This is a pretty busy week so we are revisiting some old favorites. I figure if Gaga can have a Best of Album already I am entitled to a few best of posts.;)
When I worked outside of the house full time I used to pour over the pages of the dozens of catalogs that arrived in my mail and imagine my life could be like those pictures. Whether it was kayaking in a Land’s End Fleece, or a table set with PB Kids Halloween themed dishware, I wanted what I saw in those pictures and I was convinced if I just had the time or money-or both at the same time – I could make it happen. I could turn my life into a catalog picture…if only.
The problem is, I don’t kayak. Even when I worked full time and could afford to buy whatever clothes I chose, my curves don’t really work in “active lifestyle” gear. I tend to be boxy and masculine. And really, unless you count pushing a stroller to the library active, my lifestyle doesn’t really fit the clothes any more than my hips do.
Now that I have the time for a beautifully set table it doesn’t matter. I have three loud, messy kids who will either break something or just refuse to eat anything off the lovely pumpkin plates thus ruining the illusion of a perfect catalog picture life.
I still get pangs of longing when I look through these catalogs. I still sometimes wish I could have a kid bathroom filled with themed (and of course monogrammed) towels and rugs and shower curtains. I always wish I could stroll the streets of Paris or London hand in hand with my man, me in my fabulous Boden wrap-dress, matching boots and handbag; him in his natty Euro duds; both sipping cappuccinos.
The reality is, lately my matching boots and handbag are both from Target-and rarely are new-or even matching for that matter. I have one full bathroom that I share with my kids so there is no Amazon Tree Frog theme but rather browns and blues abound-so as to not show filth. My husband and I have never been to Paris and my one time in London was visiting a girlfriend by myself because she offered a free place to stay.
This is the truth of my life. We are not a catalog picture family. We have lovely china that we might use once a year. We do have nice furniture in our living room that will probably need to be recovered as it’s slowly being destroyed by sticky fingers and dirty feet. the rest of our house is a collection of hand me downs and thrift store or garage sale finds-nary a Pottery Barn piece in sight. My clothes, for now, should probably stay inexpensive (save for a few dresses and winter coat) because unless I am at a business function all day, my outfit will end up with something dirty or gooey on it somewhere.
The truth isn’t always pretty. But in my life, I have actually come to love it. I have never been happier with who I am. Some days I get to still feel glamorous, because of my job. I even have a few fancy outfits and accessories which I rarely use but when I do- I won’t lie- they make me happy. On occasion I set a beautiful table and even have Holiday dishes.
The incidents where my house and I are fancy, are great but rare. On a day to day basis what I am is useful, strong, practical, efficient low-maintenance and fun-just like my clothes and the house I have set up. It doesn’t matter how many catalog purchases I make or don’t make-they don’t change who I am-for better or worse.
The best part of my truth is that there are all sorts of wonderful people out there who share it. No one cares how I set the table, they still enjoy coming to eat. No one cares that our bathroom is sparsely decorated (to keep the two year old from putting things in the toilet) they still come to parties here. No one cares that my shirts are from Target and sometimes spread the sticky-people still reach out to give me hugs. I have been fortunate enough to surround myself and my children with people who like who we are, not what we or our table are wearing.
So, I may still feel an incurable need for riding boots, matching Christmas pajamas for the whole family or Monogrammed Halloween Treat Bags, but I am able to fight off the desire for a dream life, by reminding myself that the real thing is pretty darn good.
Now if only I could work in that cappuccino in Paris.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.