#RealLifeWithSmallChildren. I started using this hashtag years ago to try to really capture what it was like to have small children. I did this because - I - felt isolated from my own reality attempting to look like I had it all together. We all see the glossy covers of adorableness that show us what parenting (supposedly) looks like from the outside. The perfect photo on facebook, IG, or the parenting articles.

In the midst of my postpartum haze (and what I now know was postpartum anxiety) from my second, another parent said they almost hated coming to my house because it made them feel awful about their own home. Like how did I manage to keep my house tidy with two small children and an active life and volunteer role? So... I opened my oven to reveal two days worth of dirty dishes I had stashed in there before they had arrived. I told them my closets upstairs were stuffed with boxes of random stuff I did not have the emotional, let alone physical, energy to process. That I just HOPED one day it would not feel so hard.

Because the bank floor is a good place to lay down.  [Image description: four year old white child with light brown hair laying face down in the middle of a star etched onto the floor of a bank]

Because the bank floor is a good place to lay down.
[Image description: four year old white child with light brown hair laying face down in the middle of a star etched onto the floor of a bank]

In that moment, I realized I had fallen into the hole of participating in the lies. My facebook was filled with perfectly placed photos of my kids doing awesome things. Don’t mind that I took literally twenty shots to get that ONE shot of them both looking perfect. Or exactly one second later they were pouring the water for the paint out to see it flow. For one second, I had a perfect moment. That is what parenting is. At least for me. Tiny moments that flow from one to another, some amazing, some hair-raising, some beautiful, some making me cry with tears of happiness AND anger in the same moment. That is my life. My house is often not tidy. The kids bedrooms and playroom regularly have half fallen forts, obstacle courses, Lego villages, or pieces of art laying around. I HATE doing dishes and laundry and unless I have a huge deadline for something else, I wait until the last possible moment in my day to deal with them. Because I am busy, living #reallifewithsmallchildren.

So, I started posting these pictures too. The inbetween photos. The not-at-all perfect family photo, the MESS that can happen when I dared to go to the bathroom. The countless hours of snuggling when I really should have been doing the dishes, or making dinner.I also tried to capture the beautiful moments. Not the staged ones, the ones that happen so suddenly you are overcome with emotion and don’t know how it is possible to love a human as much as you do this tiny one in this moment. You want to savor every second of it and stretch it out, but it is gone in the blink of an eye.

The saying is true - babies don’t keep, and I wanted to share it all. The hard, the funny, the perfect, because we deserve more. More than the glossy instagram-ready perfect photos. Real life with small children (and not so small children) is not like that. It brings me so much joy to see others posting with this hashtag, their good, their hard, their messy, their beautiful. It is a beautiful (and sometimes not) mess.

I love my life with my children. More than I ever could have imagined. It is so full, every day. Full of new, and wonder, and learning, and growing. BIG emotions, sleep deprivation, experiments, tiny treasures, frustrations. Coffee. So much coffee. This is my life with two creative, VERY active, smart, fast, small children. I am sharing it with you so maybe others don’t feel so alone in their parenting journeys. Maybe you are lucky and do actually have it all together. I am genuinely happy for you (and maybe a bit jealous! lol). But, if you don’t, know that in #reallifewithsmallchildren there is never a dull moment and every day is an adventure!