Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Optical Illusion

Recently I read a post describing blogging as an "optical illusion,"
mentioning that when you see a beautiful cake on a blog,
you aren't seeing the messy kitchen that made it.
Or when you see a nice sewing project,
you aren't seeing the seams that had to be ripped in the process.
It got me thinking and I've thought of it quite a lot since.

I know that this blog is the best showing of myself and of our life. I don't like being vulnerable, even to the absolute reality that I am human oftentimes. I do believe that we all know our own shortcomings all too well, so I might as well not share mine and be a drag in the process. But, on the other hand, most of the time life is unflattering, for me and for anyone else too.

I've written this post progressively over the last couple of weeks, in times of frustration and optimism. It's more a conversation with myself than anything, I guess. It proves that I am an over-thinker, far more worldly than I should be. I've cried and smiled both as I've typed. I've gone into depth and just skimmed the surface. For better or worse, this is a touch of our less attractive reality. If you choose to read, hopefully you won't be left lacking in the end. The point, for me, was to remind myself that blessings outweigh trials and frustrations. I guess if nothing else, should you need to feel better about yourself in comparison today, here it is!

1) My Mom's house is perfect. Really, it is. It belongs in a magazine. Really, it does. And she's always been like that, even when we were little. She did the dishes before she went to bed. She spent time making the yard immaculate and growing a nice garden. She painted, crafted, sewed perfectly- she still does. When she puts her hand or mind to something, it happens with awe. Our house always smelled good, with nice music playing. She did all that house type stuff with panache on top of helping my Dad with our farm, working harvest, checking lines, fetching parts, etc. She was, is, Mom/Wife Extraordinaire. Really, she is, even if she is shaking her head as she reads this. And, you got it, I certainly am not. I do dishes, scrub toilets and mop the floors when I have to. I have laundry on the couch, needing either folded or put away, most days of the week. I feed my boys pancakes for dinner sometimes. I'll often kick a toy at my feet out of the way rather than reaching to pick it up and put it away. While I'd love love love to have a garden, it has yet to be a reality each summer. I could go on and on, but you get it- I'm not exactly phenomenal at my job. Case in point, my sewing table, above, and my craft table (or storage area, rather) here:

It could be said, too, though, (herein lies the therapy of writing this post at all, I hope) that I'm not entirely horrible at this job either. I truly do believe that laundry on the couch is not the worst thing ever. I might do easy pancakes for dinner, but more importantly, I make sure my family isn't hungry. The next night (or at least some night that week) is meat and potatoes. My sewing is far less than perfect and patterns make me want to scream, but, nonetheless, I can sew! Stephen handles the large bulk of business type stuff for our family, but when he calls and needs an invoice emailed or a phone number relayed or an errand ran, I make it happen. Our house is far more than a mere path through the clutter. It's generally nice. Lived in, but nice. There are days of total wreckage, but they aren't the norm. No magazine photographers will be arriving anytime soon, really EVER, but I'd prefer it that way hands down. I do wish I was a better testament to my own Mom's awesomeness, because she taught me incredibly well. Now isn't the season of my life for pretty pillows and polished floors, but this facet of life will get better with time and experience. It will.

2) We live in a manufactured house, fake walls and all. I hate the wallpaper and the fact that I can't escape it for the most part. We have no backyard and no privacy fence, with a yard that borders one of the main roads to and from town. Nothing like being on display when I'm out playing with the boys, which is something I love doing! Anyone interested in our bubble snakes, and water gun targets, and sheet forts built off the porch, will get their fill this summer... and I'll be a little a lot more uneasy all the while. I would love to paint the outside of this place and get rid of the fading that seems to be going on in random places. To me, our house announces to the ward that, indeed, we are the poorest family in the congregation. Not long ago a woman I was on the phone with referred to our neighborhood as "the trailers." I suffered through the rest of the call, got off the phone and cried.

And on the other hand, I was happy with the inside of our house from when I first walked through it, wallpaper and all. I felt so good when we moved in! I love the new carpet, the white two-inch blinds, the big island at the center of the kitchen, the rock work surrounding the mantle, the master bath corner shower with two shower heads and no door. This might be a manufactured house, but I have to confess that I really do like it. When I'm in my kitchen, with the boys laughing as they run in a circle around it, or when I'm sitting on our bed watching the boys bath in our garden tub as though it were a swimming pool, or if I ever figure out how to ignore the traffic as we play in the yard (really they aren't even seeing us), those moments are free of negative. I like it here, I really do. I'm grateful for a new start in a familiar place, all else aside. I realize there is absolutely no viable reason for complaint at all. Our house is warm, solid, comfy and most importantly, where the people I love the most are with me, fake walls and no privacy and all. And we might be the poorest people around, but my husband works hard and long for us and makes it so that I can be home with the boys- I am proud of HIM. 

 See why I just don't do this really? I'm sick of myself already! Last one...

3) Ya know, when I pondered raising boys when they were babies, I always came around to thoughts of my only brother. He was- is- impressive. I don't remember him being loud or obnoxious. I don't remember him being sassy or full of attitude. I don't remember him making choices that he knew he shouldn't be. I never remember my parents having to repeat anything over and over and over again. But, guess what? My boys are or do. I'm quite certain these days that most of what I say doesn't even register with them. Asking or speaking kindly without being reminded? Right. Choosing the right for the sake of the fact that it IS right? Yeah. Spouting off why he is right and I am wrong, or making sure I understand I'm flat stupid? Got it. How about throwing himself down on the ground whenever there is any kind of ripple in what he had in mind? We've got that covered. Not a day goes by that I don't  feel like I'm failing as a Mom. We won't even get in to what a wicked step mother I am, either... And I really don't know how to fix it. In theory, in some ways, I guess I do, but in reality, not so much.

And on the other hand, there are many times in any day, somehow or another, that they do express love and gratitude. They might pitch a fit in the process, but they don't (most often) deliberately disobey. If they are calm enough, they do listen and hear me, even if they make sure I get it that they don't agree oftentimes. I think I just can't seem to get it that they are 4 and 2- they are little, toddlers even. This is a difficult stage in general, no matter how prodigy a kid might be. They might not care one bit about a lot of the projects and ideas I try to excite them with, but they also should have no shortage of fun memories in the name of the ones that they do go for. They'll remember that their Mom was good at losing it, but I think they'll also realize one day that I was kind and loving and deeply aware of them. I might be stupid to them, but I'm not convinced that I'm stupid across the board.  It will get better. Better with time and experience, hopefully before it's too late and they're gone or beyond reaching. They might be sassy and dis-respectful at times, but they are smart and bright and beautiful too. I can say far more good about who they are than I can bad. I am proud of them no matter what.

Phew! If you made it through that,
you know more about how my brain over-thinks than you surely wanted to!
Thanks for letting me cry and smile both.
There is no reason for complaint and even realism proves blessings!
No optical illusion here...
but a good record and reminder I hope!
I think I might have to do this more often... :)



  1. Way to record the positive and the negative, and the acceptance. I spend a lot of each day thinking about how I do compared to my mom, and work really hard to remind myself that it's okay that I do it a little different, not poorly, just different. I feel the "stigma" of the neighborhood too, and it's sad, but how wonderful to have the space, and a yard. And you know there are a few people in the ward in the same boat :) I'm so glad to know you, sad that you are in primary so often! and one of these days we should be brave and do something crazy, like visiting teaching! ;)

  2. Sky, I think this is an amazing post & have thought a lot recently about the same thing and wanted to do a post very similar to this. Of course I don't want to post the bad on my blog but I think at the same time that makes our blog/family seem a little too perfect! We are by far not perfect but want to share and remember our good times. I think you did a great job on this post :-)

  3. Morning Sunshine:
    You know why I like coming here to blog land and visiting you? Because you are real! You don't try to fake something and show off, you are down to earth honest to God person. I like that! I have been in a ward that I hated with all my heart, and one that I loved with all my heart.
    But you know what my Daddy always says: Your closest neighbors are those within your own walls. If they are happy, healthy, and wise you have done your job.
    Thanks for sharing with me and never ever worry that I might judge you, heck I want to be more like you. : )

    Vicki R

  4. awesome! love the realness. ;-) And for the record, My house is a mess 99% of the time. There are always other things I'd rather do than clean. Playing with your kids is sooo much more fun. :-) And I think most moms worry about being a good mom. I think that is a sign you are a good mom because you are worried about it!

  5. I did enjoy your post, not because you feel the way you do, but because someone else feels like I do! We are always hard on ourselves as moms! I dont have 2 toddlers yet, but I understand how crazy life is with little ones. I often look at the clock at the end of the day and wonder how I managed to not get much accomplished. But they are only little for a short time, I guess I need to learn to relax and enjoy the ride! I live in a tiny 2 bedroom house. We have outgrown it at every level. I have suggested many times that I would be happy to live in a manufactured home just to have more space! But I do love the payment and when I describe my envy to other women with larger homes, most of them would give it all up so they could stay home with their kids! Its all about perspective! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hope to see you guys sometime this summer

  6. Sky you are so amazing! I was so thrilled when I saw you were moving into our ward! I love this post! It just is nice to know that I am not the only one out there living this same exact life. I see from your blog all the fun and amazing things you do with your boys and I wish I could be even half that much fun with my kiddos. You are an amazing mother, and I think your kiddos know it too! By the way, I think your mother is amazing too (I think it must be a Waddoups thing), but I think you are more like her than you think. :)

  7. Great post!! I agree that to often we see what we think to be perfection on blogs. It is good to keep in mind the mess it took to make what ever craft we are looking at.:) I love that you were willing to show you mess. You are very brave.

  8. Oh, how I loved reading this. You are an amazing mother and wife and person. You can tell through and through by this. we all have the good and the bad and I loved that all the good out weighs the bad. Thank you for the beauty of all this tonight.


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