A few weeks ago, a friend messaged me after reading my blog and said something like, “Wow, you’re a supermom. Amazing. I can’t do any of that stuff!”
My response: “Yeah, well… I can’t hold down a full-time job. So there’s that.”
And then she asked me why I feel the need to downplay my talents.
We are living in the era of Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Everybody posts photos of their dinner, their kids, their up-cycled furniture, and their Disney cruises (yes, P, I’m looking at you!). It’s easy to get the impression that those people’s lives are always picture-perfect and that they would never have an evening where they slammed a box of cereal down on the table while proclaiming, “Tonight’s dinner is Whatever the heck you want served with a side of Get it your own d**n self!”
There’s a meme that periodically makes the rounds: “Don’t compare your bloopers to someone else’s highlight reel,” it reminds us. A lovely sentiment, and yet we keep on comparing ourselves and feeling like our lives come up short somehow.
The thing is, we’re always going to compare ourselves to others. Some of us are more prone to it, but in the end we all do to some degree — it’s human nature. That’s why I feel the need to offer a disclaimer after people compliment something they saw on my blog. I would hate for someone to read my posts and then go away feeling that they weren’t good enough somehow. I live a charmed life for the most part, but I still have bad days, unkind thoughts, and huge gaps in my skill set. I wasn’t just deflecting when I responded to that friend; I truly am impressed by people who can work a full-time job with some measure of success and still come home and be a parent and a partner. I can’t get it together to manage that.
When I meet people and they ask me what I do, I usually tell them about my professional qualifications despite the fact that I haven’t practiced said profession in over 13 years. I used to very honestly say, “I’m a stay-at-home mom to four kids,” but that seemed to be a conversation killer, as if not pursuing a career means I’ve been lobotomized and have no interests outside of parenting. That’s my insecurity — it might not be anyone else’s. But I talk about it openly because I think it helps others to know that even people who come across publicly as “having it all together” fall apart sometimes.
In the spirit of keeping it real, I’ll tell you what tonight’s post was going to be about.
We had a lovely evening: dinner outside followed by K teaching E tricks on the trampoline. Then I announced that we would be making homemade ice cream — in a bag! We measured the ingredients and followed all the instructions. Then I froze my hands off throwing the bag of salted ice around alone (the girls thought I had said “back porch” when I thought they said “front porch” and even after fifteen minutes they didn’t think of checking the front to see if I was there.) When we finally removed the outer bag of ice and rinsed all the salt water away, the girls eagerly crowded around the sink to catch the first glimpse of our homemade strawberry ice cream. I opened the inner bag and there it was:
A strawberry milkshake.
The ice cream didn’t freeze. I don’t know why, but it was disappointingly liquid. There went my idea for a blog post about a beautiful evening with my children topped off by photogenic homemade treats. The only reason E agreed to go to bed was that I put the milkshake in the freezer and promised she could have ice cream for breakfast tomorrow.
I did take a picture for you, halfway through the process. I think it captures the mood quite nicely.