I follow a few parents on Instagram who could be labeled as ‘alternative’ if you’re into labelling. I’m usually not one to compare my life to the glossy edited pictures people carefully curate and post, I know that’s the best bits of their lives and it’s not real every day, but of late I’ve found myself lusting after a certain lifestyle.

I picture my boys and myself living ‘away from it all’. We grow our own fruit and vegetables and happily spend our afternoons picking and cooking what we’ve grown. We spend our days splashing in rock pools and waterfalls and picnicking in forests. We read books under the stars with our flashlights and make fires. The boys play happily together while I sip my herbal tea and write. It all seems so peaceful, I would be so relaxed and happy.

The other day I took my boys to a theme park ‘farm’ with their granny who is visiting from overseas. We had fed the animals and seen some horses and the kids were quietly sitting under a tree eating their lunch. Across from us was another family having a picnic. The mother was dressed in a beautiful flowing floral skirt and boho top and had long natural hair. I thought to myself she looks so chilled. So peaceful. I bet this is one of the women behind those baby-wearing veggie growing forest adventuring feeds I long after. And then it happened…

Her eldest was playing in some sand and had started throwing rocks down a drain, my son had joined him. She told her son to stop and he ignored her and continued. I called my son back to me and she told her son to stop again. He continued. And then she was screaming ‘stop it I told you listen to me’ at the top of her lungs. “She obviously has a temper problem” granny commented. But I’m sure she doesn’t. I’m sure her kid has been defying her for most of his 4 years of life, as most kids do, and she had had enough. I think she was having one of ‘those’ dreaded days. I’m no one to judge, let the mom who has never lost her cool throw the first metaphorical stone. No really, please do. I would love to meet this saint of a woman and her angel children, I could learn a thing or two.

But for the rest of us mere mortals I realised something in that moment. I realised that even if our dinner is made from lovingly home grown organic veggies my kids will probably still refuse to eat it and throw it on the floor. I will still have to clean it up. Even if I have that beautiful hand-made mandala picnic rug my kids will still squish their lunch into it. Even if we spend our days exploring forests I will still be saying ‘stop’, just it will be to prevent them from falling down a cliff instead of off of a jungle gym. They will still argue, except it will be over the same stick instead of the same toy.

I’ll never stop trying to make things better for my kids, never stop striving for my funny kind of ideal. But the truth is the background in the picture might be pretty but kids remain kids. The scenery may change but mom-life is just the same. And even hippy moms lose their shit.