We all love to hate her. She is disgustingly perfect. She blogs about her life and every post could be in a magazine. Her house is always clean and organized and her furnishings are gorgeous. She decorates with an amazing eye for detail and everything that she has she found at a great deal or made herself. Her closets are full of fashionable outfits and her bed is covered in hand embroidered pillows. Her kitchen looks like it could be the set for a cooking show and is always spotlessly clean.
Her children are always dressed in perfectly coordinated outfits, Little Miss’s hair things match the buttons on her blouse and the buckles on her shoes. The Little Man always has his hair combed and his face is never dirty (unless a dirty face fits into that days’ blog post, and then it is an adorable, controlled messy). Her homeschooling techniques are creative and fun. Her little ones could read at age three and knew the pythagorean theorem by their eighth year.
She makes everything from scratch out of the finest ingredients with an expert eye toward presentation and a balanced approach to nutrition. Her grain is freshly ground, her eggs came from her chicken coop out back, and she fetched her own milk from the cow in the pasture. Every meal she makes looks delicious and her children never complain that they want cereal instead of buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. Her organic garden produces so much food that she sells some of it after she takes catalog quality photos of shiny eggplant and long, flawless green beans.
On top of all of that, she somehow finds time to run a flourishing business out of her basement. She creates some wonderful, one-of-a-kind product that the masses are willing to pay lots of money for and yet she somehow keeps up with the demand.
Her husband is handsome and charming. She keeps him satisfied in every way and they are living a happily ever after.
And when she blogs about this utopia of hers, she makes it sound so easy. “All I did was lead this camel through the eye of this needle like so. Anyone could do it.”
Somehow this makes us feel small. Inadequate. Like loosers.
In retaliation there has been a surge of Imperfect Mommy Bloggers. These are the ladies who flash pictures of their messy houses and dirty kids proudly. “See,” they declare, “I’m far from perfect and that is okay!” They readily admit to being in their jammies at noon and yelling at their kids. They flaunt their imperfections to make us feel better. And it works. We love them. They make us feel like we are okay. So what if I didn’t get it all done today? Nobody is perfect.
Well, I am here today to tell you that I have a problem with the imperfect mommy bloggers and this is why.
Some nights I go to bed feeling great. The house is clean, the laundry done, the dishes washed. These are the days when I spent time with each kid, talking, reading, or playing. I was a firm and gentle disciplinarian and my patience was everlasting. Our schooling was fun and we all learned something new. The Man was given a reminder of the sexy lady that he married. I prepared and served three healthy meals. My day was full, productive, and beneficial for everyone.
Some nights I go to bed feeling guilty and inadequate. The house is a wreck. I yelled at the kids. I gave The Man the cold shoulder. I spent too much time on Facebook. I fed the kids some fast food crap.
Sure, it makes me feel better to soothe my conscience by comparing myself to other moms who fail. It strokes my ego and lets me know that I am not alone. But it does not inspire me to do better.
Now I know that it is not a competition. But admit it, we all do it. If my kids are bratty, I think, “At least they are not as bratty as So-and-so’s kids” and I become complacent in my parenting. When I visit someone else’s house and it is messy or the toilet is dirty or the windows look like they haven’t been washed in months, I think, “Wow! I am doing so much better than this gal!” And my poor housekeeping skills remain where they are.
But, when I see someone with well behaved, lovely kids, I am inspired to raise my own standards for parenting. When her homeschooling is better than mine, it inspires me to be more creative and to try harder with my own. When I visit someones clean, orderly home, my own standard gets raised a little bit and I am more inclined to wash my windows.
No, it is not a competition. And I am not trying to out-do any of my friends. But I want to surround myself with people who inspire me to be better, not coddle me in my failures. Don’t tell me it’s okay that I am the way I am, show me the greatness that I can become. I don’t want to barely get by. I want to strive for excellence.
So, I cannot resent those who seem to have it all together (which, by the way, we all know that they don’t). Rather I accept the challenge to do better in my own home and with my own kids and for my own husband. Because I can do better and I want to do better. I will be inspired by the success of others and I will forgive myself when I fail.
And I will encourage others to do the same.