I had a meltdown yesterday.
Full-on, bawling-my-face-off, completely-lost-the-plot meltdown.
When I finally pulled myself together, looked around my disaster of a house; the half-made applesauce on the stove, the chicken carcass in the fridge waiting to be made into stock, the empty bread drawer, my mile-long grocery list, the mounds of laundry, my wailing kid – in short – the complete and utter chaos . . .
I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what life is like for other homemakers, homesteaders, full-time parents and the like.
Does everyone else live on the razor’s edge between pure bliss and calamity? Or is it just me?
When things go right on the homestead – ooooh how they go right. The house smells of fresh bread, soup bubbles on the stove, the cookie jar is full, the pantry stocked, the laundry fresh and folded, the child bathed and fed, the chickens happy in the field . . .
When it goes wrong . . .
I certainly would be the first to say I’m a pretty crumby homemaker. I’m handy in the kitchen, but that’s about as far as it goes.
I try hard.
To tell the truth though, on a day like today – pouring rain outside and the house a hot mess – all I want to do is say Screw It, drink coffee and watch hours of PVR’d Real Housewives of New Jersey surrounded by mounds of unfolded laundry.
This morning I headed out to do my chores in the barn, after an epic struggle to fit fat little feet into uncooperative gumboots. I’m supposed to work today – you know, so-called REAL work, PAID work.
Of course, my little man senses my rush and decides it’s time to drive his push car through every puddle on our (very puddly) gravel drive, instead of follow obediently to the barn.
He is thrilled. He squeals Splash! with every puddle, his pant cuffs darkening, sipping puddles like a wick.
Finally, finally we make it to the barn, both of us soaked from puddles and landslide-inducing rain, to feed the animals, check the water, gather eggs . . . I promptly dumped the entire contents of the chicken waterer all over myself and the pole barn.
Ya know, it’s nice to be good at the things that fill your day. But sometimes, that’s just not the way life works.
Let’s face it. It sucks to suck.
In a world of digital one-upmanship, keeping up with the Joneses on Pinterest, sanitized and polished blog posts, prideful displays of domestic prowess on Facebook, and the real-life scrutiny of family and friends, it’s hard to admit that I’m not All-Domestic-Goddess All-The-Time.
It’s easy to look outside your door and think – Well SHE can do it. She keeps a clean house, makes time to do yoga, never yells at her kids and canned every single apple on her trees before the rats got them.
I duno. Maybe some people really are capable of that. Good for them.
I forget my laundry on the line. I start projects before checking if I have all the required components. I burn baking, ALL THE TIME. I sometimes yell at my kid. I’ve never had a year that some of the produce from my garden didn’t go to waste. My attempts at multi-tasking generally result in multiple unfinished chores. I use disposable diapers more often than I’d care to admit and I suffer huge pangs of guilt when I buy bread instead of baking it at home. Most days I’m lucky to get a shower and a brush through my hair.
Sometimes I DO say Screw It and watch hours and hours of Real Housewives.
I want my life to be the way I want my life to be, and I want it right now.
That includes my skill as a mother and wife and farm girl. I want to be able to bake bread, raise children, tend chickens, run a business, keep a household, run the farm, be a good wife, and do it all with confidence and grace.
How’s that go?
If wishes were horses, we’d all ride.
The truth of the matter is this:
We all like to read books and blogs about super-women who are living amazing hand-made lives; raising free-range kids in loving homes, home-schooling while canning all their own food and butchering game they killed themselves while sewing multiple quilts, knitting all their own sweaters, milking the cows and shooting beautiful photography for their nationally-acclaimed food-blog in their immaculately kept home.
You heard it here, first, folks :
She doesn’t exist.
Every homesteading / homemaking / stay-at-home-mothering woman out there I am lucky enough to know is learning as she goes; teaching herself, teaching her children. There is a beauty in that.
Yes, I had a meltdown yesterday. Yes, I was momentarily convinced that my life is a complete failure. Yes, I lost my cool with my kid. Yes, the thought of adding to our family while maintaining this lifestyle makes me want to throw up. Yes, my house is a mess. Yes, I secretly wish I was some version of Martha Stewart meets Naomi Klein meets Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I wish we would be more accepting of telling the truth about our lives instead of the fairytales we cling to in our dark moments. We all have them, but maybe we’d all feel braver, more confident, bold, if we shared our failures with the same pride of ownership that we share our success.
As women we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed feminism to be co-opted . . . Instead of raising us up and freeing us from our chains, we’ve internalized those chains with ridiculous expectations, guilt, self-doubt. I often thinK about the experiences I have missed out on, things that I didn’t try because I didn’t think I could do them perfectly, or because I thought my body would look wrong doing them. Instead of try and fail, I have failed to try at all.
I don’t want to model that for my kids.
I hate failing, don’t get me wrong. But writing this post brought one of my favourite Joel Salatin quotes to mind: