Here’s the thing you must ask whenever consuming social media: who is the audience for this? Because, trust me, there is always an audience. Each time we take a picture or write a status update and hit post, there is an intention. Now, you may say, “I want to share it with the world,” or “I want to share it with my friends.” But is that true? I mean really? And listen, I am not judging you. Not even a little. Because that is what publishing is about, and that is, in fact, what you are doing on social media: publishing little bits about yourself in such a way that the readers/viewers are basing an opinion of you and your life on those posts. This shouldn’t be news. “Well Miss Smartypants Judgey-Poo, who is your audience?” you ask. The answer is, if you are reading this – you. It is primarily, I think, women, probably moms, who are a bit rough around the edges, but still a little bit traditional. I’d say my tone is a little bit like if Martha Stewart and the Bloggess had a baby. That’s the tone I’m going for anyway.
This is a long explanation/primer on why, I am going to try, on a regular basis to post a little story about photos I post on Instagram called, (I mean you know what it’s called, it’s right up there in the title) Behind The ‘Gram. I think it’s self-explanatory, but what I will do is tell you the true story behind a pretty photo. That said, I’m not one of those bloggers that takes 900 photos and posts 1. I might take 4 and post 1, and I think that’s pretty evident from the quality of my feed…..
Here’s what I think that picture conveys: Oh, lovely/lucky/cool Maine mom takes her kids to the beach after school. What fun! Maine is beautiful! Nature! Family! You, know, stuff like that. Here’s the story of what was actually happened that day:
It was a gloriously warm September day. Teen had a friend over after school, and I thought it would be a fun treat to take them and Little Dude to the beach for awhile. I thought the three of them could entertain each other with some kite flying and running around while I sat in a chair and read a two-month old Vanity Fair that I hadn’t had time to so much as look at since it arrived.
I should have known this plan wouldn’t work out, because this plan NEVER works out. Especially when I take the kids to what we call ‘Big Beach’ which faces the Atlantic, and the surf can be a little gnarly, and there is, at times, a significant undertow. Sounds pretty great for little kids that can’t swim well, right? Usually, I take them to ‘Little Beach’ which is basically on the other side of the road, and faces a sheltered bay. No big waves. No undertow – however, when it’s high tide, there is no beach at Little Beach, as the water comes straight up to the road. On this day, it was high tide, and so we went to Big Beach. I told the kids they could wade but not swim, because I am an asshole. An asshole that not only tells her kids not to swim AT THE BEACH, but an asshole who thinks they will listen to her when they have NEVER done so in this scenario. I mean never – and one of my kids is 13, so you think I would be wise. (Narrator: She is not wise.)
We head to the beach, me carrying my chair, a bag of snacks and water, and all the other crap we take to the beach in anticipation of one hour of fun, the kids carrying nothing. When we get down there the surf is nuts. No one is the in the water. I forgot that there was a huge storm offshore that had kicked things a notch. Fantastic. I set our stuff down and the kids walk off to fly a kite together. SO PICTURESQUE. MY PLAN IS WORKING. I settle in with a delicious LaCroix, (grapefruit, obviously) and start reading my magazine. First thing that happens, can you guess? The two teenagers ditch the six-year-old. He doesn’t mind, but I have to make sure that he doesn’t get sucked out to sea while playing the ‘run at the waves and run away from them game’. Also, I’m trying to let him have more independence so I didn’t want to hover over him. This is difficult to do when there’s a possibility that he will get sucked out to sea.
Next, after some yelling, I make all of the kids come closer to where I am so I can at least pretend they are safer by reason of proximity to my chair. They decide to build a sandcastle. This quickly devolves into throwing sand. My teenager then decides to go jump in the ocean after I’ve told her not to approximately 400 times. She is quickly knocked down by the waves, and gets up and is knocked back down again. This is terrifying to me, and hilarious to her. If she’s in the water, her brother thinks he can get in the water, so, he runs for the ocean. No one has on any swimming gear. I have to run after him. Luckily, he doesn’t get in fully, but he’s standing in the water and laughing as it makes great sucking sounds as each wave rushes back out to sea. It is then that I hear, “HEY! HEY, LADY!” so, I turn around, and a man is valiantly trying to ward off a flock of seagulls that have descended upon my stuff.
It is at this point, after about 30 minutes at the beach, that I finally lose my shit and say my most often repeated phrase, “That’s it! We are going home!” Teen’s friend thinks I’m nuts, I’m sure. And all three kids slink over to the our stuff, which was now strewn in a heap, as the gulls had poked and tasted everything we brought, including my magazine. They made off with a nearly full bag of popcorn. Everyone was wet, pissed off, and hungry. As I made my way back to the car I turned around and snapped the photo you see above. At the time, it was, for me, a moment to try to have a bit of gratitude. Something like: well, at least it’s pretty here.
There you have it. Behind The ‘Gram: A Day At The Beach.