Last week I was checking my Abbott and June emails (which I hardly ever do) and saw I had missed an email from a girl at some social media startup platform. The email said she had come across Abbott and June’s Instagram account, thought it looked like a great fit for their beta and was interested in jumping on the phone to talk about my goals and walking me through what they do. I was genuinely interested in learning a bit more and had been going back and forth with the idea of combining my two Instagram accounts, so I reached out to schedule a call with her.

The idea of being part of a beta and helping a start-up get the kinks ironed out was an interesting opportunity but when I got on the phone Friday it became apparent this was sales call. In a nutshell, they were trying to recruit me to sign up for their services, paying an astronomical amount to edit my Instagram posts and curate the presentation of my life. She showed me some examples of their work and a few of the accounts they managed. I could not believe my eyes. Entire Instagram accounts full of lies! She boasted about their abilities to change a regular countertop to a marble countertop. She boasted about their ability to realistically change the colors of objects within pictures. She boasted about their ability to take a cement building background and turn it into a field of poppies, showing me before and afters that had me puzzled. She boasted their ability to remove objects from a picture, showing me a before of a girl sitting by a pool with people and pool chairs in the background and an after of the same girl from the same photo sitting by an endless pool of crystal blue water stretching far beyond the photo. And it all looked so real!

Suddenly, Instagram felt like a sham. I mean, I love beautiful Instagram accounts, I’m a sucker just like the next but I love them because I was under the impression that they were real. I was under the impression these people lived these sunny, bright lives in their beautiful kitchens and their exclusively empty swimming pools. I was amazed by these moms with these accounts full of beautiful photos and these perfect kids both by their skills and their lives; I was under the impression that maybe one day I, too, could be put together. And you know what? Yeah, I could be “that” put together if I shelled out big bucks and LIED to everyone.

Is all of Instagram a lie?!

At the end of the presentation, the woman asked if I had any questions and I was speechless. We discussed my concerns. And at one point, she said “You make this sound so ominous – like, what could possibly go wrong? What would there be to regret?” UM, JESUS, MAYBE SPENDING $100 DOLLARS A MONTH FOR YOU TO HELP ME LIE TO THE WORLD ABOUT WHAT MY LIFE IS, ONLY TO HAVE PEOPLE GO TO MY BLOG AND REALIZE THERE’S NO WAY MY LIFE IS MARBLE COUNTERTOPS, SPOTLESS FLOORS AND FUCKING PALM TREES!?

And just like that it clicked. I’m a mom who writes and tells stories – I’m not an interior designer trying to start an independant business, I’m not a fashion designer trying to increase my brand awareness, I’m not selling any homemade goods. I am a mom who writes and tells stories and my Instagram account, as random and messy as it can be, should tell a true story. I should stray from the conformity of beautifully-clean bright whites, revel in the popularity of our community swimming pool, embrace my non-trendy countertops and my kids’ dirty faces, as well as their disgustingly worn and torn favorite pairs of jeans. I will never be “that” put-together Mom with “that” Instagram account. That’s not who I am; that’s not what my life looks like.

My Instagram will never be the most beautiful collection of crisp and curated photos, but someday it will serve as the most beautiful collection of memories and, for me, that’s what’s important – the remembering of the memories, not the numbers of the followers. And you know what? Sometimes all it takes is a glimpse into someone else’s reality to realize everyone’s reality is complicated and different and the best you can do is make sure you’re still in touch with your own.

Maybe someday my reality will be fancy things, pretty DIY crafts and adventurous days but right now it’s mostly just regulating my temper when I can’t find my kids’ shoes, cleaning up the same mess over and over and finding different ways to politely and calmly ask my kids to stop beating the shit out of each other.

Dream big, Megan. Dream big.