SAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.
If I was the kind of person to make New Year’s resolutions—well, if I was the kind of person to keep New Year’s resolutions—this year, mine would be something along the lines of “Avoid the mommy blog black holes at all costs.” And maybe to cancel my Pinterest account.
This is because, on the day after Christmas, I lost hours of my life going from one mommy blog to another, perusing seemingly endless pictures of beautiful children, perfectly organized houses, well-behaved pets, and immaculately plated family dinners. Every so often, I would look up from my computer and see the landscape of my home—littered with crumpled-up wrapping paper and empty plastic shells that once held toys and inside-out stockings—only to quickly look back down at my computer.
Why couldn’t my life look like the lives online? Why did the tinsel on my Christmas tree come out all clustered and clumpy instead of looking like silvery, retro icicles? Why don’t my kids wear matching pajamas or even agree to smile for the camera? Okay, who am I kidding—why don’t I ever even remember to take pictures of my children until the perfect moment has passed? Why is my life so unpinnable?
So, sure, maybe my visit to this dark place of realizing that my life is far from a sun-dappled, perfectly Instagrammed paradise is a little absurd. I mean, obviously, these blogs are carefully constructed and edited to show the lives of these families in an optimal light. Just like how Facebook profiles – and those newsy holiday letters that people used to send out before we could all keep track of each other online – only ever show people what we want them to see.
And yet, there is still this feeling that I have that my life should be more…photogenic? Is that it? Because that seems like a really shallow thing to care about. But I don’t think that’s what it is. I think it’s much more along the lines of just straight up coveting what these blogs represent, namely, a seemingly carefree existence where mothers have the opportunity to bake all day with their kids and do craft projects and take trips to galleries and go on amazing vacations and and and…it goes on.
My own free time with my children is lived in a decidedly less “artful” fashion than what I see online. It involves homework and room cleaning and errand-running and, well, lots and lots of obligations. I wonder sometimes if I’m doing it wrong, if it’s possible to relearn how to do all of these duty-like parts of life in a way that would make them more fun, or at least more memory-building.
I don’t mean to suggest that I live a drone-like existence with my children, just more that, once I leave the busy hive of work activity that structures most of my week, I have much less time for the kind of activities usually highlighted on parenting lifestyle blogs. I mean, an exciting event for me is noting that this week’s New Yorker is a double issue, thus giving me a chance to catch up on my New Yorker backlogs. By which I mean, I will be only 9 issues behind, instead of 10. It’s the small victories that count.
What I’m trying to say is that I am going to avoid these (manufactured) glimpses into other people’s (constructed) realities, so that I don’t feel like my perfectly lovely, somewhat mundane life is lacking. Life is too good to measure it against some impossible dream. I mean, who really has time to work, raise children, and make their own jam from fruits grown in their backyards? Even if it is possible, I think I’d rather not know. In this case, ignorance is bliss.