I had myself a meltdown the other day. You know how appealing a toddler's meltdown is? It's a hundred times less appealing on a grown woman. All I can say is, God bless my husband. How he puts up with these sorts of tantrums without flicking me square on the forehead I couldn't tell you.
My meltdown centered around the fact that I was feeling terribly inadequate. It was the end of my weekly two-day reprieve from little people. Elena is in school full-time, but Eli recently started going to the Toddler Program at the Montessori school. He's there two days from 8:30 until 3 p.m. You would think that you could accomplish a lot during that time. Well, my time was up for the week and I surveyed my progress and had my meltdown.
I can't do it all.
I'm doing too many things, and not doing any of them well.
My house isn't clean enough or decorated cutely enough.
I don't blog enough, and when I do it's not my best work.
I don't get any projects completed.
I should be working out more.
I don't spend enough quality time with the kids. I'm not a good mother.
This was the gist of what I rattled off to Mike. He listened, and listened some more. He had some suggestions for helping me manage my time more efficiently and for finding more(!) time in the week for me to focus on some projects. As he usually does, he talked me down from the ledge and made me feel better. He pointed out to me that for all the things I'd either like to do or feel like I should do, I would need an eight-day week. As I don't see that happening anytime soon, it got me thinking about why I feel this pull to be and do so many things while trying to raise small children.
Get ready to cringe a little. It hurts me to even type it:
I think blogging and reading so many blogs has an enormous impact on how I measure myself as a mother.
There's always been that arrow aimed at the media. How many times have you heard a women lament that she's no Martha Stewart? And while I've surely flipped through the pages of lifestyle magazines and pined for the beautiful food and beautiful, uncluttered homes, it's always seemed one step removed for me.
Those aren't real homes, lived in by real families. Anyone can stage their home for a day, especially when a professional photographer and prop stylist just happen to be on hand. No one really eats like that all the time.
But blogs are different. These are real people, living real lives and putting it all out there for us to see. The majority of blogs I read on a regular basis are mothers of young children like me. Some of these women I've had the great pleasure of meeting in real life, and they are amazing. And so when I log into Google Reader and start catching up on my reading, I see page after page of amazing meals. I see before and after pictures of fabulous remodels, or photos of newly redecorated rooms. I see gleeful children with freshly completed arts and crafts. I read tales of weight lost and exercises logged. I read amusing stories relayed by children that can only take place when a parent is fully in that moment with them, not juggling dirty dishes, ants on the floor, laundry piles, and thoughts of dinner at 4:45. And while I'm enjoying each and every post, marveling at the creativity and talent of all these very real people, I'm also making mental notes of all that I haven't accomplished. Then I start to get cranky and before you know it I'm having a meltdown.
I was ready to take a break from the blogosphere and my beloved blogs. I started to wonder if I should take a break from blogging myself. In the midst of all this thinking, life went on around me.
One particular evening we were finishing up dinner and the kids were enjoying their first popsicles of spring. They were in a jolly mood, and both of them were perched together in the same chair. It was just too stinkin' cute, so I ran to get the camera. As I'm taking pictures of them sharing their popsicles, I'm thinking about how great this would be on the blog. And then I start to really see the kids. And the background behind them.
They look like ragamuffins and wouldn't it be cuter if they were wearing something that matched each other? Do I have enough time to change their shirts? Good gravy, look at my kitchen. If I just shove those dishes out of the way, there, that's better. Is that container of spackle still sitting on the counter? Seriously? I hate it when the stove is in the background. It would look so much nicer if it was stainless.
And it hit me like a ton of bricks: my blog is guilty of the same thing.
I take pictures of cupcakes all the while I've shoved the dirty dishes off to the side. I've moved furniture to make a picture look better. I've purposefully thought out what the kids will wear before going to certain events so that they'll look cuter for pictures that might end up on the blog. I've written ten stories about how wonderful my husband is, without ever mentioning the times I've wanted to throw a sippy cup right between his eyeballs. I'll admit that I'm a bit more honest about the kids driving me batty, but even the majority of those days get glossed over in the "Aren't They Cuter Than Kittens and Lambs?" posts.
If I'm guilty of it, then what are the chances that some of my favorite bloggers have their hidden piles and unnamed shames as well? I'd take that bet to Vegas.
Is it wrong for us to highlight those things that are beautiful about our lives, while leaving the not-so-nice parts to hide out with the dust bunnies? I don't think so, for the most part. I like a mix of honesty and inspiration in a blog. I want to see your fabulousness, but every once in a while it's nice to hear about your giant fail. I read this at Her Bad Mother and wanted to personally drive up to Canada and give her a big ol' smooch. And yet I need a daily dose of this to keep me inspired.
A balance of each, both in my Reader and in my real life, and perhaps those meltdowns will be fewer and farther between. Also, an extra day in the week would be quite helpful.