Reality vs My Reality

I know everyone has expectations in anticipation of each season. That's honestly half the source of excitement over them. The anticipation. The goals. The nostalgia. The imagery. The feels.
The reality.
The lies.

Each season I tell myself that I'll make it all happen this time. I'll plan ahead, save money and make my kids love every second of it.
Each season I'm still not ready for the previous season to end. I still have expectations to fulfill. I still have photos to take. I still have activities to check off my impossible list.
Each season I find myself hating each season.

Want to hear/read some truth? 
The last time I was actually at a real pumpkin patch, I was probably 6 years old.
I was with my parents, my little brother, my grandparents and my cousin. We rode on a train, drank hot apple cider and posed next to massive pumpkins and everything. The whole, picture perfect shebang.
Literally TWO DECADES later, I have yet to set foot on ANY pumpkin patch, farm or yard. Know where I get my pumpkins? Walmart.

It's not like I hated them. It's not like I was avoiding the whole thing. I just never felt the need to do it again. Until I had kids, that is.

Now, I can't open instagram or pinterest without cute photos of model families and their adorable spawn holding pumpkins and selling the fake scenario that the whole photo op was spontaneous and not forced in the slightest.
Oops, is my jealousy showing?

[This is all I really accomplished so far. Bought ONE tiny mum, too many skulls and other tacky Halloween decor. We still haven't carved or painted pumpkins.]

Sure, social media is part of the reason for disappointment and discontentment, but what did we have before that? No pressure? No false reality? More time/energy/money?
Nope. We had magazines. We had TV commercials. We had TV shows, movies, friends, family and most of all, our own expectations. It hasn't gotten harder, it's just changed hands.

The bottom line is this.
The only one who cares whether you went to a corn maze, drank a pumpkin spice latte every morning, baked your own apple pie from orchard picked apples, carved a thousand pumpkins, stacked your front steps with every color mum in existence, survived a haunted park, and sewed your own Halloween costume from scratch or not....
is you.

Sure, your family and close friends probably love seeing pictures of you and your family. Sure, it's always wonderful to capture happy loving memories in photos to show your kids when they get older. Sure, the pressure to buy, and do, and make and LIVE is so very real and it comes from every side.
But take it from someone who has to learn this lesson EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
You will NOT get fined for not participating in everything everyone else is participating in.
This is NOT a competition. There is NO winner except you every time you are present for your kids and for yourself. You are NOT missing out on anything. I promise.
You are not a procrastinating, lazy, poor planning loser if you don't have pictures to share of your kids carving pumpkins. You don't even have to force yourself to LIKE Autumn, if it's not your favorite season. Even if it is, you're not going to lose favor with the four season Gods if you only manage to buy a grocery store pumpkin and costume set from Amazon. 

Maybe this post is just me giving myself a pep talk. It seems oddly specific, doesn't it?
All I know is Autumn is one of the most over saturated, disappointing times of the year, and even though it's still one of my favorite seasons, I hate the unrealistic expectations and pressure I put on myself and my family to somehow show how well coordinated and on trend we are. I hate the resentment I initially feel when I scroll past photos of people doing what I wish I was doing. It's so shallow and silly and fleeting and I KNOW IT.

We actually tried twice this year to do the whole "family day at the pumpkin patch" and BOTH times failed miserably. The second attempt was when I decided it's overrated and my kids don't care about any of it anyway. They just like spending time with us. They like going on ANY adventure with us, whether it's to a renaissance fair or the grocery store. They aren't keeping a tally of all the childhood "must haves" we accomplish. They're just rolling with it, just like they always have.

So drink your pumpkin ale or don't.
As long as you're present, you'll make good memories. Besides,

 Oh, and the families in those perfect photos? They are NOT perfect either.

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