love your post, I love your truth. What you said resonated so much with me that you had me stopping to remember my every day love. Great pictures and great story.

  21. 25

    I love this.

  22. 26
    Holly @ Pink Lady says:

    I just love this post more than life…thank you…I have been an avid follower and find this post so true

  23. 27
    Candice says:

    Thank you Thank you thank you. I stumbled upon your post via clicks from an email from Hope Ink and now I have goose bumps. Beautiful story, beautiful family, beautiful life!

    My husband and I were just talking about this exact topic the other day. It ain’t all rainbows and unicorns, but it darn sure looks that way sometimes ;)


  24. 28

    Love this blog! I’m curious if you are still accepting guest posts in the “share your story” section?