With the click of a mouse, a photo of our “perfect” little family standing in front of our “perfect” Christmas tree was online for all to see.
Molly, 6, and Zoe, 4, looked adorable in their coordinating dresses with their itty-bitty dimples flashing – heck, even Tucker was one dapper dog in his proper tuxedo.
Next, I posted a photo from our day out at The Nutcracker.
My darling daughters were perfectly poised in their seats, with their little hands folded, neatly, on their teeny-tiny laps.
Again, it appeared to be a Hallmark moment to anyone logged onto Facebook.
But that’s the onscreen version, where reality is cropped and filtered. What happened behind the lens of our holiday highlight reel is a whole other Christmas story – one filled with meltdowns, an unruly pup and a mild hangover.
After a late-night Christmas party with friends, my husband Jason and I were feeling about as green as our undecorated tree the next morning. We would have loved to sleep away the wine flu, but it was time to face a day of festive fun with our little ones.
Two Advils and two strong cups of coffee later, we were good to go. However, our two early risers had other plans.
“I’m not wearing this dress, I want Molly’s dress – she always gets to wear the prettier one,” declared Zoe, pointing an accusing finger at her big sis.
“She always gets whatever she wants, she’s not wearing it this time,” said Molly, running down the hall, glittery garment clutched tightly against her chest.
Time was ticking; being late wasn’t for the ballet wasn’t an option. After settling the issue of wardrobe, we arrived at our destination with just minutes to spare.
“I have to pee.”
“I want to go home NOW!”
I’m not sure who said what, but my head was spinning – the previous evening’s over indulgence probably didn’t help.
“Is this candy?” asked Zoe, fishing a tampon out of my purse and flailing it around for all to see.
Our tree trimming later that afternoon wasn’t exactly a Normal Rockwell moment either.
“Give that back!” screamed Molly, chasing our pup upstairs. He had “baby’s first Christmas” ornament clenched firmly it in his mouth.
“Tucker pooped in my room, AGAIN,” yelled Zoe, who joined the chase, crushing a Christmas ball in her path.
A few tantrums over who got to hang what and shoddy job of duct-taping our angel’s wings back on – yeah, thanks for that Tucker – and we were finally done.
“Let’s take a family photo in front of the tree,” I said, running to the mirror to put on some lipstick.
Daddy hates playing photographer – this day was no exception.
“Hurry up, football is on!” he said, impatiently checking his watch.
Two potty breaks, a change of tights and a dozen clicks later, we finally had our photo… well, kinda.
First, there was a little cropping to cut out the mess beside the tree that we failed to tidy beforehand. Oh, and let’s not forget the filters. Who needs cucumbers on their eyes or Botox when you can get rid of the bags and crows feet with just one little click?
Sometimes I feel like I live two lives – one online, one off.
If one were to show up at our doorstep unannounced, I’d probably turn off the lights and hide. Heaven forbid you catch a glimpse our messy kitchen, my wild hair and our unruly children.
The day of our tree trimming and ballet left me feeling defeated and drained, but you’d never know it if we were Facebook friends.
Later that night, I slumped onto the couch having a pity party for one – the sad fete wouldn’t last long. Two tiny dancers pirouetted down the stairs to drag me out of my festive funk.
“We had the best day mom,” said Zoe, doing a little spin.
“I love our family days,” chimed Molly.
Both of my girls were dancing while humming the theme tune from The Nutcracker. There was no indication that I failed to provide them with the “perfect” day of holiday fun.
As I watched them dance around the living room, I realized life is imperfectly perfect behind the scenes of our clan’s holiday highlight reel.
I was tempted to pull out my iPhone and capture the moment on video, but decided to keep that one for myself.