Thoughts on a day

It’s interesting that emails and comments about my day in the life post have taken certain avenues.  I’m surprised at the feedback which has been so happy to see a ‘real day’ and surprised by the sense that I’d had a bad day.

From my perspective, it wasn’t a bad day or even a hard day.  The kids fought with each other, yes, but not with me. They did everything I asked them to for homeschooling – and, trust me, that alone practically makes it a gold star day.  They played outdoors.  They tried some new things.  We ate fairly healthy foods for all meals (supper turning out to be cold cucumber soup with cheese toasts).  I was at about 60-70% of normal and didn’t have the feeling of getting sick turn into one of those Visitations that it could have been. I didn’t cry.

I was also surprised by the thankfulness that I’d shared a ‘real day’.  Leaving aside the fact that fabulous days are also real days, I’m struck by two things: 1) that I do mention quite frequently that we struggle (and have gone through huge problems in the past), and 2) that either the homeschooling blogosphere must not be doing a good job of being honest or we’re having a hard time being nice to ourselves.

Interestingly, I’m working on a fairly long post right now which discusses the way I used to blog compared to the way I blog now while discussing a lot of other things that have changed for me. I won’t go over the same ground, but I did previously focus a lot on the hard parts of my day while blogging.  I felt that I needed to be upfront about our troubles.  It seemed like everyone was having wonderful learning journeys except me.  Until Sandra’s learning troubles were diagnosed, it wasn’t uncommon for me to end up weeping twice a week over my failure to teach her.  I wished someone could help me, but since it seemed no one could, I thought I might be the lone voice in the wilderness being honest about having hard days.  In the end, our days got better and I also got bored of writing so much negativity.  I wanted to come away from recording our days feeling like it was a positive use of my energy and time.

Which leads us to the larger issue of the atmosphere of blogging.  And it’s not just homeschooling blogs.  Craft blogs can make crafters feel inadequate. Mommy blogs can make mommies feel inadequate.  Photo blogs can make photographers feel inadequate.

Somewhere, somewhen, I came across an article that stated that the cruelest thing which mothers of young children do to each other is clean the house before a playdate.  Anyone who’s dropped in on a friend to discover a house in a…ahem…state of flux and felt that sense of angel-chorus-singing-relief knows how true this can be.

A friend of mine calls this problem “comparing your insides to other people’s outsides”. In other words, you have no choice but to live with all your faults and errors and goof-ups. You know you’re a flawed being. Comparing that self to the edited outside face of someone else is deadly.

I wonder sometimes about the honesty of macro. I felt dishonest for a while for largely posting macro shots. They crop out the clutter. And the dog hair. And the nasty carpet that we’re still too broke to replace. But I realized that macro is how my brain works when it’s working well. When I’m not tired or hormonal or stressed.

My mind does look at my kitchen and zoom in on the flowers in the vase. My mind does see a whole day with the kids being their complicated selves and remember that they held hands in the mall – as tweens! My mind does ignore the clutter of a table full of knitting, workbooks, paper, toys, and pens after a morning of homeschooling and sees the rich colour of the tea in the mug and the delightful anticipation of the moment just before it hits the tongue but when the warm air is already filling your breath.

Which picture is truer?

___

In Which

Shelves

___

Both have books. Both were taken on a sunny day. (Not today, unfortunately.) Both are of real moments. Both have positive memories, even. I’ve been tidying and organizing off and on for months now and I’m really getting a handle on things.

A long post.

But it’s important to mention, from time to time, that we’re all real. Because we forget sometimes, don’t we?

That all of us have faults.

And bad days.

And we all hate the way clutter multiplies when you blink.

And that life is still sweet.

And you’re the best ally your children have.

And that I’m strange and odd and beautiful and you are too.

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24 thoughts on “Thoughts on a day

  1. Sarah says:

    Great post, on a subject I have seen a few times. We all seem to know it is true, but still compare ourselves to others as we read. I know my life is probably no where near the one portrayed by my blog and I feel the reverse effect sometimes….people mention it, make me out to be supermom, and I feel I have to live up to that image that wasn’t quite whole to start with. Maybe I need to start posting more negatives and struggles, not just the positives.

  2. Bobbi says:

    I think both pictures are true or a truth. The first being what you are seeing/feeling in the moment and the second being the reality of the surroundings. One isn’t less true than the other because it is all about your view or perspective. And that’s what I enjoy about your writing. It isn’t that it is perfect, or that it is neat. But it is always your perspective and delightedly that perspective of yours makes me look differently out of mine. You could say your focus on the macro of yours surroundings helps me to see the macro in mine.

    I enjoyed your post the other day but ran short of moments to comment. Genuine. That’s what it felt like to me not a “real” day, “good” day or “bad” day just a genuine day.

  3. Melissa says:

    Our own interpretations on the posts we read each day can be swayed by our experiences and our own emotions.
    If we could all see the beauty in “real days”
    It is the still shots, zeroing in past the clutter on the light shining on the dancing dust in the air, the made up games in the backyard and the moments we get to sit back and sigh.
    I saw your post as a glimpse into the day of a strangely odd and beautiful homeschooling mum and i appreciate it.

  4. Courtney says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue! I find that sometimes when I read too many blogs I end up beating myself up for all the things that aren’t right in my life — I look at everyone else’s life on macro and mine on wide-angle.

    I find that it’s a difficult balance to post the “real” me online … because I think that the places we go and things we do are far more interesting than the daily monotony of my life like washing dishes and stepping over messes (those things that presumably everyone experiences).

  5. lizaanne42 says:

    Your ideas here are lovely, and ultimately freeing. I really like the thought that we should be careful about comparing other people’s outsides to our own inside.

    I also want to say, that as a public school teacher, every day, for me, is full of challenges and struggles and frustrations. However, those little moments of unexpected success or understanding or kindness from my children are what I take home with me. Those are what make any given day a “good day,” despite what it might look like to someone else.

    Thanks for writing.
    –Lizaanne

  6. Amy says:

    So true, Sarah, and so well said. I love your friends words about comparing our insides to someone else’s outsides. We women can be so foolish. And I love your thoughts on seeing life in macro, too. That is the way I purposely view life when it looks the way that would make my friend’s heart sing like an angel, as you put it. When my husband asked me why I didn’t notice a mess, I realize that I purposely chose to ignore certain things because I couldn’t do anything about them right then. Instead, I zeroed in on the bits of beauty sprinkled in the midst of the mess.
    Thank you for sharing.

  7. patricia says:

    What I liked about your last post–and didn’t get a chance to comment on–was that you didn’t say it was a good day or a bad day. You didn’t slant it. There was the fact that you seemed to be getting sick, and the bickering of the kids, but there were also some lovely moments, like your lunch. It wasn’t a “bad day” or a “good day”; it was just “a day”. That made the post complicated and interesting–it left the interpretation up to the reader.

    I noticed that at the time, and thought it was an especially intriguing way to chronicle a day.

    The best writers always leave a little open to the reader’s interpretation! Thanks for sharing the post, and the follow-up.

  8. Sarah says:

    So much to respond to with this post …

    I have a SIL who accused me (very angrily) about not ‘being real’ on my blog. She wanted to know why I wasn’t posting about the times my kids were horrid little monsters or when I lost my temper and hit them or when my husband and I got into bad fights.

    The truth is, my kids aren’t horrid little monsters, I do lose my temper but I never hit them, and I give my husband the same respect I give my kids on my blog – you don’t get to hear my bitching about them if it’s something I wouldn’t want bitched about about me.

    I *do* talk about the hard times, but it’s in language she doesn’t understand, without the ramped up bitterness and resentment, so she doesn’t ‘hear’ about the hard times, even though other moms who view life as I do hear what I’m saying.

    About the blogging world, I’d like to put a note on my blog that says “This is part of our life, not our life.”

    About the macro, I’ve noticed that the more I focus on the beauty in my life, the more macro my shots become. I see my toddler playing and notice her fierce look of concentration or her chubby hands manipulating the toys. I see my five-year old in the garden but focus on her smelling the flowers or de-larvaeing her tomato plants. My natural default now is macro. It does have the added benefit of shutting out the mess, but I’ve found since I started doing this, that shutting out the mess mentally helps me be more present and relaxed with my children.

    I do a Snapshot Sunday post every Sunday of three snapshots around the house. Sometimes it’s messes, sometimes it’s beauty in a mess, sometimes it’s funny things the kids left laying around. It’s been fun to see other Snapshots other moms put up on those days. Like one mom said to me, “It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one with a juice box taped to the wall.”

    I think that’s a long enough comment for today. *blushes* (in macro)

  9. Laura says:

    Sarah,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now but have never commented. I’m terrible about leaving comments but love to get comments on my two blogs. I’m going to try to be better about chiming in and letting people know I’m here. I loved your post and your thoughtfulness. It’s certainly true that blog posts only give an edited peek into a full, albeit, messy life. However, I liked your reflections about the fact that while living in the midst of the chaos and struggles, you can still choose to focus on the beauty and joy. Thanks for all your thoughtful posts. I enjoy reading your blog very much.

  10. tbird says:

    i will confess I have many times not posted a picture of Aprilia doing something fab because of the awful clutter in the background….. and yes, it is dishonest and totally unfair on her! I’m getting more relaxed about this whole not being a perfect prairie muffin though because really, who cares how high the junk piles? it’s our junk and if we want to keep it all so what??? 😉

  11. jax says:

    There are aspects of my days that I don’t feel comfortable sharing because it’s not mine to share, it belongs to one or other of my children.

    And I find that difficult, because often it’s those areas that I could most do with feedback on. but there is the possibility that other ppl could track my blog to real ppl and therefore I have to guard some parts of our privacy.

    But I do agree that censoring out too many of the bad times can be unhelpful, even to ourselves – I read back on my blog to remind myself of times, and the more honesty I used when I was writing the more use it is to me now.

    Thank you for a lovely thoughtful and thought provoking post.

  12. Chrissy says:

    Wonderful post. I would have to agree with everything you said. I know that there are many times that I would day, why can’t I have a day like that? Why can’t we get all that done in a day? etc

    I have also cropped out the mess or moved the image so the clutter cannot be seen.

    Great post!

  13. meorthethoughtofme says:

    So true. I often am frustrated with blogs who only share the good times, or manipulate their pictures and words to present themselves in a better light. I’d much rather read about people going through their struggles as that’s so much more real.

  14. Deb says:

    Arrived here via a link on facebook, having never seen your blog before. Your previous post looked just like an ordinary day to me – good bits, bad bits, busy bits, relaxed bits, fun bits, not-fun bits. And I smiled at your “we’re homeschoolers, how can we have a normal day?” – because yeah, when you home-educate, what you call normal isn’t what other people call normal (but then what the rest of the world does seems very odd indeed to me).

    I think I probably moan enough on my blog that people know life isn’t perfect – but I do get lots of comments on how great my kids are, how much they do, etc – but that’s because they *are* great, and they do indeed do loads. I still moan though 😉

    I love what your friend says about comparing your inside to other people’s outsides – that’s a phrase I’ll have to remember. Might even blog on this subject myself, if I find time and a coherent thought or two.

  15. Valarie Budayr says:

    Hi Sarah, Really a great post. I’ve always appreciated your complete honesty in homeschooling. The most important thing is that you do it and are so committed to it. You made such a valid point about macro views of ones life and micro views of ones life. After all blogging is just a snapshot in one moment or a couple of moments in ones life.
    In your “day in the life” blogpost, it was so fascinating how you blended schooling and living. We do blended schooling here, which is a combination of school and inspired learning. So there are specific teaching/learning times and then there are inspired learning moments where the kids are leading. It was so very informative to see how a homeschooling family puts it all together and creates their successes. I’m so thankful for your honesty while you take this journey with your children. More importantly,thank-you for sharing it all with us. It’s all about being blessed by the people who surround us,clearly you are in such a place. It’s just about being there, in that moment. You do it so well,so very well indeed.!!!!

  16. Rebecca says:

    I suspect that when we (readers) latch on to a blog, we latch on because that blog speaks to us – on many levels. I enjoy your insights in your one tab (Accepting your Mothering Type). I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head — we do try to live up to the image of Ideal Motherhood (or personhood) that we create from many different snippets of the best-face-forward-mother (or person) that we see in those around us. It’s a thought that I’ve had often (especially about my siblings/birth family in relationship to my previous/younger expectations for myself) and I was glad/thankful to see it articulated so thoughtfully and clearly in your post. It was the main reason I decided to follow your blog (as I usually only follow the home schooling blogs of people I know personally).

    When I used “real” in my comment, I was appreciating the fullness and honesty of your post – the completeness of your chronicling of your day – rather than than inclusion of only the very best of everything (which has its place as well!). As you are a blogger who inspires, perhaps what the appreciative comments are simply an online expression of our collective sigh of relief that someone else out there, someone who’s writing we admire online, has days just like the rest of us. I suspect we women do have trouble being nice to ourselves and that might be part of the reason it was reassuring to read about someone else’s “normal”.

    By the way, the braids are adorable!

  17. Angela says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on a topic I’ve been thinking about on and off for a while. A girlfriend and I were just talking about the issue of cleaning up before a playdate – am i trying to be a good hostess and thinking of the comfort of my guest, or am i really focusing on myself – either my fears of being judged or my pride hoping for compliment on my thorough dusting and tidying. What is my motivation?

    I LOVE it when mama bloggers post pictures of their messy houses, baking disasters, crafts they carefully planned that their kids thought were boring. I love it because I connect with those experiences!!

    That being said, I usually keep the negative comments out of most of my blogging – partially because for me, blogging is about reminding myself of the beautiful, joyful things in my life – a way to count my blessings a bit, especially when things can seem very hard, health problems limit my plans, my temper is short, the house is a wreck, the kids and i are on each others’ nerves. I try to keep the negativity out so that I can focus in on the peace and creativity I might otherwise overlook in the often hectic pace of life.

    Thanks again for your perspective.

  18. Brandy says:

    I love your blog, your thoughts and your style of writing. I am a mom of three small kids ages 4, 2, and 5 months. I plan to teach my children at or around home. I hope I can always come around these parts and take away a bit of inspiration. You are very inspiring to me. Thanks for sharing your realness.

  19. Angela says:

    I haven’t read all the comments so someone may have already said this. I have discovered that I feel better when someone blogs a “bad day”. I did notice that you didn’t say your day was good or bad, but just a day. I have come to believe that the feeling better just because someone else struggled is MY PROBLEM, and not really who I want to be as it is a little like laughing when someone falls and is really hurt.

    I try to remember that blogging is a “snapshot” of someone’s day or whatever. Some people share more bad than good but truthfully the blogs that get read a lot have far more beauty, goodness, joy and laughter contained in them. We all know that life is a struggle and blogs have worked wonders for people when they share life’s truly difficult moments and times for that sense of far flung community.

    This is getting long…but I do think that homeschool specific blogs might do a little better at sharing solutions or adjustments to struggles they may have had ie a child who is just not liking to read and a book or idea that helped them like it a little more. Not that they turn into the best reader ever, just a little less struggle. That sort of information would be helpful to me.

  20. SusieM says:

    So good, Sarah. You’ve hit on something very important that seems to flow through mothers’ lives…the insidious comparing we do of ourselves to others and then the self-judging. Time to let go of all that!

    I love your photos, am inspired by them. I love your knitting, have begun to do some of my own, finally! I love your paintings and drawings, I hope to pick up a sketchbook this year, too, because of you. I love the pace in your life that you share with us. I hope to take some things off my plate this year, and make more space for, um, space!

    Thank you…as always.

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