I’m sure it comes as no surprise when I say that my life looks very little like the idyllic domestic landscapes portrayed on the pages of magazines like Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens. It’s more like Real Complicated. I find it challenging just getting full garbage bags into the bin where they belong outside of the house, never mind trying to create inspirational living spaces using reclaimed furniture and various sized mason jars.
I don’t have an office job. I only have one kid. I am healthy (knock on wood), educated and competent and yet I somehow can’t figure out how so many women live such elegantly simple lives in such well-maintained houses. Just for fun, let’s look at all the ways that I fall short as a domestic diva. I’ll use the typical features of a home magazine to juxtapose my inadequacies. This post shall be self-deprecation at its best!
Magazines love to tell me about hot stone massages, nail colors for spring and the latest eyelash treatments. My reality is more like throwing nail clippers in my jacket pocket and hoping I get a few seconds to cut them sometime this week, which will probably happen surreptitiously while watching Dylan on a playground somewhere. I mentioned over a month ago, the day after I got my hair cut, that it didn’t turn out right and I needed to get it fixed. That never happened; I just deal with getting annoyed every time I get out of the shower and have to do something with it. Not only have my eyebrows never been threaded, they’ve never been waxed or touched by a professional who knows what she’s doing. About twice a year I take out some old tweezers and make sure there aren’t any random brow hairs where they don’t belong. Real talk.
According to magazines, tables need centerpieces. Centerpieces can be as simple or as complicated as I want them to be. A nice bowl of seasonal fruit or even fresh flowers would be just fine. My reality looks more like this:
And speaking of fruit, I felt very magaziney recently when I brought home three pomegranates because they are at least 50% fancier than bananas, but for the life of me I can’t find enough free time to sit down and enjoy them! I like to eat poms seed by seed and that takes a good half hour or more and I can’t justify taking that much time to eat a piece of fruit, so they remain sitting in my “fruit bowl” losing their luster by the day. Guess what I do have time to eat? Bananas. And chocolate chips. Straight out of the bag.
Not only do I put literally no effort into home décor, I haven’t even managed to get screens installed in our windows and I set out to tackle that project last summer. I would love to have white curtains billowing in the breeze around here, but at this point I’ll just be happy to open the windows without letting in bugs.
Food and Wine
I “should” be making weekly meal plans and their corresponding grocery lists. I “should” be taking an afternoon each week to clip and organize coupons. I “should” be preparing simple yet nutritious home cooked meals using local and organic ingredients for my family. We “should” be sitting down together each night to share those meals. Ugh! These expectations stress me out more than anything else! My reality includes trying to feed a picky two-year old who lives off dinners like these:
And the closest he gets to a fresh vegetable is the occasional cheddar and broccoli soup from a chain restaurant. (He won’t touch the soup when I make it.)
I can’t tell you how many hand-stamped, custom notecard tutorials I’ve seen in home magazines! If I want to send someone a thank you card it goes out a month late on a card that comes from a value-pack I got from Wal-mart or, more likely, I end up just sending a text or email.
From what I can tell from magazines, I should have a well-edited closet filled with high-quality and interchangeable basics that I can dress up or down depending on my day and the events that I am attending. From what I can tell from my closet, I am a fashion failure. My closet is overflowing with clothes, two thirds of which I haven’t worn in two or three years, and most pieces are stuffed three to a hanger so I can’t even see what’s really in there anyway. Also, my dress-up clothes are only one degree fancier than my pajamas, and they are not event-specific. So there’s that.
By now you might be wondering where I’m going with all this. (Ha! you too?) Well, if you read this blog regularly you know that I am a self-described “mess” and that I usually choose to embrace it. You also know that I value my time with my husband and son more than my baseboards and cuticles. I think its like this: I know that I am not domestically inclined. I have accepted this. I even realize that I have some unique and special talents that make up for my inability to make headway in my living space. Even so, occasionally I read something on a blog or see something on the cover of a magazine that depicts a reality that I would like to have but can’t personally achieve and it gets me down. I imagine this happens to all of us one way or another, so I’m going to do what we all do when we start to doubt ourselves. That is, I’m going to remind myself of what really matters and why I choose to embrace my life, and all its messes, on an ongoing basis.
It all comes down to the small moments and being present as I raise my son, love my family and, as my grandfather used to say, enjoy my ride on the third rock from the sun!