Best Of grow

Pictures Don’t Tell the Whole Story

It’s easy to follow a blog,
get caught up in the endless pictures,
and then start to feel bad.

Pictures of a perfectly clean home.
Of delicious, home cooked meals making their way to the family dinner table every night.
Of Mom’s dressed up in adorable colored skinny jeans with a J.Crew statement necklace and…gasp…high heels.
Of smiling, happy children playing together and crafting in an organized playroom.
Of families on afternoon strolls with picnics in the park and adorably clothed, smiling children.

Yep, all too often these are the pictures we swoon over on all the blogs we love to read so much. And there’s nothing wrong with us posting these pictures. Obviously, in a batch of 100 photos, we’re going to choose to post the best ones.

The problem becomes when we, as the reader, look at these photos and imagine in our minds that these pictures represent the whole story…when we convince ourselves that the life they lead is perfect, and our seems so flawed and broken in comparison.  Why can’t my house be as clean? Why aren’t my kids as happy?  Why don’t I ever have time to shower and do my hair?

And while I realize that deep down you know the reality,
I’m here, as a fellow blogger, to remind you again that:

Take these pictures of our “peaceful” family stroll to the lake at sunset, for example.

You’re kinda wishing you had joined us, aren’t you.
Don’t be fooled. 

Cute and casual family takes stroll to the lake.
Mom lounges on an adorable handmade quilt
while older son entertains himself in the sandbox,
and newborn baby coos with delight.
Dad is seen hanging out on the family boat in the background.
Brothers embrace lovingly.
There is even a bit of skipping down the path as the sun sets in the distance.

Family walks slowly and attempts to balance nearly 30 pounds of baby and kid gear on top of their mondo double stroller. Stroller nearly tips on more than one occasion.
Sand toys, diapers, drinks, snacks, blanket, soccer ball, shovel, etc.
Cleaning supplies (including a Swiffer) are also being lugged,
as Dad has grand intentions of scrubbing down the boat while Mom wrangles the kiddos.
Mom and Dad sweating upon arrival at the lake.
Toddler goes to play in the sand,
and ends up filling a bucket with what appears to be duck poop instead.
Drinks are spilled.
Bugs are eating kids alive.
Baby is not so sure about this whole laying-on-a-picnic-blanket idea.
Meanwhile, after 2 minutes, toddler decides he is bored in the sand,
and would rather spend his time “loving” baby brother.
Mom spends 15 minutes shielding and protecting baby brother
from being smothered by toddler who has duck poo on his hands.
Meanwhile, husband is mopping the bottom of the boat off in the distance,
oblivious to the chaos that is taking place.
Toddler kicks and screams when we tell him its time to go home.
Sun sets and Mom misses it.
Not at any point during this adventurous
lakeside visit did Mom sit on the quilt for more than 30 seconds.
And let’s not even talk about how this mom hasn’t washed her hair in 3 days (going on 4).
The end.

As I said, photos don’t tell the whole story.

But there is some truth that I feel these photos do capture.
Despite the chaos and the sweatiness,
they capture love and effort.

These pictures are my proof, that even though Ben and I know it can be hard,
and sometimes we wonder why bother,
we still make the effort to create these memories.

We’ve learned to accept the fact that these little adventures won’t usually turn out the way we imagine them in our minds.
There won’t be frolicking, and relaxing, and peaceful interactions.
It won’t be the way we see it in movies or on the cover of magazines.
But we do them anyway.
We have these adventures anyway.
Because we love making memories.
And we love our kids even more.

And even if all I remember about this sunset
was being repulsed by duck poop and
exhausted from lugging sand toys,
I know my boys will remember more.

They’ll remember parents who gave them adventures.
Parents who lugged sand toys so they could build castles.
Parents who made the effort,
even when they were tired…
and would have probably preferred to watch the sunset in peace…
or perhaps would have preferred to be watching an episode of Shark Tank
from the comfort of their own smushy couch while cuddling.
Just saying.

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  • Reply
    Salena Lee @ A Little Piece of Me
    October 14, 2012 at 6:29 am

    This is why I fell in love with your blog from the first time I visited. I love that you shared this because I needed to hear it. Thanks for reminding me that it’s the effort and the little moments in the huge mess of chaos that makes it worth it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Delightful Deets
    October 14, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Love this post Ashley! I’m a little envious because your hair looks amazing after not being washed for almost 4 days! I needed this tonight, so thank you for writing it! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Thanks for always sharing your secrets!! I’ve always loved how genuine you are. Great pictures of a great family outing by any standard. Happy weekend!

  • Reply
    Lauren Ashley
    October 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Every adventure my little man and I partake in usually ends SO similar! I cant imagine with two!! Ahh!! So true that the fantasy in our head will never be the reality, I am learning to accept and embrace it. Because your right, the kids won’t remember the sweaty mommy lugging 30 pounds of toys. And the shark tank part made me laugh 🙂 love that show!!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    This post is so great! Everything you said is true. We drool over houses (and other things) we see on blogs wishing ours could be like hers, but you’re right: that’s not always reality! 🙂

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I absolutely love this post! Once again, I think your honesty is so refreshing.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks so much for this post, I love looking at all the photos, but I do sometimes end up feeling bad ….This post made me smile : )

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Seriously. Thank you!! I don’t know why I constantly compare myself to the perfect pictures of mommy bloggers and the fabuless moms I see looking like they’ve got it all together why I feel like a hot mess. Having a toddler and a baby is so simultaneously mindblowingly exhausting and the best thing I’ve ever done. The fleeting moments each day when the kids hug or play together or spontaneously give me a wet sloppy kiss are what keeps me going. (And at the end of the day if I have a few gorgeous pics on my camera despite the chaos = bonus!) Love your blo, girl! Gotta grab the crayon outta baby girl’s mouth…

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Seriously. Thank you!! I don’t know why I constantly compare myself to the perfect pictures of mommy bloggers and the fabuless moms I see looking like they’ve got it all together why I feel like a hot mess. Having a toddler and a baby is so simultaneously mindblowingly exhausting and the best thing I’ve ever done. The fleeting moments each day when the kids hug or play together or spontaneously give me a wet sloppy kiss are what keeps me going. (And at the end of the day if I have a few gorgeous pics on my camera despite the chaos = bonus!) Love your blog, girl! Gotta grab the crayon outta baby girl’s mouth…

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you for being so honest and down to Earth. As a Mom who at one time had 4 kids 5 and under (twins) I always feel so frumpy. There are always good and bad mixed into every family activity! It really does get easier the older they get 🙂

  • Reply
    Leigh Anne
    October 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    This is why I love your blog & keep coming back! Thanks so much for sharing the good/bad & in between. It’s reality baby, but it is so worth it too 🙂

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    October 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I love how you put this. I definitely get caught up in the comparison trap, and yes, guilty of secret envy with your blog! 🙂 But I love how you describe how it’s a way for us to focus on those little snippets of happiness and a way for us to look for the beauty in those crazy, chaotic moments. So perfect. It helps us look for them too. Although, I really, really wish I looked that cute in a hat!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I love your way of writing and your beautiful, honest spirit. I can’t even remember how I found your blog, but I’m so thankful I did!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Oops, I think my comment disappeared. Just wanted to say that I love your writing and your beautiful, honest spirit. Blessings!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    It is so hard to not get caught up in this!! I loved this post and that you are totally real about it all! I love this quote that I always think of it when reading blogs..

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    You really do have a gift for connecting with people through your writing. Thanks for the inspiration to keep on making the effort to create memories for our kids. I’m confident that while these “not so perfect” moments will yield happy memories for our littles, I think also we, as parents, will look back when our children are grown and cherish these times as well. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Thank you again for your inspiration and encouragement for us young mommas–makes me feel a bit more like crazy is an okay place to be right now 🙂

  • Reply
    Ilene @ Much Love, illy
    October 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    love you and your writing and your honesty! i think people def needed to be reminded of that about blogs that it is not a picture of your entire life, only a sliver of it. thanks for this, friend!

    p.s. you guys are still one cute family either way!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Love this! I have often thought to myself, “what in the world am I doing wrong!?” when I read other mom blogs that make it seem exactly like you said – clean house, happy kids, home cooked meals, cute hair, lots of crafted things etc. Thanks so much for the reminder that it’s not the whole story!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Wow, I’m so glad you posted this. Every time I look at your pictures I think “I don’t even have kids! Why isn’t my apartment so clean and organized?” Good point about the special moments in between the chaos 🙂

  • Reply
    October 15, 2012 at 2:15 am

    I love coming here and checking in on your blog from time to time to see what piece of motherhood you write about. As moms, we can all relate with your honesty and candid views. I don’t care too much for the fluff, over-the-top clean, organized life I see on other blogs. They never seem real. Thank you Ashley for being so transparent and authentic in your posts. Our kids certainly make sure we are not perfect and I thank you for sharing what we don’t see 🙂

  • Reply
    October 15, 2012 at 2:17 am

    I know many have already said this, but I want to say it again. THIS is why I read your blog! You are not afraid to admit that you haven’t washed your hair in days and all the other imperfect details of family life. When I struggle being a mom and can’t even pretend to try to “have it all together” I find strength from your words. Thank you!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2012 at 2:35 am

    Just relived a moment almost just like yours. Where the photos show me lounging in the sun as the children play in the sand or boogie board in the waves as a tired toddler naps in the shade of the umbrella. Only what really happened does not appear in the photo. It is a faint memory that I carry in my heart. Let me just say that my sink is full of dishes, I spent the day in my pj’s something I don’t normally do and the children should be getting ready for bed but I am still sitting here on the computer hiding from one sweet quite moment reading blogs.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2012 at 3:24 am


  • Reply
    October 15, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Yeah, we have cute pics from the pumpkin patch. They don’t quite capture the moment my two year old ate a handful of dirt to the disgust of the teenage couple on a date. Or how my two month old had a poop explosion far, far, really far away from the diaper bag that we left in the car. Or the screaming. The photos can’t ever capture the noise. But the few minutes where everyone was happy and little boys were enchanted were totally worth it.

  • Reply
    Michelle Lubbers
    October 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Great post, so true. I am guilty of imagining perfection often. But, that is probably why I read the blogs I do. Somehow it makes me feel good to see the order and avoid the reality. I LOVE your blanket, so very lovely. Thanks for sharing, I may still assume your life is perfect so I hope my delusions are allowed since it makes me happy.

  • Reply
    Stephanie B
    October 15, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I’ve been visiting your blog for about a year now. No, maybe two years. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I can attest to the fact that it is indeed the effort you put forth in making memories for your kids. My kids are now 20 and 17. I once asked my oldest son if he had a good childhood. He told me, “Mom, I have a lot of happy memories.” When I was younger and trying to raise both of them on my own I didn’t think traditions were too important until a friend showed me otherwise. I’m glad you shared your efforts, because the way you remember it is definately not how your kids will remember it. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Well said. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Melissa M
    October 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you. I needed this today.

  • Reply
    School Sparks Renee
    October 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Your blogs always touch me! Thanks you for putting so much of yourself into each blog. Your boys are beautiful! Renee

  • Reply
    October 16, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Yup! Lol, you could have worded this post so differently and we’d never have known. Thanks for keeping it real, it helps when you have one of the cutest families ever! <3

  • Reply
    Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke
    October 16, 2012 at 4:16 am

    I just have to say that I ‘m lovin’ your poneytail/hat situation. As a blogger, I know those truths, but it is fun to hear the stories about them;)

  • Reply
    October 16, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Two words… THANK YOU!
    (You are awesome…just sayin’!)

  • Reply
    Kassi @ Truly Lovely
    October 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Gotta love that you keep it real! 🙂 beautiful photos regardless…

  • Reply
    October 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    ha, so true. Thanks for filling us in on all the details 😉

  • Reply
    xarlem creations
    October 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    i love your blog! i read it every time you post something but many times don’t write. Sorry…

    I love how much you love your life. You look so possitive!!!

    I like this photos a lot!! the lake, the houses… it is so different from my place, in northern spain.

    I wish I could go there!!

    keep on making us that happy!!

    (sorry for my English, I deffinitely need to improve it!! )

  • Reply
    October 17, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Fabulous post! Loved every word. I am also a momma who feels just like you, thank you for being you!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Mis mellizas nacieron cuando su hermana tenía 23 meses. Sin lugar a dudas pasas unos años “muy duros”, pero muy gratificantes. Y los primeros meses son difíciles
    En la actualidad las mellizas tienen 17 años, y la mayor 19 años.
    Con el paso del tiempo, los “malos” momentos, y el agobio los recuerdas con cariño y con una sonrisa en los labios.
    Tienes unos hijos preciosos.
    My twins (girls) born when her sister was 23 months. Undoubtedly spend a few tough years, but very gratifying. But the first few months are difficult
    Today the twins-girls are 17 years old, and her sister 19 years.
    Over time, the “bad” moments, and oppression remember with love and them with a smile.
    You have beautiful kids.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Love the quilt and your hat, where did you get them?

  • Reply
    November 1, 2013 at 3:53 am

    I love this post! I have a bazillion photos of my 2 kids. I started taking them when my daughter was born and I was completely overwhelmed. I look back at them whenever I am feeling like my head is going to pop off and they make me feel better. I think it is theraputic sometimes to look back at sweet photos of them without the activity and noise that goes with the real life experience of them!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I love this! I agree that our pictures don’t tell the whole story. I have several friends that talk negatively about the “happy” pictures people post of their families, homes, etc. and will even go to the extent of calling these pictures “fake”. While I understand what they are trying to say and I do understand how people can get caught up in the false reality of those few pictures being the whole story of a person… more importantly though I like how you said it, “But there is some truth that I feel these photos do capture.
    Despite the chaos and the sweatiness,
    they capture love and effort.”
    I know for me personally it is so important to capture the sweet moments of joy in my children and our daily grind. At the end of a momma’s day we can be discouraged or feel like nothing great happened or maybe even that we failed our kids. So I try to slow down and photograph as many happy moments as I can to look back on and to see all the joy. Those are the moments I want to remember and be thankful for.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
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