Friday, July 13, 2012

Things I'm Afraid to Tell You: A Food-Free Post

(If you're here for the food porn, you might want to skip this one.  Also: thanks to everyone who has been faithfully commenting!  Though I am no longer using an interface with Blogger that allows me to "reply" to comments inline, I do try to "respond" via email or comment-in-kind when I can, so please do leave comments that help me to identify you, and your blog, if you have one.)

A while back, the lovely Kristin asked if some of us would be willing to join her in a round of Things I Am Afraid To Tell You (TIAATTY), a movement that has been making its way around the blogosphere in an effort to make bloggers more human, and less "perfect."  I agreed to participate, because I think Kristin is a cool human being for putting herself out there, and I didn't think she should have to do so alone.

And then I began to struggle with what I'd say, because I've already revealed a lot about myself on this blog, and I don't think I portray life as especially perfect or beautiful, as some style or fashion or even mommy blogs do.

On the other hand, I'm also not your run-of-the-mill ALI blog.  In fact, many times I don't feel ALI enough.  And I do make choices about what I post here, partly to protect the privacy of my family, and partly because there's some things that simply don't make for interesting reading.  I realized that the TIAATTY movement isn't just about airing dirty laundry, but about asking ourselves what our blogs really do say about us, and that perhaps it was a useful exercise in self-reflection.

So here they are, Things I'm Afraid To Tell You.

On Stay At Home Motherhood
I am a pretty crappy stay at home mom, most likely because I never wanted to be a stay at home mom when I was growing up, and I still don't want to be one now.  I know I lose myself in my own thoughts when I probably ought to be talking to my daughter.  I look at Facebook and check my email too often (that was true even when I wasn't a stay at home mom; I tell myself that at least I'm doing it on my desktop, so there's that limitation ...).  I am not a patient person.  I lose my temper.  I yell at my kids.  Not often, but enough to feel badly about it.  I know it's not a good response.  It's not my first response, but it's there.  I wish I could channel the patience of my son's Montessori teachers.  I wish I knew how to get my daughter, in particular (because I spent all day with her) to do what I ask her to, or more importantly, not do what I ask her not to, in a way that is more calm and constructive, even the thirtieth time I have to ask.  That calm, meditative, yoga persona I sometimes seem to possess?  She does live here, but not all the time.

On Food
I eat the same thing for lunch pretty much every day, that is, when I actually make something one could call lunch.  I drink coffee for breakfast.  And there are plenty of weeks when nothing new appears on our table.  I feed my children frozen fish sticks at least one night on the weeks when my husband is away.  Food around here is not always a beautiful, fresh and fabulous experience, as it might appear in my camera lens.

On My Personality
On a related note, despite what I try to preach about self-acceptance, and despite the mostly healthy foods I prepare here, I am perpetually obsessed with my weight.  I don't actually weigh myself, because we don't own a scale, but I poke and prod and frown disapprovingly in the mirror.  I would secretly love to be stick-skinny, though I confess I do admire my biceps and shoulders when I'm lifting weights at the Y.  Actually, come to think of it, I am probably a mildly obsessive personality.  I alphabetize my spices, stack my Tupperware just so, rearrange things in the grocery store.

I've had to work hard for everything I have, and despite what I say (and really, believe) about compassion, I confess I have a hard time being compassionate to people who have had everything in life just handed to them, whether it's money, or a job, or anything.  I am also jealous of people who are more successful, or more beautiful, or more well dressed, or more whatever, than I am.  I see people who start businesses, or write novels, or whatever, and hate them a little.  I'm envious of bloggers who come up with thoughtful, imaginative, creative things to say every day.  And then I don't feel good enough to say something, and end up not posting at all. 

Actually, I tend to remember more of the negative things people have said to me or about me than the positive ones, and as a result, I never really feel quite good enough in general; I've spent my life trying to overcompensate for that feeling.  I am ashamed of the fact that as an almost forty year old woman, I haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up, and worried that I'm facing the prospect of starting my career all over again.

For Fun
I don't separate my colors from my whites.  If you did laundry every night, you wouldn't either.  And my son goes to school with socks that look dirty, no matter how clean they are.  Guess what?  Bleach won't help anyway.  And while we're on the subject?  I don't launder my sheets every week.  I throw them in the laundry when I remember, or when one of my kids wets the bed, whichever comes first.  That makes the bedwetting experience a positive one for the whole family, right?  Clean sheets, whooopeee!

I wish I had nicer clothes.  I have a horrible sense of style, and need someone to hold my hand when I go clothes shopping.  I really prefer shapeless dark colored things.  (I worry about going to BlogHer and showing up looking like a complete frump, because I simply don't own anything appropriate.  What do bloggers wear to a blogging conference, anyway?  And what does one wear to a blog party?)  And while we're discussing shopping: I often return things I buy, because I convince myself that I've made a rash and irresponsible purchase.  I also return gifts.  Even when it's something important like, you know, underwear.  (Before I use it, of course.)  I am frugal to a fault.

I don't know if any of that helps to deconstruct any sense you might have had of "perfection" around here, but if it has, I'm glad I did.  After all, I started out "Half Baked" for a reason, and while a lot has changed since then, the fact that this is my space, and that I'm still journeying, hasn't.

 Thank goodness.
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  1. Sorry for my hiatus! Loved reading your post and thank you for your honesty. I kept nodding at nearly everything you wrote, I think we are kindred spirits.

  2. Thank you so much for joining me. I really love this post and the insight it gives me into who you are and what makes you tick. BTW, I think you are pretty damned fabulous.

  3. Do you know that I hated you for years? But then, it's a long established fact that I'm a terrible human being.

    But now that I don't hate you anymore, can I take you shopping? I'm actually very good at playing dress up doll with other people.

  4. This is awesome. Thanks for sharing these!!!

  5. Oooh I like the idea of things I'm afraid to tell you. I think I might do one myself. :)

    We're very similar, actually. Really similar. I'd offer to take you shopping except I'm afraid you'd end up looking like me - comfortable but not necessarily attractive.


  6. Hey, Mama. I recognize many things here. From occasional lapses in patience to quick meal fixes (when I really, really need them) to wishing I had a clue - any clue whatsoever - about clothing. (In my other life, I used to watch What Not To Wear...alas, I internalized nothing).

    You know what, though? I think you're one of the most honest bloggers out there. You don't paint a black and white picture of things. You honor the nuance - and the messiness - of life and motherhood.

    I guess the journey never ends. (Not a bad thing).

  7. PS: SO sorry to hear about the multi-day fever. I hope you're fully recovered.

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  9. Wow! I am impressed by what you shared and like "a field of dreams" said, also feel like we are kindred spirits, as I could relate to so much of it.

    I volley between being proud of my mothering skils and beating myself up for feeling like I am doing things wrong or not as well as I could.

    I eat the same thing for breakfast (peanut butter and honey on a slick of whole grain toast, a bannana and a glass of milk) and lunch (baby carrots, ranch dressing to dip them in, Black Diamond Cheddar cheese and Triscuts or another whole grain cracker, sometimes I switch things up and have a salad, crazy, I know!) almost every day. It works of me.

    I definitely have some form of OCD and can relate to alphabatizing things (like my DVDs and the kids, books, CDs, etc.) All the blinds in various rooms in my house have to be resting at the same level at the bottom or it drives me crazy.

    I would love to go shopping with you! I love to help other people pick out clothes and find what looks great on them! In an alternate life I think it would be fun to be a buyer for a department store. I am not sure what to wear to BlogHer either, but am having fun playing dress up at home in preparation and have bought a few new things to wear. I am sure whatever you wear will be fine and I can't wait to meet you in person! Only 3 weeks to go! :)

    This is a really great post J! Thank you for sharing and writing it so well. So glad you are doing NaBloPoMo with me this month. It has been awesome to see what you are coming up with, even doing a few food-pornless posts. :)

    I wasn't playing to do a Things I'm Afraid to Tell You post, but you and Kristin have me contemplating one. We'll see...

  10. I am not afraid to tell you that I could practically have written this post, right down to the laundry.

    I am not the person to help you with shopping. But if you do find that person, let me know.

  11. Thank you for sharing! I love you even more!!!!!!!

  12. I rarely change sheets either. It happens when I think of it, which isn't rarely.

    If I was doing one of these posts, I'd have to confess how rarely I do any housework at all, but luckily for us all, I'm not.

    For what it's worth, when I met you I thought you were both slender and stylish, in that "skinny people don't have to try too hard because everything looks cool on them" sort of way. You were also very nice and friendly and not intimidating at all, which was a relief.

  13. Wow, so much to respond to on this post! I LOVE honesty, I LOVE putting it all out there and I LOVE realizing that even the darkest things don't seem to dark when they stand in the light of day.

    I've always thought you were an amazing woman but knowing this about you just makes you all the more amazing.

    I'll have to write one of these posts about myself some day. ;)

  14. Crap this was yesterday?! I thought it was next week. Gah! I have to do my own...sorry about that!

    This is awesome.

    You still sound pretty amazing to me! And I have loved your posts this month. You have come up with creative good things to say everyday.

    As for clothes: I'm enjoying reading fashion bloggers and trying to make some trends my own. Almost universally flattering? Pastel skinny jeans :)

  15. You don't know how relieved I am to hear that you don't cook picture-perfect meals every night. YOU are a blogger who makes me feel inadequate, cooking-wise! I'm a reasonable good cook but can't make myself do it lately.

    I relate to so much in this post. I'm envious of people who I perceive as doing really worthwhile things--working in Africa curing malaria and that ilk. I've stopped reading my university's alumni review magazine because I got tired of feeling inadequate every time I read it.

  16. Wait...what are clean sheets? Thanks for sharing! You come across as very wise, put together and zen, so I appreciated learning that you aren't always!

  17. I'm totally there with you on the whole clothing thing. I hate shopping and always wear comfortable. Usually a t shirt and jeans.
    And you just reminded me I need to go change our sheets. I can't remember the last time. Maybe the week before I went away? Hmmm.

  18. I think that admitting that you don't want to be a stay-at-home mom is quite refreshing. I'm not a parent. But sometimes I feel a bit confused when I read parenting blogs - not because they're perfect (in fact, they're often quite purposefully NOT perfect), but because so few women seem to say that they don't want to stay home with their kids all day. It's almost like a new taboo. But maybe I'm just reading into it.

    And I'm still wishing that I were going to BlogHer! And being your roomate! We could be frumpy and socially awkward together.

  19. I know this is literally years too late, but I just stumbled upon it and it's awesome! Thank you for your honesty. I think we have a lot of things in common, like hating being a stay-at-home mom (technically I never was, but did stay for 4-5 months at home with each kid, and 4 months is my limit before I go insane -- yay, daycare!) I also have no style and wear dark pants (often dark wash jeans) and dark tops. I have huge, uhm, mellons, so pastels are not a winner anyway, similar to most accessories.

    I too am envious of people over their successes, a lot. Until I get to know and love them, and then I genuinely start being happy for them.


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