Wednesday, September 7, 2011


 Before she even planned on having children she knew exactly how they should be raised. The moment she found out she was pregnant she knew what to do. First of all she should be a stay at home mom. She read everything she could get her hands on. Before she felt the first kick she knew that breast feeding was the only way to go. She knew when to start solids and sippy cups.  She knew how to safely set up a crib and that the best nursery decorations were a soothing cream and peach with a very tasteful Peter Rabbit theme complete with Beatrix Potter Bumper pads. She knew the safest way for the baby to sleep. She knew natural childbirth classes were a must but that an epidural was what she wanted. Best of both worlds.
 Her day was planned perfectly with each activity in its own time slot. Her babies wore soft gowns washed in Ivory soap and bathed in the safest infant tub followed by careful massage with lotion and a sprinkle of fresh cornstarch-because baby powder was dangerous. She held them. She sang to them. She did everything she was supposed to do. Her life revolved around her little ones. They were perfect.

Have you met her?

 She was always well groomed.
Roots never showing.  Makeup done. Always dressed right for the occasion. Her husband was handsome and they really loved each other. He does well in business and everything they touch turns to gold. She drove a shiny big Limited Edition SUV in the latest model. They live in a big house they renovated themselves in a wonderful neighborhood. Kept clean and carefully OCD organized. The walls hung with original art by family members. It is decorated in an eclectic style that always receives compliments. She designed it herself.

Have you seen her?

 Her children had limited television and mostly educational programs. Disney movies and worthwhile classics were fine as a treat. She dressed her kids in carefully coordinated, classic outfits of good quality. Cute plaid skirts and knit tops. Outside play was expected everyday because fresh air and exercise are good for them. They had the coolest outdoor playset in the neighborhood. Creative indoor play is also encouraged. Building sets, arts and crafts. She bought her children mostly educational toys and old fashioned playthings to pique their imaginations. She read to them every day.

 She packed homemade well rounded lunches with 100% juice and an ice pack to keep food temperature safe. She left notes in them. She cooked every night and always included vegetables and made sure they had fruit available. She did not buy junk food and refused to buy brightly colored sugary cereals. Her children snacked on carrots because they liked to.

They sat down to dinner as a family every night.

They took cool family vacations where they did things like hiking and camping and kayaking together.
They were perfect.

Do you know her?

When it was time for school she found the 'best pre-school.' A very small Christian school that those 'in the know' frequent. She arranged playdates. She always reciprocated. She planned special birthday parties.
 When they started elementary school she knew what teachers to request even though it was against the rules and knew she would get them because she was in the loop. She never missed open house and had meetings with the teachers. When it was time she had her children tested for the gifted program.  They were accepted of course. They studied hard. They always had their homework and she spent hours helping and checking their work. She encouraged them to think, to imagine, to know that they could be anything they wanted to be. When they showed a special interest in something she went out of her way to give then every opportunity to explore it. She carefully balanced time for study and play so that everyone was well rounded.
 She volunteered at school. Baked cookies. Helped with class parties. Read aloud in the classrooms. She belonged to the PTA and helped with fund raisers and would send in something for events but the planning committee for that wasn't really her thing,  so she chose to participate as a board member on a separate Advisory Counsel for important issues like school budget spending and curriculum. ( ok, she refused to be a sheep and sometimes voted against the grain on purpose when she thought it was being fixed ) anyway..

They were involved in sports because it teaches kids teamwork and responsibility as well as being fun and healthy. They never missed practice. She went to every game. Her husband helped coach. She never forgot snack. When they showed an interest in music lessons were provided. She went to every concert. Art supplies were always in stock and creativity encouraged. She let them paint pictures on the walls in their rooms. An artistic impulse should not be thwarted. Damn resale value. A little bit of freedom. A touch of individuality.

Do you like her?

They attended church every Sunday. The kids were in Sunday School. They participated in Christmas Pageants and youth activities. She made sure they attended instruction to be confirmed. She fed the homeless at the local shelter. Her kids were taught compassion. They were taught to treat all people with respect. They talked about their faith at home too,  didn't just leave it to Sundays.

Two years before each child began Middle School began she would carefully research. She included the children in looking at the choices,  making sure it was what they wanted. Then meticulously made sure they had all the resources they needed to accomplish these goals. They did. They were shining stars. They excelled. They had friends. Things were going perfect.

She was careful with what they read. What they watched. What they wore. She knew who their friends were. She knew where they were. She had strict but fair guidelines on what was age appropriate. She carefully tried to balance her value system with what the children encountered and wanted in order to fit in and gave careful and educated thought to what was best. She paid attention. She talked. She listened.

In every situation she knew exactly what to do.

Do you recognize her?

Then one day she didn't know what to do anymore.

 When she looked around she realized that a line had been there all along. She had all the trappings of being on the other side of that line but in fact she had never crossed it. She had actually stood a few feet back from it because she recognized this deep inside. And the world outside her family did too. Which was why she had never become comfortable with the other side of that line and remained standoffish. And the world around her did too. ( So she said screw it. I can't stand these people anyway.)When she turned away they never even noticed. It was like she had never been there. She realized then for sure that she never had.

She was functioning on how she thought things were supposed to be. She thought if she followed the instructions carefully things would run perfectly. It fell apart. It wasn't real. It couldn't be programmed. She was only human.

Life isn't perfect.

And real life had just come up and slapped the crap out of her.

She used to be me.

I like her much better now.  Her husband is still handsome and they still love each other. Her kids are compassionate. Her closets are all still organized by style and color but most of the clothes are in a laundry basket somewhere.

© 2011 All Rights Reserved


  1. Is this what they call growing up or coming of age? When you finally just get it?

    I think I get what you're saying and really life seems so much easier when you stop doing what you think is the right thing and simply start living

  2. This post brought tears to my eyes. You just described my life.

    This is beautifully written and so eloquent. Bravo!

  3. Yup - I thought you were talking about me, though - not about you :) Kindred spirits - we are!

  4. Life slapped the crap out of me, early on. I never aspired to greatness, just muddled through, doing the best I could, playing it by ear and hoping for a decent outcome. However, I GAVE IT EVERYTHING I HAD!

  5. okay, i'm a single man so i don't know this experience and lifestyle you write of, but that doesn't matter when the piece is really well written. it was lean, it built momentum. and you built a lot of power into it. your prose also had a routine to it that reflected the character's life routine very well.
    your point of insight, as the professionals call it, was huge. and it was cool how you tuck it in there. i also really want to hear more about this point of insight, or internal awakening. i'm new here so i don't know what the archives hold but i like your story.

  6. Fi: Very true. I stopped living at all for awhile and then realized things can get better in time all by themselves : )

    MDSG: I think it is so many of us. We hit some pitfalls with our kids I didn't expect but I wonder how many of us are inside wondering who is judging us while they are wondering the same thing.

    Silver Strands: I was hoping for that feeling. My feelings revolved around my own situation but I know that other woman have the same kind of epiphanies for many reasons.

    Ms. A: I gave it my best shot but muddle is the only way to go. I live by it now!

    Ed: Thank you Ed. I appreciate the review from that standpoint because I have little experience with whether I'm doing it right! As for the story- If you have any plans on starting a family someday and you read my archives you might change your mind. Joking!...sort of...

  7. bless your heart for being that patient and together. muddle? that is a strong word for me on most days lol. but hey. i try. kind of. sometimes. a little.

    eh. no one is dead or in jail. does that count?

  8. What a great way to describe your journey to acceptance of yourself as a "real" human. I think a lot of women could really relate to this. I strongly embrace imperfection - it's much easier to live with and less pressure to live up to!

  9. I was feeling real insecure :-) about this woman. but oh can I relate. How id love.everything picture perfect but have to be willing to adjust to life and circumstances. Hugs to you.

  10. and here, we diverge, my friend.... my picture perfect started to shatter with the first baby who decided not to sleep through the night until i made him scream at 10 months old. and the second who would scream and scream, full of gas, and i could do almost nothing for him and would only sleep in his car seat. by the time baby number three came i was already so far behind my "dream" family life that i was already saying "screw it. we are just going to have to wing this mutha!" i still have my moments of WANTING that OCD (yeah, i know. crazier than even having the ocd itself) but mostly i take a deep breath and go with it. what else can i do when the kids paint with nailpolish on their bikes and the house or some other crazy on a daily basis? maybe i am already subconsciously bracing myself for the time when it is no longer something that innocent. anyhoo... glad you fell off the stepford wife wagon... you know i think you rock. mwah! (oh, and thanks for reminding me to color my hair! the roots are bad, my friend. bad.)

  11. Loco YaYa: At this point 'no one is dead or in jail." is the ONLY thing that counts!

    Kid Id: I strongly agree! I really prefer being a little off. It's more how I was raised to be and I was foolish to try to be different : )

    Nicole: This woman was very insecure which is why she thought she had to follow things to the letter to make them go right. As you know they went wrong plenty around here! It was almost a relief : )

    Elissa: I tried to be one of those people but at some point I realized that genetics won and we are just a strange bunch. I might as well embrace it and allow myself to enjoy it because I do! : )

    This is an example. Littlest suddenly had a boyfriend this week out of nowhere. She brought him by to meet us and I shook his hand and smiled while trying to block the open laundry room door with the clothes piled everywhere. The dogs rushed him. My husband walked thru the door just as the poor boy tried to give her a kiss goodbye. She said she sent him a message telling him she was sorry her family was terrifying. I said, Hey, I was nice!
    She said, yeah, the mom on the Addams family was always nice too : )

  12. Oh my goodness! My son and daughter always wanted a family like the Brady Bunch. What they got was much more like the Addams Family. Now they both appreciate it.

  13. Linda: That says it perfectly! Too bad they can't be my neighbors : )

  14. What a great blog so glad I stumbled upon it, look forward to following you.

  15. Oh my gosh! Yes, perfection is killing. I was reading this -knowing it was you- and wishing I had been so organized as a mom, but also knowing the impossibility. :-)
    The happy ending is all that matters. So glad you found you, and your life is much sweeter for it.

  16. Karen: Thanks for coming by! I will be by to visit : )

    Angelia: Well sometimes it's sweeter and sometimes it's still a bitter pill. But at least I'm taking it on my own terms : )


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