Isn’t it ironic how sometimes simple ends up being more work? I look at all these pretty magazine photo shoots of these simple comfy living rooms all nicely decorated in shades of white for the holidays and think wow that looks beautiful! It’s simple yet homey. It feels yummy and you want to cuddle up under their throw blanket casually strewn on the sofa and take a nap.
These glossy photos show perfection, simplicity and style all beautifully packaged so that we think all our living rooms can look just like that. There are not toys strewn everywhere though they may be strategically placed to show children live there. They are probably in cute little baskets and like a miracle children just put them back there when they’re done playing. There’s not any leftover snacks and drinks left behind. There’s not game controllers and remotes floating out of place. I’m seriously betting there are not crumbs under those sofa cushions either. You know… it probably smells good in that room too!
So I’m going to admit it here that my living room doesn’t look like a magazine spread of beautiful holiday simplicity. It is much more like a war zone most days with a tree decorated and it most days have misfired Nerf darts sticking out of it. There are definitely crumbs under my sofa cushions and my son and his friends leave snack leftovers all the time that Daisy our Golden Retriever somewhat cleans up for me. Daisy also likes to swim every day so it’s often that you will step in a slightly damp spot on the floor from her not being completely dry when she comes in. This is our life.
As Wide as the Delta
Magazines have a way of making women instantly feel inferior. We are not ever slim enough. Tall enough. We are too hippy. Our feet too big and our hair well just forget about it because the self-blowout I do at home leaves more frizz than a hot humid day here in the South. Designers do not have to worry about me being found in their outfits on “Who Wore it Better” because I will likely never be a size 0 on my 6 foot frame.
The inferiority messages don’t stop though at the clothes most of us will never have the chance to try on as it’s shown in magazines. Nope it just keeps rolling straight into our very own homes. Our sacred spaces where one should be able to let loose and be themselves. Even that area is overridden with magazines and advertisers showing us how we are not keeping up with how things should look there either. The differences can be as wide as the Mississippi Delta on a clear day.
As I flipped through the year end copy of my Better Homes & Garden magazine while sitting on my crumb covered sofa cushions these thoughts came through my head like a steam engine. I frequently toss my favorite magazines in my suitcase when I travel so I can look at something when I have time or I’ll flip through them at home and leave them on my ottoman for a while for visitors. I never thought much about the messages these pretty pictures had to them or how much it subconsciously was making me compare my own self and home to those pictures. I always felt guilty when I’d see these pretty gardens and backyards and it would trigger me to do some work in my own yard but I never realized why before now.
Whether we realize it or not we are constantly measuring up, comparing, competing and trying to fit in – even when it is just against a magazine photo! Photoshop a big deer in the headlights for me because that’s exactly the conclusion I came to when I saw that pretty white on white living room all pristine and pretty while my own looks like my family has taken up squatting there for ages.
Taking the Cape Off
We hear and I strive on this blog to share that we should living in alignment to our true selves. For me that specifically means living life on your terms more naturally (hence my motto for Dragonspit Apothecary). I think most of us have some variation of this message we attempt to practice and to teach our children. Yes be true to yourself and stop worrying what other people think. All that is well and good until you open a magazine or want to make friends who are cool and have homes like you see in a magazine right?
Not right. I do still go full on instant cleaning when I hear someone is coming over but there are a lot of times people just show up. That ever happen to you? How many times have you caught yourself saying, “Oh hi. Excuse the mess, I was working on cleaning.” First off no you weren’t. You were about to binge watch 5 episodes of Gilmore Girls and eat ice cream, there’s a spoon in your hand to prove it. Secondly, why are you apologizing for your home? Why are you apologizing for being comfy, relaxing and enjoying downtime instead of making sure your home is always guest ready?
Look I’m not saying or advocating we start living as pigs. If my family is reading this I repeat, this is not permission to think I am excusing all cleaning from here on out. However, what I am saying is if you are catching a break to kick back, relax or take a time out and that means skipping house cleaning then if someone shows up it’s ok. We have to stop pretending we are super human if we want people to know we are human at all. If we stop trying to do it all, all the time, people will stop having unrealistic expectations of all us women can do every single day and act like it is no big deal. IT IS A BIG DEAL!!
We are tired moms who work a lot of hours each week. We’re doing right by our families. We make sure there are meals on the table and homework is done every night. We are making our washing machines work double time keeping up. We put up a tree and decorated it with the family even though now it has some NERFs in it because well we as a family had an indoor NERF war with each other. We were having fun! We were being what the magazines try to say people are doing in living easily and simply. Sometimes even super moms like us deserve and need to take the cape off.
Sofa Crumbs of Real Life
Yes I know as I sit here on my sofa that should be replaced because it’s getting worn out from endless family times together and little boys rough housing, that there are crumbs, wrappers and toys under these cushions. The carpet needs to be vacuumed and there’s some dust I’m sure if I don’t look that hard. Yet I’m enjoying a hot tea and some time on this keyboard telling you about my dirty living room. I will at some point get up and clean this room but I wanted to sit with this lesson a while.
I enjoy having a clean house. I like when things are in order and it smells good. I really like when I have pretty accessories out that don’t look cluttered and that aren’t attractive for the dog to grab and chew leaving remnants all over the floor. It would be great if my home looked that way more often. I’m not talking magazine worthy but just clean and smelling nice would be great. Most of the time I get it to that state and it works for me and my family. Other times, when it is like it is today and we’re a couple weeks from Christmas it is harder to ignore the fact it should be cleaned up. I’ve made peace with it most days that like designer clothes worn by super models my home will never be picture perfect.
The more we let go of what someone else tells us is the right way or that we should be doing the more we can really define how we want it to be. Even at Christmas when you know someone is going to drop by unexpectedly sooner or later we need to establish that permission to be who we are at this very moment.