Get Off Instagram for a Second, Mama

It's midnight, and my eyes are tired. I've been writing all evening and my family is in bed and I really need to get some sleep.

Still, that familiar blue light beckons.

I remember I haven't checked Instagram all day, and I wonder what everyone is up to. By everyone, I mean the polished mamas with all-white farmhouse kitchens that I stalk on the daily just to see how the other half lives.

Sure enough, there are tons of new posts. One mama baked an apple tart by her apron-front sink with her two babies in bonnets. Another took her kids for an autumn stroll around the back field behind their house. One actually took a picture of a pineapple and photoshopped it to look like a dress on her daughter.

Here I am, in my dirty sweats with my dirty hair and headache and I suddenly feel even grosser.

I bet you've gone through something similar, mama.

I actually really love Instagram because it's beautiful. There's rarely too much political or personal drama. Instead, it's just tons of gorgeous photography and uplifting quotes and funny memes. I can get on there and scroll for 30 minutes and not look up.

Therein lies the problem. Because when I do look up, I don't love what I see quite as much. I notice the smudges on my kitchen cabinets more, and I wonder to myself why I don't think to do leaf etchings with my children or bake a shepherd's pie at two in the afternoon.

It's hard to remember that behind each staged photograph, there's a filter, and likely more than a little bit of stress. There might be children who don't want to pose, or an entire burnt pie that had to be created again to make that perfect shot we see on our screens.

Did you know that 4 in 5 women have low self-esteem? One main reason why? Social media.

Recent research reveals that 35% of women are worried about someone tagging them in an unflattering photo. Moreover, 27% worry about how they look in all pictures, and 22% of women link their self-worth to whether or not they got enough likes on their pictures.

What message does this send to our children? What message does this send to ourselves?

We're all trying to get through this crazy, messy, really hard thing called parenthood. We're doing it in business suits, in pajamas, in front of a computer or behind a camera. Of course, we want to show our best lives and put our best foot forward. But can we do it without making others feel less than in the process?

I don't think getting rid of Instagram is the answer. I think the shift lies in reimagining how we can use the platform. When did it become so expected that every picture is polished, using the best light and backdrop possible? When did we create hashtags like #livingmybestlife that make others feel like just maybe they're not living their best life?

Let's start a new movement, mamas. Let's take one day out of the week and ditch the filters. Let's not stage a single thing and just capture real life, then post it without hesitation. When we look back on these pictures in 20 years, I think we're going to cringe just a little at the fact that everything is the same shade of washed-out white and our kids don't look natural at all. I don't know about you, but the photographs I truly cherish -- the physical ones I see in my mama's old photo albums -- aren't fussy or perfect at all. They're real.

So let's keep scrolling and keep posting. Lord knows the world needs a little positivity these days. But let's do it intentionally and honestly, raising each other up and encouraging one another to be authentic in the process. Then, on those days you don't feel like posting, soak in those babies. Breathe them in deeply and look them square in the eyes and don't even think about grabbing your camera.

All the good stuff you've already captured forever in your heart, anyway.