“A few weekends ago my husband Tim and I took our twins on a little pre-birthday adventure. They’re turning 4 soon and sort of get lost in the everyday shuffle of their other four siblings. So Tim and I decided to spoil them with a little weekend away.
On the way home we decided to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. We just moved to Colorado in February so we want to explore a little bit every chance we get. Our GPS the whole time was basically like, ‘you guys don’t want to go that way, PLEASE go this other way!,’ but we didn’t listen. Of course we wanted to go this way! Sure, it added an extra half hour, but we were going to see a place many people dream to see.
When you first enter the park, it’s really serene. I mean, I felt like we were driving through our very own National Geographic documentary. The mountains are just breath taking! I instantly started thinking about the ‘pretty Instagram picture’ I’d get of the twins out of this.
But then, reality hit. We started to climb and climb and climb. The man at the gate told us we’d get to two miles above sea level. The higher we went, the more the air was definitely getting thinner and our stomachs were starting to churn. The lack of guardrails on the side of the roads weren’t helping. I mean, it went from road to cliff with absolutely nothing protecting you. It’s not like there was a shoulder on the road either. Your lane was protected by about one foot of gravel and then it drops off of a cliff. It felt like we were driving around mountains in some foreign country. I guess they just trust tourists enough to not make the mistake of turning their wheel 5 degrees in the wrong direction?
Very quickly into this route we realized why our GPS kept trying to redirect us the other way. But we were already here, so we were just going to power through this.
We were about 11,000 feet above sea level when we found a picturesque spot to stop and take pictures. The twins got out, excited to finally be out of their car seats for a minute. I got out with our 2-month-old baby and strapped him into the baby carrier. I felt like I couldn’t get my balance. I don’t know if it was the elevation or the fact that we just drove a few miles trying to keep our car from tumbling over the mountainside. But my stomach hurt and my whole body just felt so unsteady about the whole thing.
Throw in some twins who had a ton of energy and this fearful mom was just trying to make sure nobody makes a wrong move. Because again, there’s literally nothing protecting anyone from falling down the ridge. Clearly whoever runs this park figured that a barrier would ruin everyone’s picture or something. Or maybe that decision forces people to be smart. I just wanted to throw up. I honestly was sick to my stomach about the thought of my almost 4-year old’s tumbling over the cliff. Dramatic? Probably.
But we’ve got to get that picture! If we don’t get the picture, then it never happened! We have to prove we were here!
So there we stand while Tim snaps some pictures. I was shaking with anxiety. The wind starts to pick up. Our hair is blowing all over the place and I’m feeling less and less confident about doing this. But smile, everyone! Say cheese! Pretend this is really fun!
THEN my baby started getting pelted by the wind and he was gasping for air. My baby couldn’t breathe! This was my breaking point. I was DONE! I instantly regretted this whole thing and wanted to get off of these mountains and back in the comfort of my own home.
I’m pretty sure we RAN back to the car with the three of them. We both had panicky voices, rushing them back into the car when they just wanted to run around a little bit more. We tucked them back into their car seats with promises of getting lunch once we got back on level ground. Tim handed me my phone so I could see if any of the pictures worked out. I started flipping through them and I came across the exact moment you can see my terrified emotions on my face. It’s the moment I gave up on the Instagram-worthy photo, and real life took over.
Yup, there it was – a true life moment. Sure I wanted a really pretty picture. Sure I wanted to share a cute caption, explaining how beautiful our country is or something equally captivating in that regard. But this one Tim snapped is gold! This was a visual representation of how much I actually hated this experience. It’s the point in time where I couldn’t fake it anymore. It’s a true life Mamabear moment.
Tim encouraged me to post it and start a new movement – #truelifetuesday where we all post our really bad, non-Instagram-pretty photos that show what our real lives are actually like. We scroll and scroll every day to see these perfectly posed pictures when in reality, we all have a camera roll filled with ones that don’t make the cut.
Nobody has a perfect life, so let’s show the authentic side of things every once in a while instead of the polished lives we tend to portray from behind a screen. It makes us seem more human when we share things other people can connect with. Plus, I find the real-life pictures to be way funnier and relatable than ones that are staged.
This experience also made me realize how people (including myself!) can have the tendency to pretend that their lives are so awesome, when that’s not totally the case. A pretty picture on social media only tells one part of the story. A pretty picture on social media only paints one version.
If I posted the picture of the twins that I had in my head, you wouldn’t have known the back story. You wouldn’t have seen that we really didn’t enjoy this experience and that we couldn’t wait to get out of the park. You wouldn’t have seen a regular ‘ole mom scared to death for her kids’ lives. You wouldn’t have been able to relate and empathize with those feelings. You wouldn’t have seen the real-life moment – I would have packaged it in a different way.
So here’s to more true life occasions we can share at least once every week!
Rocky Mountain National Park, you were beautiful. But you were a little too sketchy for me and my tiny children.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Schultz of Tried and True Mama. You can follow her on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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