I landed upon a new blog one morning this past week and it put me in a deep, dark, dank, foul mood. The mother/blogger had a skinny waist, smooth skin, and seven kids. She dressed like she worked on a New York runway. She was gifted with a camera. She hammed up life in ways that I don't even dare to dream of. For example, to celebrate Easter, she created a backyard fairyland complete with a white-gauzy Sukkot tent (yes, wrong analogy), a table spread with linens and giant bouquets of flowers, real chairs, and glass platters of iced goodies, candies, and the like. Her kids were magazine-worthy in their pastels, sundresses, be-ribboned hair, and chubby pink bare feet. Clean bare feet. Everyone was flashing smiles right and left.
As I scrolled through her blog, I got grumpier and grumpier. Everything was peaches and cream to the nth degree, and the deluge of God-talk didn't help matters. I felt like I was suffocating.
(Let me say here, the woman may be a real dear. I don't know her, and I wish her nothing but the best. These musing just come about as a result of my quick observations, some slap-dash judgment passing, and the resulting emotions and personal insecurities. Forgive me.)
That night I ranted to Mr. Handsome about the blog. He looked at me, bemused, and said, "If you don't like it, why are you reading it?"
He was missing the point entirely, and I told him so.
It took a lot of thinking and some conversations with some people other than Mr. Handsome before I figured out what was bothering me. It wasn't that I envied the women (well, except for her stunning figure). I certainly have no desire to make gauzy tents in my backyard or to dress up my kids for photo shoots. Shoot, half the time my kids look like they just came out of the bush, dirty, stinky, and with burrs in their hair. (And sometimes it's even worse than that. When I got back from town the other morning, Yo-Yo was sitting on the porch in a clown suit, a blue wig atop his head and a red clown nose strapped to his face. Miss Beccaboo was wearing a conglomeration of things, including an old lady's blue zip-up bathrobe, a sequined red skirt with black poodles on it, a see-through cape, a scarf, and a sunbonnet. She had stuffed her underwear so that she was fat, in an inner tube sort of way. It was a sight to behold.)
No, the thing about the blog that rankled me was this: presenting life as though it consists of just sundresses and cherubic children is dishonest. Life holds both beauty and pain. To talk only of the one part cheapens the whole.
Not to mention that it puts thirty-four year old women who have to comb through their children's hair on a daily basis to ensure all the lice are gone in a very bad mood indeed. (Excuse the bad sentence structure. I'm not going to nitpick it.) (And yes, the lice are gone.)
Plus, I have some serious issues with employing God-talk to condone peaches-n-cream stories.
The next morning I discovered another blog. This mother/writer was nearly killed in a plane crash two years ago. She survived, but her face is horribly deformed from the burns, and she's still undergoing surgeries. She has four lively children, a lived-in house, a caring husband, and a new perspective on life. She grieves the loss of her old self, but she's ever so thankful she's alive, able to press her disfigured lips against her babies' soft, perfect skin.
This blog did not rankle. I was challenged, saddened, grateful, and inspired. I stood up from the computer and viewed my own home, a home filled with clown suits, burrs, arguments and head lice, with new eyes. My life is rich, no white gauze necessary.
I don't blog everything about my life, to be sure, but I try to be candid. When I first started this blog, I felt like a con artist. I was only writing about bits and pieces of my life. If I talked about packing Mr. Handsome's lunch, then I worried that you would think I always pack his lunch and that I'm much nicer than I really am. If I talked about my kids cheerfully doing their chores, then I worried that you might think they always did their chores like so. But as I built my blogging history, I became more dimensional. I didn't worry so much about pulling the wool over your eyes. I was more or less (hopefully more) showing you who I am, warts and all.
Not everyone is inclined to splat as freely as I do, and some people splat even more. Honesty takes many forms, but the bottom line? A sugar-coated life (either blogged about or not) is not at all nourishing.
Still, I have a long way to go.
Just the other day I stopped at my friend Kris's house to pick up something and she came over to the car to say hi to the kids. She and I started talking about movies, and I mentioned that my kids weren't going to be allowed to watch the traditional Sunday night movie because earlier that week they had, unbeknownst to me, snuck the TV up to their room and watched a movie. When I had called up to ask what they were doing, they said they were having a reading party, the little stinkers.
Yo-Yo piped up, "You shouldn't be telling your friends about the stuff we do!"
"I tell my friends lots of things about you guys and they still love you," I said (rather patronizingly).
Yo-Yo's retort was swift and logical. "Well, then I should tell your friends about how you really are at home! You do all kinds of stuff that you don't tell them about!"
Kris chimed in, graciously smoothing things out, "As do all of us. And we still love each other."
Apparently I have not yet attained Atticus Finch's ability to be the same in house as on the public streets (some days I don't even try all that hard, I admit). This failing of mine is one of my warts, no doubt about it.
Maybe I engineer more gauzy structures than I'm aware of?
And that, my dears, concludes today's ramblings.
About one year ago: The mother of his children.