If there's anything that being involved in the blogging world has taught me it's that I'm not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, clean enough, or anything enough. Okay, I'm kidding. But only sort of. Blogs are where we show off our extra best selves - unless we're writing about how we can't make it to the bathroom or being sad - and some people's extra best selves are just more photogenic and PR friendly than others. Seriously, a girl could develop a complex reading all the blogs written by all those ladies, wives, and moms who never have a bad day, are always surrounded by beauty, and don't have an ounce of stress in their lives.
That's the illusion, anyway, and it's an illusion that doesn't need a blog or a photo album. We all walk around not talking about the hurt or the stress or the challenges.
We present our most photogenic and PR friendly SELVES in real life, too.
I know it isn't real. Even those lucky people with legitimately sunshineriffic outlooks on life have their bad days. No one's house is picture perfect all the time. Perfect people lose their tempers, too. Some people are good at some things, some people are good at others. Everyone feels a little low now and then.
And comparing yourself to other people is a recipe for disaster no matter what. I know this.
So what's the problem, you ask? The problem, my lovelies, is that last part. Look, the fact is I have never had a lot of luck or crafting talent or a big interesting house or really cool hair. I'm not the smartest or the fittest or the cleanest even the luckiest. I'm blessed, but I'm not supremely blessed the way others seem to be (although I'm certainly supremely blessed compared to many people). I have to work, sometimes a lot. I had to put my daughter in daycare. Money can be tight. And I look at everyone around me and can't help but assume that everyone I see is living the high life, making the best decisions, and pretty much getting everything they want all the time. True? Of course not. But when I'm in a darker mood or feeling sad that I'm a working mom, it sure can feel true.
My response to these feelings is pretty comical and, according to science, depression inducing.
Where other people try to keep up with the Joneses, I try to keep up with the Stay at Homeses. Look, I've never actually been a SAHM. Sure I had the Babby at my side, but I worked until the day before the Babby was born and I got back to work about four days later because an early baby meant I hadn't had any time to work ahead or coordinate anything resembling maternity leave. The Babby and I figured out our own version of work-life balance, and that lasted until an economy-driven freelance slump. It is what it is, and as I said last week or so, I'm done complaining.
Since then, though, I have so feared being judged as LESS - less of a mom, less of a wife, less successful, less competent, less worthy, less fun, or less nice - that I have busted my rump trying to keep up with all of the many, many SAHMs in my life who literally have seven more hours each weekday than I do to devote to child rearing and homemaking. Because I am absolutely terrified of people looking down on me or feeling sorry for me or otherwise thinking I am just an utterly terrible human being because I have to work and thus cannot spend more of my time taking care of home and family.
Thus my home is probably cleaner and more organized than it was before I went back to working outside of the home to compensate for the time I'm not there. I try harder to make the Babby's life both engaging and educational to compensate for all the fun things we can no longer do outside of weekends that feel all too brief. I'm constantly looking for new things to reupholster, decoupage, or otherwise modify into something cuter or more colorful. I suddenly find myself with more social obligations than ever before. I'm wearing earrings to casual get togethers, as if anyone cares what I look like!
To put it another way, I am trying to create the most photogenic and PR friendly life I can to make up for the fact that there's a lot about my life right now that's not what I think of as photogenic and PR friendly.
That's what keeping up with the stay at homeses is all about. When I had the time to work on creating the illusion of perfection, I didn't care about perfection. And now that I no longer have the time, I'm a woman semi-obsessed with NOT appearing frazzled and making it look like I can handle everything that comes my way with a smile on my face and a vegan chocolate chip peanut butter cake fresh out of the oven whenever one is called for.
Do any of you other working moms out there ever feel like you need to keep up with your stay at home mom friends? Do you succeed or just end up wearing yourself out?