Friday, June 1, 2018

Behind The Curtain ~ Confessions of A Facebook-Friendly Family

This is me phoning in my blog post.

This is me too exhausted to want to think, write, or be anything but a lump on a warm sandy beach somewhere.

Life has been full in our family over the past few months and promises to be over [at least] the next few months. We've had plenty of pretty Facebook-post-worthy moments.

I'm all about truth in advertising, though. Our snazzy snapshots don't tell the whole story. 

I despise the disgusted, disappointed, deflated  feeling of self-loathing I experience when it looks and feels like other women are so much more successful at motherhood and life than I could ever be - like they were privy to some magical advice that made it all easy for them. Advice I never happened to catch.

Maybe there are women out there like that - women who have it all, who do it all and get it all done without breaking a sweat, chipping a nail, or messing up their perfectly-applied makeup. Maybe I just tell myself they're no more real than an argument over the kids helping out too much with the housework, so I won't feel so bad when it appears I don't measure up.

I just want everyone out there to know that I am NOT one of those women. We are NOT one of those families.

That being said, this is NOT a whine or complaint. I'm insanely happy with my life. It could always be better and there are rough days, but - compared to life I wrote about in With Angel's Wings? This is the DREAM life. This is a super-easy, gravy train, all rainbows and cotton candy life.

But even the best lives are not picture-perfect. Here's the truth behind our most recent pretty pictures.

April first was the big day when Ellie's first book was published. After seeing a post about it someone said, "I'm guessing she's a straight-A student, right?" Nope. She's not a bad student (A's, B's, occasional C's), but she has had to do some adjusting to the transition from elementary to middle school. When her book launched she had a D- in Science and an F in Language Arts. LANGUAGE ARTS! She wasn't just failing a little bit, either. Oh no. This was epic failure with flair.

We're currently at that time of year where it's all about the scramble for spare points...


This memory came up on my Facebook feed not too long ago. It gifted me with many fond memories...and a tsunami of self-image doubt and shame over just how much I've aged and put on weight in the 7 years since the pretty picture in the post was snapped. Ah, weight. I've grown so very weary of that never-ending battle. I wish when I got most depressed about it my first instinct wasn't to devour a full can of whipped cream in the car on the way home from the store...hoping the people in passing cars are not feeling particularly judgmental...hypothetically speaking, of course...

Okay. I know we all have these. "Chuckle posts" that have you crying inside? Haha...nobody else in the house seems to know how to pick up after him/herself. Haha...[Cry as I look around a trashed house on a daily basis, feeling completely overwhelmed by the task of tackling it...and growing increasingly inclined to just learn to live in the clutter and filth, because, seriously, why bother?]

The past 60 days have also featured two successful state gymnastics meets, followed by two successful regional meets. All good, right? How could it be anything but?

Unfortunately, while things were going so well with her physical strength, she was struggling with her mental health. We've fought her anxiety and depression for months.

She increased her all-time best all-around score by nearly a full point at the regional gymnastics meet - after having increased it by nearly a full point at the state meet. She was awarded a bronze medal for trampoline at the Regional Trampoline and Tumbling Championships. But just after the awards ceremony she cried as she explained, "I KNOW I should be happy about this. This is something to really feel proud and happy about. Just like it should have been after the gymnastics meet. But...I just can't find my happy anywhere. All that's in my head is sadness. Then I get angry, because there's NO REASON for it!!! I just want to find my happy again."

After comments like that escalated to comments like, "Maybe everyone would be better off if I wasn't here anymore," we realized that all the behavioral techniques we were attempting were just not enough. We've since adjusted her medication (with success so far).

Anxiety and depression are hereditary illnesses. And they're chronic illnesses. My battles with them were well documented in With Angel's Wings. They haven't gone away for me - no matter how much they may be hidden from my Facebook posts, and they are plaguing my kids, as well. Just this week we had to give James Xanax so he could tolerate having his braces put on (without passing out, as he did the last time he went to the doctor's office...when they tried to take his blood pressure).

Once again, I promise to write a post sometime soon that will focus more on the effects and realities of life with [a whole household of] anxiety and depression. Right now, though, I'm too in the thoes of it to find the energy to explain further. My only goal today is to prevent anyone from looking at anything I post and think, "Wow. That family has it ALL together." Because we don't. Nobody does. Everybody has their own, personal chaos hidden behind the curtains.


  1. Nice post, Stephanie! I can relate to the daily challenges very well. It's interesting how social media posts can paint a totally different image of how we are actually doing—the "happy face" even when skies are gray or we are in the midst of a raging thunderstorm.

    Take care and know that I continue to wish you and Ellie much success with the books. Cyber-hugs to both of you and your family!

    May God's blessings be upon all of you.

    1. Thank you so much, Tom, for taking the time to read my post and for sharing your kind thoughts, well wishes and cyber hugs. Wouldn't it be interesting if every social media "brag post" included a post script of truth. "So proud of my son Harry for his near perfect SAT scores that landed him an acceptance letter into MIT! [He still hasn't mastered the art of picking his socks up off the floor and putting them in the dirty laundry, much less wash them, himself, but...yay! Go Harry!]" :) Thanks again, take care and have yourself a wonderful weekend! ~Stephanie

  2. Great writing, stating life as it is for many of us. Hang in there Stephanie and know that those who have read your book, are over-awed by your ability to be strong when you need to be and that includes the times when you feel least strong. It is a gift to be able to acknowledge our doubts, our sadness and offer our honest truths, then to share them with others. Wishing you, Ellie and all your family, the blessings of the Universe. Thank you for your honesty.

    1. Thanks so much, Joy, for taking the time to read my post and for your kind and uplifting comments! Honesty is always best. If I run around like a mad woman 20 minutes before my guest is due to arrive, I make sure I have a good laugh with them about how crazy I must have looked and sounded. While I love to present a neat and tidy house when I can, I'd hate for anyone to feel inadequate if they ALSO don't live in a nirvana of constant clutter-free existence. :) Thanks again, take care and have yourself a wonderful week! :) ~Stephanie

  3. Chin up, friend. You are enough and you are doing great. Thanks for sharing and blessings to you and your family, MG.

    1. Thanks so much, once again, MG, for taking the time to read my post and for sharing your supportive words! Take care and have yourself a wonderful weekend! :) ~Stephanie

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  4. Stephanie, I hope the time since you wrote this post has been one of ups rather than downs. I don’t face your immense challenges, but yes, we all have our own and life is not a Facebook page. But, you have been so strong for so long. You are allowed to have down times! Sending you the only thing I can xxx

    1. Thank you so much; that's the BEST thing of all to receive! And yes; I'm feeling and the family is doing quite well right now, so I'm feeling rather thankful. The down times help us to appreciate the up times all the more, right? Thanks again, hugs back to you, and enjoy the rest of your weekend! :) ~Stephanie