I am Not Just a Food Artist.
Let me tell you a little secret.
Bento-mom, “Nikkimbento” (whoever she is) doesn’t know how to cook. Does that surprise you?
How does social media influence the way you portray your life?
I am so grateful for Instagram. This powerful vessel helped me pass breastfeeding boredom, burned holes through my wallet supporting local online start-ups, and has created an avenue to meet like-minded individuals.
What started as a passion for food-art, snow-balled into a sea of opportunities and opened doors to friendships I never imagined possible.
I waited 10 years to conceive my second child. A week after she turned 1, I became pregnant with my third. When child #3 arrived, I began feeling lost. Call it postpartum, but my mind was filled with brain farts and I began to forget who I was and what made me happy. How will I manage to split my body and mind into 3? I could not grasp the concept of mothering multiple children (I am still struggling). I needed an escape. So, to keep my brain functioning, I attempted a small business, started painting and exercised. Then eventually, I lost interest with each venture I started. I constantly felt distracted.
“Mom brain” is seriously a thing, and it was creeping up with me.
I decided to send my middle child to play school when she was a year and a half because a small (a humongous) part of me needed a break from an extra child in the house. To ease the mom guilt, I decided to pack her snacks in a bento-style box. I needed time away from my daughter, but I would spend the extra hour packing her snack (I know, weird)… Looking back, I realized that I needed to prove to myself that I was an okay mom, even if I kicked my child out for 2 hours a day.
I have always been quirky, perhaps that is why people see me as artistic and creative. Truthfully, I have never seen myself in this light. Growing up, I would paint, sculpt and complete little art projects but I never really took pride in them.
Moving on, I started researching for cute food art online. Gaaah! Everything was so pretty. Who doesn’t want to be the poster mom at school for sharing #momgoal packed lunches on Instagram? I almost became obsessed with this idea.
Just two months after making the bento box snacks, I was approached by Buzzfeed asking if I wanted my work to be featured in an article.
Yeah, no seriously, Buzzfeed!
Obviously I thought, this article was just going to include my photographs in a short-list of a hundred other food art Mums, right? Duh! But, the article was released the following Monday and it turned-out to be an entire article about me and my bento boxes. Maybe I was creative after all!
Here’s the link: The One Time You Won't Want to Eat Your Lunch by Buzzfeed
Since then, I have been asked by dozens of moms how I do it. And I think, “Do what?"
I live with household help to assist me with my three children but I still can barely tend to them individually. I could not believe I was feeding people the wrong idea that I had my shit together. Sharing curated photographs of packed-lunches was my own selfish outlet.
Admittedly, there were moments I would bask in the glory of being seen as #momgoals, but truth be told, there were days my kids wouldn’t even eat the food I slaved over. So much for being “Super Mom”!
I do not portray myself to be something I am not. If things don't swing right, I tend to cocoon, but I never put on a happy mask. With all the praise I was receiving, I realized that I was being counter productive. Funny, how a single photo will make people perceive you.
Food art is still one of the things I enjoy doing. I still get a high when I create a stellar bento box lunch. Not to brag, but I have definitely found my passion; my niche. Maybe it makes me feel like a better mom. However, It is not entirely who I am.
I hope to disconnect from what is expected and dig deeper into the picture perfect photographs we share on social media. I wish to find a community where we can share our transparent moments of being millennial women, parenthood and marriage.
Humor me, because I am not the trophy mom who slays her makeup and designer outfit when I do drop-off's at school. And if there are days you catch me made-up, I probably woke up 2 hours earlier and I will be asleep waaaaay before my kids are bathed for bed (this is when I'll leave a shout-out for my hubby who worked a 12 hour day. LOL).
In my photographs, you will not see the arguments and chaos we hide behind closed doors and you definitely will not see (the real) me, makeup-free, open-mouthed and drooling by 8 pm.
Hey, Instagram Moms! What do you think of this realisation? Do you ever look at a fellow parent and then question your own style? We all want our best foot forward, but wouldn’t it be comforting to see a little bit of their dark side?