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Before all the photos of my family vacation pop up in your newsfeed, there’s something you should know.

You’re going to see lots of smiling faces, beautiful sunsets, a white sandy beach, and all kinds of family togetherness. You’re going to believe that we had a wonderful week filled with togetherness in a beautiful place—and we did. But you need to know that these pictures only show one part of our week.

What you won’t see in those photos is my kids fighting over who had to sit where in the car. You won’t see anyone arguing over who got to shower first when we got back from a day at the beach, or complaining about how much hot water was left. You won’t see that on our last full day my husband and son got into a big fight, I cried and declared I wasn’t going to the beach with them, and when we finally did make it the wind was so strong the sand stung our legs and everyone was kinda over it within an hour.

Nope, you won’t see any of that, because no one stops to take a photo of the messy parts.

No one shares the ugly bits. It’s all smiles, and tans, and beautiful scenery. That’s what we capture and it’s definitely what we share.

And it’s fine, except when we look at everyone else’s beautiful family vacation photos and think that is the whole picture.

We think their family is happier than ours.

Their kids get along better than ours.

Their days are sunnier, more adventurous, more fun, more exciting than ours.

And we let it steal our joy. We let ourselves believe the lies that our family is less than, our life is less than.

Because we are only seeing bits of everyone else’s life and comparing it to all of ours.

So you need to know, as you look at all of our lovely vacation photos, that we had a wonderful week in one of our favorite places in the world. But it wasn’t perfect. Because no one in my family is perfect.

We can be messy and selfish, short-tempered and ungrateful.

Going on vacation doesn’t change that, it just gives a chance to be messy, selfish, short-tempered, and ungrateful in a different location.

But those things also don’t take away from the fun, the laughter, the togetherness, and the love we shared.

Because we are both.

We are messy and lovely.

We are selfish and generous.
We are short-tempered and abundantly patient.
We are ungrateful and so thankful.

We are all of those things. We are real.

And there is so much beauty in the real.

This post originally appeared on Neither Height Nor Depth

 

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Jelise Ballon

Jelise is an educator, writer, and speaker. She is author of the book "Forgiven and Restored" and founder of the Renew and Restore Women's Retreat. But the two roles she is most passionate about are those of wife and mother. She has been married to her husband for 20 years and together they have three teenagers. You can read more at her blog: www.neitherheightnordepth.com, or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram

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