In Defense of the Perfect Mommy Blogger

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.

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Mama is a What?

Season passes to the zoo are wonderful things. We can pick up some In-and-Out and then go watch the giraffes for an hour while The Fraggle pushes her stroller around in circles and into passers-by. Going to the zoo for an hour or two is much more doable than spending an entire day trudging around in the hot sun trying to see everything and get our moneys worth. As it was, two hours did me in and this old pregnant body reminded me of it for days. But we had fun, and that has been in short supply since the pregnancy began, so at least I went to bed that night feeling like a good mom for the first time in a few months. 

So, there we were, looking for a parking spot so that we could spend a couple hours at the zoo. I always drive right up to the entrance first, you know, because there might be a space waiting for me right by the gate. It happens. This time, however, it didn’t.

“I don’t know why I always do that,” I remarked to the kids. “I always think there will be a spot open this close. I guess I am just an optimist.”

After a brief pause, The Munchkin piped up from the back seat, “Mama! You’re not a octopus!”

And that is why everyone should have kids. They keep you smiling.

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My Day In Numbers, A Countdown

10

phrases that I repeat over and over and over and over and over. (That would be, in no particular order, “Please speak kindly to your sister”, “Just say ‘yes, Mama’ and obey”, “Put the baby down”, “Stop running down the stairs like that”, “Ahh! You just gave me a heart attack”, “No, we don’t flush (fill in the blank) down the toilet”, “Who didn’t flush the toilet?”, “Close the front door”, “I know you are hungry, but you just ate 10 minutes ago”, and (my personal favorite), “WHY?!?”)

9

moments that I wished that I was spinning, followed by getting out the wheel, spinning for 20 seconds, and then remembering why I wait till they go to bed to spin, putting the wheel away, dealing with whatever issue tore me away from spinning and gazing longingly at spinning wheel.

8

“Read it again, Mama!”s that I acquiesced to  before I finally said, “No, I read it enough times today”.

spills to clean up.

6

little people vying for my time, attention, and love.

5

school subjects to cover while I still have their time, attention, and love.

4

phone calls ignored.

3

meals planned, prepared, served, eaten, and cleaned up.

2

minutes to myself. Barely.

1

bedtime routine executed with all diligence and speed on my part, but not really on theirs…

0

times I regretted any of it.

Dearest Little T

Dearest Little T,

Two days before I went into the hospital to give birth to my little Fraggle, your sweet mama was giving birth to you. It was uncanny how similar our circumstances were – we both had high blood pressure and had to be induced, we each came through our trials with a beautiful baby girl to show for it.

Two baby girls and two mothers who were bedridden with high blood pressure. Two friends unable to help the other. Two lives beginning in more than a few frustrated tears. Your mother and I spent our pregnancy’s together with weekly knitting sessions and lots of dreaming about when our girls would come. It didn’t quite go down the way we thought at first, but here we are one year out, and I couldn’t be happier.

I have so enjoyed our weekly get togethers since you and The Fraggle were born. Watching the two of you grow and change so fast, watching you learn new things and explore the world around you, has been such a joy. Even some of the comparisons give me pleasure (you may be talking up a storm, but The Fraggle will walk first! HA!).

So, this year for your birthday, your first birthday, I wanted to make something special for you.

Go ahead, open it!

Okay, let me tell you about it. The shoes first.

When I showed your Mama the pattern for these shoes, I am almost sure that she swooned, so I knew you had to have a pair. Someday you may understand how much I love you when I say that these were crocheted (huge sacrifice on my part). I used some bits of Knit Picks cotton for the colored sections because I thought it would be sturdy and that you’d like the pink. The soles are made of jute twine so that you can wear them outside. (Ravelry project page here)

The shoes really are the main gift, but not so fun for you, right? I confess that I mostly made those for your mom. The doll is for you.

She is made of wool and muslin and cotton floss. She is stuffed with wool and potpurri that should help you sleep if you cozy up to her and breath in her sweet scent. But the best part is her hair. I know how you love hair, so I gave her a lot. Feel free to pull, tug, and frizz it up because she comes with a lifetime hair replacement guarantee. Whenever her hair gets pulled out or worn to wisps, just bring her by and I will needle felt a new wig for her lickety-split.

Oh, and the bag it was wrapped in should make a perfect purse for your little hands.

I am so excited about the years to come, My Dear. I hope that you and The Fraggle will become the best of friends as your mama and I grow closer as well. I also hope that someday the two of you will sit and knit with us (that would be so cool!).

Happy Birthday, Little T.

S.

My Hands Are Full… And So Is My Heart

She looked up at me with her beautiful, toothless smile, and my Princess said to me,

“I am a mama – see? Because my hands are so full!”

My hands are full, too, because I am a mama.

And so is my heart.

I hope you all had a lovely Mother’s Day yesterday. I know I sure did.

We Saw it At the Zoo

There we stood outside the giraffe pen at the zoo. It was a most excellent day with the warm sun and the cool breeze and the wonders of the animal kingdom all around. My sister and I had taken our kids for the day and we were having a grand time. The highlight for me was the baby giraffe.

(Photo taken from the zoo’s facebook page. I took my camera that day, but forgot to use it.)

Born just last month, this baby was an amazing thing to see, and we all leaned on railing to see her better.

So, there we were, oohing and ahhhing together, when I heard The Princess exclaim, “MAMA! Look!”

I looked down and saw that she was kneeling by the railing and had her eyes fixed on something on the ground. I knelt down to get a better look.

There, in the dirt, was a small snail.

“A snail!” she said in awe.

I picked it up and handed it to her. She excitedly turned to show her cousin and her sisters and brother, who all gathered around her to see and to shout out, “Can I hold it? I want to see it! Wow! That is soooo coooool!”

There we stood outside the giraffe pen at the zoo, gathered around a girl and her snail.

Sometimes parenting has some real weird moments. Sweet. But weird.

My House is Clean and Quiet

Here I sit in my clean living room, sipping coffee that I made in my clean kitchen. It is so quiet that I can hear myself breathing, and there is not an unfinished task nagging at me to get off the computer and get back to work. In fact, after I type this up, I am going to get some knitting done on The Boy’s sweater.

Something is terribly wrong, here. 

How did this happen? How did I possibly get everything done before noon? How is it that I have found time to sit down and enjoy a cup of guilt free coffee in silence and solitude?

Oh, that is right – the kids are all next door at Grandma’s.

I didn’t send them there, it just kind of happened. Thinking I had better take advantage of the moment, I started to clean and before I knew it everything was done! Floors mopped, dishes done – I even have a new batch of kombucha started and bread baking in the oven.

My Friends, today has been a miraculously productive day.

Too bad that any minute they will all come home and all will be back to normal before The Man gets to see it.

On the other hand, in this solitude I am contemplating what a blessing my houseful of noisy mess makers really is.

I would not trade my busy, loud, messy home for a clean, quiet, peaceful house….

…. but right now, I am enjoying it emmensely. Now, about that knitting….

Defining My Occupation

Just a stay-at-home-mom? I think not. Try these on for size:

Waste Management Engineer Specializing, but not limited to, infant secretion disposal.

Elementary School Educator Turning every experience into a learning experience.

Guidance Counselor and Self-Help Guru Guiding them to help themselves.

Nutritional Supervisor and Gourmet Chef My motto – “Eat it, it’s good for you”.

Professional Shopper and Budget Manager Working miracles with a checkbook, one grocery cart at a time.

First Response Emergency Personnel Administering medical care when required and liberally applying Mama’s Magic where needed (uh, that would be kissing boo-boos)

Incubator and Infant Sustaining System I am so crafty, I make babies! I also make milk. What is your superpower?

Barber Specializing in crisis management, turning “Mama, I cut my bangs!” into “There, that’s not too bad, is it?”

Entertainment Coordinator and Chauffeur Including precise age-appropriatteness calculation expertise and proper Automobile Infant Restraint System usage expert.

Your turn. Can you think of more?