‘Sham’ Of Perfecting Parenting Project Shows Chaotic Beauty Of Real Families

Do you ever feel like you might snap if you see one more Facebook photo of a “perfect family,” dressed in carefully coordinated outfits, with shiny hair and clean faces, the children smiling angelically with sunlight dappling through the trees? Those photos might make mantel-worthy holiday cards, but we all know that’s not what real family life looks like.

That’s why photographers and moms Erika Roa, Lacey Monroe and Natasha Kelly decided to turn their lenses toward the beautiful chaos in their homes to capture the unfiltered reality of raising children—with all its crying toddlers, cluttered kitchen tables and unmade beds. The women came up with the idea, which they turned into a project called Sham Of The Perfect, after taking the same online photography course. They were told their images had “distractions” and weren’t “clean enough.”

“If our images had to be tidy we’d never be able to shoot in our own homes, and if our homes were ever tidy enough to shoot in, then the images would seem completely dishonest years from now,” Roa told Huffington Post.

It turns out that real life is even more beautiful than the airbrushed version we’re so used to seeing on social media. Alongside the tantrums and the messes, the site’s 15 photographers manage to capture unbridled joy, imaginations at work and that unmistakable look of complete adoration on a mother’s face when she gazes at her child.

It’s good stuff. And if you’re a tired parent, sitting down for the first time at the end of another long day, these photos will definitely make you smile—and possibly bring a tear to your eye when you realize you’re not alone.

Sham of the Perfect/Facebook

Sham of the Perfect/Facebook

Sham of the Perfect/Facebook

It’s not only social media that bombards parents with images of unattainable standards. Advertising is another big culprit. Monroe told HuffPo:

Advertisements are designed to make us feel that we are lacking and that only by purchasing such and such an item will we be able to look youthful, thin, and beautiful, keep a spotless house with gorgeous enviable decor, cook gourmet farm to table meals, all while our children are happily engaged with activities that are enriching and education to insure that they are the top of their preschool class.

Sham of the Perfect/Facebook

Parenting is a tough gig, as Roa explained in the HuffPo article:

Parenting doesn’t come with a salary, sick days, holidays or benefits. The hours are non stop, literally, and frequently involve arguing with one small person about washing their hands while trying to soothe another small person who is distraught because a square peg won’t fit in a round hole.

Thanks to Sham of the Perfect’s pictures, we’re able to celebrate all of the square-pegged beauty of parenthood.