destroying the illusion

It makes me smile sometimes when other people on the Interwebs seem to be all up inside my brain and post things that I’ve been thinking about lately too. Both Nilsa and Ashley wrote recently about the smokescreen that blogging gives us- the ability to completely control what people know and see about us. We can filter out the less than ideal stuff and only show the shiny, happy things. Which is FINE, obviously. It’s more fun to read and see that stuff sometimes, you know? But… it’s not the Total Truth, we all know that.

Life is not perfect. Nobody’s is.

Several times in recent months I’ve had people (in real life and online) comment about how I “have it all together!” And dude. I just LAUGH. Oh how that is so not true. I do NOT have it all together. I do NOT and CANNOT do it all. Sometimes I can’t even do a LITTLE BIT! And after looking at my blog for a little bit, I realized that… maybe it seems that I do, sometimes? I post a lot of cute pictures of my girls, before and after shots of house projects, and tell funny stories about things Maggie says. Happy! Fun! Perfection!

What you don’t see? The snot I wiped from the baby’s nose before taking that picture. The pile of junk mail that the kids were playing with and had strewn all over the playroom I moved out of the way before getting out my camera. The many colorful and offensive words I said while trying to get that fabric to fold just right you mother-BEEPING-STUPID-THING. The attitude Maggie gave me 5 minutes before the funny thing she said, and the attitude I gave her right back even though I know it’s not mature and I’m the parent so I should know better but OMGKIDYOUAREKILLINGME.

So, you know. I put a filter up here, I guess. And maybe that’s a bad thing? I don’t know. Sometimes when the sucky stuff happens, it’s just annoying to have to RE-LIVE it all again as a blog post. If you don’t write about it, maybe it never happened?

Anyway. Trust me. My life is NOT perfect. My life is AWESOME! And FULL! And very very BLESSED! But not perfect. I am not perfect. I am, some days, barely hanging on and I feel like I just want to crawl into bed and sleep there and ignore The World. But I can’t. There are kids to be dressed and fed and work to be done and dishes to clean and meals to cook and shopping to do and tummies to tickle and and AND. In the rare moment when I AM SO ON TOP OF IT ALL, I feel like I am Winning At Life.

For like 10 minutes.

Then someone spills their milk or smears poop down their leg.

So, in the interest of full disclosure, here are some things (just a few, because Lord knows this list could go on forever) that make me less than perfect. But they make me real.

I don’t always remember to make Maggie brush her teeth. uh… here, chew some gum instead.

I don’t sweep our floors as often as I should. They are often very very crunchy, and not in the positive-hippy-speak kind of way.

I don’t usually get laundry put away in a timely fashion. This morning I was digging through a basket of clean laundry to find something to wear to work. A laundry basket that has been sitting there since… Friday night. But! It WAS clean!

I often lose patience with the girls and I don’t use my nice, kind, Mommy Voice all the time. Ahem. I’ve been known to slam a door or two in frustration.

I don’t say yes to Dan nearly enough (if you know what I mean).

I don’t play with my kids as much as I’d like to. There are always Things That Need Doing and I am bad about ignoring those things. A constant internal battle.

I don’t usually make Maggie eat foods she doesn’t like. This means she eats chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for a lot of meals. Or cheese quesadillas. Basically, she’s made up of about 95% cheese. I’ve thrown in the towel on the food battles for the most part, it’s just not worth the drama anymore.

I don’t buy a lot of organic food, simply because it enrages me that it’s so much more expensive than regular food. Consider it my mini-protest against The Establishment or whatever.

I should change our sheets more often than I do.

I don’t hand-make my kids’ clothing or Halloween costumes. I don’t sew. Maybe a button back on a shirt? I buy things from stores, and I’m totally cool with it.

I don’t always feel like cooking dinner so we order pizza or one of us picks something up on the way home from work. Usually something involving a combo meal and waffle fries.

I am awful at couponing. The idea is wonderful! But in theory, I don’t need to save 25 cents on four 6-packs of yogurt that will expire before we eat them all. That’s like… well, I suck at math too, but it’s like PENNIES per container of yogurt. NOT WORTH THE EFFORT.

I am happy that I work and I don’t feel bad about sending my kids to daycare. Part of that is obviously because I don’t do it every day (just 3 days a week) so I know that makes it much easier on all of us. But I really think it’s good for them and it’s good for me. I like my job and they get to hang with their friends and get used to other people wiping their bums. Win win! It works for us.

I start way too many projects.

I pay someone to clean my house for me, every 2 weeks. Best decision ever. (I do mini-cleanings in between, obviously, because we would be buried in goldfish cracker crumbs if I didn’t.) DELEGATION, MY FRIENDS.

I let Maggie and Audrey (yes, the baby!) watch tv pretty much when they want to (or rather, when Maggie wants to. Audrey just kind of goes along with it and chews on the remote.) They get PLENTY of non-electronic stimulation at school and playing outside and playing with each other… sometimes you just NEED some brain downtime, you know? Bring on Word World and Elmo, I say. Mommy needs to do the dishes IN PEACE.

So… what are your deep, dark secrets? :)


  1. TwinMamaTeb

    November 2, 2011 11:03 pm

    You are too cute.

  2. Jennifer

    November 2, 2011 11:06 pm

    Pretty much all of the above. Especially putting away the laundry and the crunchy floors.

  3. Elsha

    November 2, 2011 11:34 pm

    I am with you on so many of these! And while I am sure that I filter somewhat, I try to present a “real” picture of my life. I try not to spend too much time with the negative aspects though, because I find the more I think/blog about that stuff, the more negative I feel all the time.

    • Jen

      November 2, 2011 11:37 pm

      Exactly! It’s not that I try to put up a facade (I am not afraid to keep it real! heh) but really, who wants to hear the 10,000th lame story about how I didn’t sweep the floors AGAIN and my kid made me mad AGAIN and blahblahblah. Plus, like you said- once that crappy stuff is over, I don’t want to think about it.

      • Cari

        November 4, 2011 12:14 pm

        All of this plus there is always some jerk on the internet who will come along and say “you think you had a bad day? Well if that’s all you have to complain about you should shut up, there are starving people in Africa.”

        Which is all true but doesn’t help when you’re having a Bad Mother Moment.

  4. Amanda

    November 3, 2011 12:02 am

    I think all of those secrets just made me like you even more. And yes, I’ve definitely felt the twinge of thinking that everyone else has their lives together while I am clearly a mess, so its nice to see people opening up and showing a little non-perfection too.

  5. Dee Wilcox

    November 3, 2011 12:09 am

    Yes, this, in so many ways. My blog is definitely filtered, because man, who wants to read about how I happily toss cheddar bunnies out of Mackenzie’s car seat onto the ground? And not a trash can. Wait, what? We have to feed the animals, right?

    Also? I NEED a housekeeper. And sweep often but am constantly battling DOG hair. Gah. So gross. And I like working, too. I think daycare has been good for us, too.

  6. HereWeGoAJen

    November 3, 2011 6:40 am

    Only the stories that are somewhat interesting make it up on the website. So I’ve always said that people only see the highs and the lows.

  7. Tracy

    November 3, 2011 7:54 am

    Oh totally with you on most of these. *tv, yeah my kids watch it. Dont say yes enough to the hubs, I am all there. I wish I could pay someone to clean my house but student loans dictate no. I work from home too and the day my kids go to daycare is BLISS. Projects rule our house…bathroom still not done. Kids drive me nuts on a daily basis. Running around half naked happens a lot here. Floors swept and mopped all the time, ha for the birds I tell ya!* And so much more….
    BUT the ups, downs, lefts, rights, wrongs, ect I would not change it. I may complain a bit on twitter about things, but I love my life too. Craziness and all.

  8. Allison

    November 3, 2011 9:02 am

    I have to tell you, this just made me really happy. I think we all have this issue where we look at other families and think, “wow! They really have things going WELL!” But in reality? EVERYONE struggles. No one is perfect.

    Zach is trying to convince me to get a cleaning service every other week. While part of me is all, “YEAH! LET’S DO IT!” the other part is still concerned about the money. And yeah, I don’t say yes nearly enough either (I know what you mean).

    Coupons? HAHAHAHA. What a joke. I see them and laugh because a) we don’t eat most of that crap anyway and b) 50 cents? That’s supposed to make me want to spend time cutting, remembering to bring, and handing to the cashier? Sorry, my time is worth WAY more than that coupon. I’d rather spend my time attempting to not yell at my kid who is being a jerk.

  9. Hillary

    November 3, 2011 9:07 am

    Every time I hear one of you … or my friends here … say they hire someone to clean their house, I think, “I SHOULD DO THAT!” But I never do. Maybe that’ll be my Christmas present to myself.

  10. j grumblies

    November 3, 2011 9:29 am

    Blogging has so many interesting side effects, one being the curtain you talked about. (another being that people think they “know” you so well, but this is only a little tiny piece of us, but that’s another topic entirely) Maybe it’s because I’m a blogger too but I don’t really notice the only-the-perfect thing too much anymore. We’re all secretly human. Ok, or maybe I just stopped reading all those nicey-nice blogs for the most part. Too unreal.

    (I am with you on the non-organic food buying. I would LOVE to buy all organic foods. Dude. That shit is expensive. I am sorry but no. I do what I can which isn’t much and GAH ER ARG.)

  11. Tiffany Evans

    November 3, 2011 10:11 am

    This has to be one of my most favorite posts of your ever because it makes you sound just like me!

  12. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks

    November 3, 2011 10:30 am

    OMG, Jen, I love your list. It reminded me of even more things I don’t do. I don’t change our sheets nearly enough, either (thank goodness for the cleaning lady who changes them for us every 2 weeks). I don’t do mini-cleanings between our cleaning lady visits (unless you count wiping down the counters after I prepare raw meat or smear peanut butter all over them!). We don’t put away our laundry nearly enough – we rarely see the top of our dresser, because it’s under piles of folded clothes. I don’t regret sending Gavin to daycare and feel there are some advantages to having a child in someone else’s care (but, of course, there are advantages to having the kids at home, too – pipe down, people!).

  13. Ashley

    November 3, 2011 11:07 am

    I think I love you for this post.

    I never really thought about the mask blogging gives us.

  14. Sarah

    November 3, 2011 11:40 am

    AH, friend! you are so fabulous. We all need to hear that we are not the only ones dealing with all these struggles. I’m right there with you on a lot of those…but can I tell you how it bad it is that I had to let go of our cleaning service because we saw they were going throught our stuff, like our BANK ACCOUNT stuff!! I think I’ll find someone else once I get some locking file drawers! Thankfully, no harm done. Except now I’m trying to keep up the cleaning on top of the other stuff, which isn’t exactly happening. I caved and got a Roomba and run it during nap time, which does help somewhat with the crunchy floors, but then I’m still supposed to mop….

    I’m so thankful for grace–recently memorized Romans 8:1-2 and it pops up in my head now to remind me that my “to-do” list was nailed to the cross; I can let go of guilt for all that’s left undone!

  15. Erica

    November 3, 2011 12:39 pm

    Agreed on almost every single one. Especially bless the TV and coupons WTF. Seriously coupons, why? I am a person who buys the things on sale on the store value card or whatever and then I look proudly at my savings % at the bottom of the receipt. Much of that is from savings on wine but at LEAST IT’S SAVINGS OKAY? And housekeepers are the BEST. I tell that to everyone who will listen. We are extra super lucky because ours does all our laundry and puts it away so I don’t have that laundry basket problem.
    Way to break it down.

  16. Laura

    November 3, 2011 12:47 pm

    Yep. All of these. Except for the cleaning service, which I think is even worse because (right now especially) my house is NEVER clean. Yay me!

  17. red pen mama

    November 3, 2011 1:22 pm

    All of the above, plus more. And, of course, no one has said to me, “You’ve got it all together.” HA! I let it all hang out on my site.

    I love that Winning At Life feeling, even when it’s fleeting, maybe because it’s fleeting. Sometimes, those moments, those are the ones we live for. And, because we do realize we are blessed a thousand times over, we just let them go when they have to go. And order pizza for dinner. ;)

  18. TwoAdults

    November 3, 2011 3:22 pm

    You are fabulous.

    My not-so-secret-secrets: We eat out A LOT. I am sometimes snappy. T could probably use some more kisses. I rarely use or follow a budget. I have told Ezra that some tv characters are “napping” simply because I can’t handle them.

  19. Elisabeth

    November 3, 2011 4:18 pm

    I think I’m going to hire a maid to come clean my house every couple weeks here soon, too. This pregnancy is kicking my butt.

    I filter a lot out on my blog too. I definitely don’t have it together either. But I like to remember the good things, not the bad and I quickly forget whatever I don’t record :)

  20. the ambitious mrs

    November 3, 2011 4:30 pm

    I am so with you on pretty much all of these. I have my own list of weaknesses too. I disappointment myself with my short temper all the time. I guess lately I chose not to blog at all rather then share that kind of thing. It’s hard when I know my Grandmother reads my blog and I don’t want to upset/disappoint/worry her.

  21. Amy

    November 3, 2011 8:31 pm

    I love your deep dark secret list, I can relate to almost all of them, and the ones I can’t, I am sure I will once my daughter is a little older. I too have crunchy floors, I am super anti-coupons (my husband loves them), and really need to change my sheets more. I am also a new follower of your blog. I am from the Pittsburgh area too, and enjoy reading blogs of other moms in the area.

  22. Julie

    November 3, 2011 9:55 pm

    That is awesome. And I share at least 90% of that list.

  23. Dave (Scrumpy Daddy)

    November 3, 2011 11:02 pm

    I’m with you on this, ALL THE WAY. I was reading along your list, going, “yep. yep. Yep. yep. yep, do that, too…” heh! :-)

    I suppose we should all post some of these things at least from time to time, because I think we all need the validation that IT’S NOT JUST US that does these things! We share in the frustrations and the tv watching and too-expensive eating of food that some chain cooked for us…and all that.

    Yep. :-)

  24. Lea

    November 4, 2011 1:05 am

    You know, two years ago, I maybe would have scoffed about what you said about not feeling bad about putting your kids in daycare, but this past year has brought so many changing dynamics into my stay at home mom life that now I TOTALLY understand. Asher is in preschool three mornings a week, and I don’t know what I would do without it – it’s a blessing for everyone. I have found myself not blogging as much lately because I feel like such a whiner lately because things have been rough – and I also just want to move on and leave it in the past. But I did just do a post about how bad last week was, so maybe that’s kind of my version of this. I loved reading all your “confessions.” Just love your blog in general!

  25. Melissa

    November 6, 2011 6:52 pm

    I think a lot of the reason people might think you “have it together” is just your nature and the way you handle the not-so-fun stuff, because you are easy-going and you can still laugh about it (at least afterward ;). Which is great! And you’re down-to-earth and HAPPY with your life, overall, and it shows in your writing. That makes a big difference in how people “see” you.

    I never talked much about the nitty-gritty stuff on my own blog, because I way sort-of… brought up that way, I guess. Nothing to do with being ashamed or trying to appear perfect, just something we didn’t bring up to others because we figured they had problems, too, and why talk about that stuff if there were nicer things to talk about? That’s how my parents are, and how I am now. But if someone else brings up crumbs on the floor or losing their temper with kids, I have no hesitation in discussing it though, because I it really IS nice to know you’re not the only one whose life isn’t perfect. :)

  26. Stefanie

    November 7, 2011 3:26 pm

    Amen, girl! I hope people are realistic enough to realize what truly goes on behind the scenes!
    I don’t bring up the negative things very often on my blog, because I don’t think people want to dwell on it!

  27. Ashley // Our Little Apartment

    November 10, 2011 8:41 am

    There are so many things to feel guilty about and balls to juggle when you’re married, have kids, AND have a business…sometimes you gotta say no to someone. ;) As long as it’s not my husband all the time, I figure we’re good. LOL.

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