A Mom Influencer's Instagram vs. Reality Check: Year in Review & Lessons Learned
Magen Pastor shares the mom life behind her successful Instagram, exposing the lessons and takeaways of a tough and wonderful year.
Last year was one of the best and toughest years of my life. I moved states and didn't really tell anyone why, dealt with major family changes, all while maintaining this "perfect" image on my Instagram feed. I think it's so easy to get caught up in the Instagram wheel, but this year I'm pushing myself to take a hard look at how I portray my life.
This is a play by play of 2019, what you thought you saw on Instagram, versus reality and the lessons I learned after the fact.
Instagram Wheel - I announced my dream job I had for a few months, Mila has a dance recital, Maddie had a play same day two locations across town.
Reality - I didn't announce sooner because I wanted to really get my feet in, felt a little unsure, it was a tech start-up.
Lesson Learned - be more open when things happen, don’t hold back as much because the moments fade fast, trust your gut.
Instagram Wheel - My friend launched Whimsey World, it was my birthday, Laura bought me the most beautiful ring and a painting I was going to buy myself but then lost my job. Valentines day with the girls, my friends daughters 1st birthday, Maddie started working a few days at our friend's juice shop, she loves it.
Reality - I lost the dream job (tech startup and not anyone’s fault). I realized a good portion of my identity was wrapped up in work, positions of title, salary, I was the sole caretaker for my twins and myself, I didn't feel like celebrating my birthday, I deleted my Facebook for the day, Laura and I struggled but then did well, it felt like rock bottom.
Lesson Learned - if the universe didn’t kick start change for me i would have stayed and not grown, it wasn’t rock bottom
Instagram Wheel - Mom had an art show, I booked her a TV segment, my sister came into town and we went to her friend's band show, spring break in Denver
Reality - I bootstrapped and started a marketing consulting business. I didn’t announce it because there was already so much going on, I could barely catch up emotionally and mentally. Losing the job meant that we could make the decision to move, my lease was up in July and the girls were finishing elementary and going into middle school. We hired an educational consultant and found an all girls leadership school that fit both of the twins personality and started having that conversation with the girls and family. We didn’t tell friends yet since we were still very much in the thick of things, I was battling depression harder than ever and cocooned up. For the next few months I will oddly lose my voice when talking to people, I couldn't figure out how to form words, I stumble in group settings, so I don’t talk to people much or friends, and I barely go to events.
Lesson Learned - It’s never a good idea to cold turkey get off your meds no matter who you are, give yourself grace, things don’t get figured out fast and easy, I hurt a couple friends by not opening up and I felt alone.
Instagram Wheel - Easter with family, Mila had a dance performance, Maddie had a theater performance + a photography exhibit at Rice University.
Reality - we were about to fly to Denver for Easter and found out Laura’s sister had a seizure. We canceled our trip and Laura flew down to HOUSTON. We got the diagnosis, brain cancer, we had brain surgery (I say we lightly), Marla is the biggest fighter we know but we all felt the emotions the pain the uncertainty. Four days after surgery I get served papers, the twins dad was serving me to change the geographical restriction, the timing of this coincided with child support revision.
Lesson learned - it doesn’t matter how fluid you try to make things, sometimes there is a lesson there you have not yet learned that your future self wants you to. Accept that there are bigger forces than you at work, you are the sole care-taker, provider and mother you'll know what is best for you and your children.
Instagram Wheel - Surprise birthday for my mom, mom has two art shows + graduates from Glassell School of Art, Maddie has a performance, Mothers Day celebration at The Flower, Maddie presents her LGBT project + Mila presents her project on animal testing at school. We fly to Denver to make up from April trip, the twins graduate elementary school.
Reality - We were first referred to a male lawyer who failed me in ways I can’t even tell you, he said I didn’t deserve anything because I went through the AOG office when I was 21 and had no clue what I was doing, he said that if I just moved without telling their father I would have been fine, needless to say I fired him. I found a woman lawyer thanks to one of my friends, she fought for us and come June 2019, we got a somewhat fair deal. The restriction was dropped of course and mediation was mostly about child support and visitation.
Lesson Learned - never go through AOG office, never try and support the other parent in ways they don’t deserve, go for that full amount girl, hire a female lawyer, Laura is a wonderful partner and supported me emotionally, it would have been harder to go through that alone.
Instagram Wheel - The twins turned 11, we surprised the girls with a house in Houston, we worked all together to clean it up, 4th of July in Montell.
Reality - I have to move out of my town home, Laura has to move out of our downtown Denver condo, we have to find a new house in Denver and move but we couldn't because of the legal battle. We were in a crazy limbo, no place to really go but couldn't be there anymore. We couldn’t find a house to buy in Denver, so we bought an investment property in Houston. Found a place to rent in Denver in one day, signed and moved in the next day. We didn’t close fast enough on the Houston home to spend the summer in it so we move into my moms for two months.
Lesson Learned - the two months with my mom before we moved to Denver wre nice, we had so much fun cleaning up the Houston house with the kids and teaching them about investing . There was affirmation after affirmation that we were headed in the right direction. Like how the Denver landlords knew the founders of the girls school, how their brothers name is our dogs name and how my mom’s friend’s daughter is the counselor at the girls new school. Keep your eyes and heart open to these signs.
Instagram Wheel + Reality - we found our dream Denver home together, it’s beautiful, white, light, bright. Everyone has their own master bedroom and the girls start school, they thrive. Maddie started a LGBT+ ally group for middle-schoolers and over 50 kids show up, I score a marketing gig, Laura’s art is taking off, we are exploring our new home, girls are already making new friends and end up on the news.
Lesson Learned - self-care, self-care, self-care. I should have hired a therapist, life coach and wellness trainer. I needed a reboot but I wasn’t listening to the signs, I just kept trying to mask and move on.
Instagram Wheel - Maddie is one of the only 6th graders that makes it into Volleyball, Mila was voted class leader, we went to one of the oldest theme parks in Denver. Mom comes into town and we go to Crush walls mural fest.
Reality - We are starting to settle in, Maddie's earing got stuck in her ear, we had to go to a Dr's office to lance and pull it out. Being under one roof for the first time has its ups and downs, Maddie comes up with Friday family nights for us to air out anything blocking our happiness and to reset for an enjoyable weekend. I’m struggling, I’m not enjoying freelance marketing, but can’t tell if that’s the work, the specific gig, or depression. I’m the happiest I have ever been but depressed, I beat myself up a lot, until I realized I was going through PTSD from the past year, not just every month was something big and big and big and big but every week and I wasn’t properly healing.
Lesson Learned - GRACE! GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. I still wasn’t learning it, I still wasn’t learning from the past few months that the universe has got me and is trying to blow things up so that I can really put them back together intentionally with major life purpose and those things take time and patience.
Instagram Wheel - we travel to Santa Fe for Laura's day job, our best friend Christina who lives in Denver watched the girls for the weekend. Stetson hires me to blog/post about their Lamier Square pop-up. Accell lifestyle also had me do a post for them, Halloween in our neighborhood is pretty legit, we fly to Houston to model for a wedding shoot.
Reality - I try to figure out how I want to pivot my blog and influencer status for good. I sign up for every blogging course there is out there because times have changed since 2010 and get way too many emails and never read any of them. Trying to decide if I wanted to go back in hospitality, really focus on consulting or go full time into helping brand Laura's art.
Lesson Learned - have you ever heard that saying you have to blow things up to put them back together? Well, it's a real thing and it's really an amazing sight when it happens in your own life. It's one of the best things you'll never ask for.
Instagram Wheel - Laura's mom visits, we go to a pumpkin patch and cruise by the hotel that inspired The Haunting (her favorite movie). We played in one of the Visual Art Center's exhibits. I took Laura on a surprise date and hotel stay.
Reality - We signed up for a family membership at our rec center. I got on a scale for the first time in a decade and well I weigh more than I ever have at a cool 148 (I was used to weighing 125-128). Hello fucking 30's what is this, I try not to beat myself up too much. I’m finished with the marketing gig and starting to focus full time on Laura’s art because we are having great months, why focus on anything else? I build Laura a new website, start to create a brand, marketing + sales strategy and prepare for the December International show in Mexico. I also update my mom’s website , organize all of her credentials and create a linkedin page for her.
Lesson Learned - don’t hate marketing, I want to use my skills + passion to elevate my partner and my mom in the art industry, maybe this is finally my niche I can get behind 100%.
Instagram Wheel - Laura's art show in Mexico City, Laura's Denver Show, Laura's 35th Birthday, sent out Christmas cards, celebrated Christmas in Houston.
Reality -We have the art show in Mexico, it was a LOT of work leading up to it. Everything is uncharted, like working with your partner and navigating those ups and downs. We also had a Denver show at the same time, crazy right, ZERO shows and then all of a sudden TWO at one time! We have 22 friends and family members fly to Mexico City, we met a lot of incredible people and Laura is going back in May to paint a cow for the June Cow Parade. It's Laura's big 35th birthday, so I decided to get 30+ of her closest friends and family to send a happy birthday video so that I can compile it together to show her on her birthday. Mila helps me put the video together while I'm in Mexico and it was a tearful success.
Laura has her most successful month!! An affirmation to give my full support to the brand and really dive deeper into the art marketing industry. Christmas is rough this year, tension of trying to balance everything exploded when we found out Laura's sister had another seizure.
Lesson Learned - trust all the things you dive in and out of will circle to your purpose. My decade of experience started in the fashion industry then I pivoted to blogging which I turned into marketing in the hospitality and tech industry. It's all coming full circle to brand consulting, my blogging will be reinvented to align with my new life, topics of the lgbtq+ community and sustainability. The last lesson I learned from December is I'm in control this year, what happened last year is what I needed to re-piece this new and better life together. I need to set a work out schedule for my mental + physical health, I need structure so that I can encourage Laura to have more balance and that I love her unconditionally. Denver has been the best decision ever for our family and especially the girls, they are thriving in their new school and creating really wonderful relationships, their school is teaching them to have a strong voice and foundation, Maddie struggled with chronic stomach pain daily for a year, when we lived in Houston we went to 6 different Dr's who all said it was stress-related since we moved she doesn't complain of stomach pain anymore. Which has been the best gift of all.
Comment and let me know what you are leaving in 2019 and bringing into 2020?
I'm leaving behind feeling less than, not enough and or confused about where I'm going!!!
In 2020, I'm bringing clarity by investing in coaching, I'm bringing in mental health by joining a weight loss challenge at Fitwall. I'm bringing in balance and happiness by scheduling out family and individual date nights so everyone feels like they are getting quality time with each other.
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About the Contributor:
Magen Pastor is an experienced business marketing executive, passionate about connecting individuals together for a shared purpose. As she says, "I believe connecting is the ability to create a bridge of inspiration from one person to the next." Magen is an Lgbt+ mom to middle school-aged twin girls currently residing in both Denver and Houston.