The most ridiculous navel-gazing post ever.

I’m rather nostalgic for the days when only twelve people came to read my daily postings.  Now, sometimes–like today–I feel self-conscious, worried about what people will think of me.  (Especially since some real life people read this now.)  I feel vulnerable when I pull back the curtains and let people have a glimpse inside my house.  If I describe my kitchen full of dinner dishes and abandoned glasses, everyone will know that I’m a slob.  A lazy slob.  If I exclaim that I am so tired, just so weary from my responsibilities here at home, everyone will roll their eyes and wonder just what is so difficult about maintaining a household in alignment with my very low standards of housewifery.

If I tell you about the pile of eighteen books near my desk, everyone will realize that I have pack-rat tendencies (and a lack of adequate bookshelves).  If I talk about my non-existent relationship with my sister who no longer speaks to me, you’ll assume that I am a rotten person, especially since I talk about the estrangement.  (How disloyal of me to speak the truth!)  If I offer details about life with teenage boys (stinky shoes, stinky armpits, repetitive noises, broken beds), you might think that I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent.  (You’d be right.)  If I mention my 4-year old daughter’s impressive ability to write letters . . . on her face, her pajama pants, the wooden arm of the child-sized rocker, her little table in the kitchen, as well as on paper . . . you might think I’m bragging.  Or that I have no control since she won’t stop marking every flat (and not flat) surface with neat little rows of letters.

It’s funny because I’m not really concerned with fitting a certain stereotype.  I don’t care if people think I’m not a picture-perfect pastor’s wife or a holy enough Christian.  It makes no difference to me that the Almas and Eleanors (anonymous commenters of prior days) of the world think I’m judgmental.  I do worry about appearing to be a messy housekeeper with an abnormal level of clutter.  If I knew you were coming by, I’d work myself into a lather putting things away and dusting and washing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees.  But on a daily basis, I don’t want to devote time to bringing my household up to higher standards because that effort is ultimately such a losing battle.  The kids undo what I do almost as quickly as I do it.  (I know.  A better mother than I would make the kids do it.  I told you I have no idea what I’m doing here.)  I just don’t want to work like a slave cleaning and tidying.    

What I want to do is read.  I want to think.  I want to plant flowers–will the ground ever warm up?  I want to be uninterrupted.  I want to enjoy just a day or two of an empty nest.  I wish I could exchange a couple of days of the normal chaos for a couple of future days of quiet.  Alas, time is linear . . . no loop-do-loos, no skipping ahead, no backtracking.  Just today.  And then tomorrow, another today.

I need to shake this self-consciousness.  You can help by pretending that either 1) you are just like me, thus feel no judgment, only empathy or 2) you aren’t reading this blog and won’t look at me cross-eyed when you see me in public.  Also, if you’re going to stop by, give me a few hours’ notice so I can find someplace to stash all these books.

 

 

44 thoughts on “The most ridiculous navel-gazing post ever.

  1. I hear you on this! When I first started blogging, I was free and open with all information relating to my daily life, now, I’m more guarded, second guessing myself when it comes to stories about my kids and my lack of cleaning abilities, afraid my readers will like me less.

    So from me, wanna go book shopping? 😉

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  2. Oh no, not all Eleanors are like that, please don’t tar me with that brush. Just found your blog – have only read top post so far, and felt moved to comment, as one of life’s sadnesses in my book, is that there are so many wonderful books I shall never manage to read. There, now do I sound like that other Eleanor you mentioned? Don’t you dare find someplace to stash your books when I’m coming. As for clutter, see here

    http://paperseaside.blogspot.com/2007/02/9-points.html

    and books, scroll down and you’ll see just one wall in youngest son’s room.
    Oh I’m rambling, but your first paragraph had me thinking here’s a kindred spirit. I’ll stop by later and read a bit more if I may.
    Eleanor (a nice one, honest, home-edding my youngest in the UK)(tripping over books and dirty teenager’s plates, (and teenager’s dirty plates))
    x

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  3. Know what? I love visiting your blog because you don’t pretend to be perfect – you’re human. Oh, and if you come to my house, I’ll polish the rooms you’re invited to see. The office, guest room, and storage areas are strictly off limits!

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  4. I have so many books stacked around that even if I had advance warning of a visitor I would be unable to find spots for them all to hide. My stairs have become shelves – half the stairs are for walking on, the other half for junk to sit on. I could beat you in a slob contest any day 🙂

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  5. “I wish I could exchange a couple of days of the normal chaos for a couple of future days of quiet.”

    You worded that beautifully. I feel that often. Sometimes I envy my single friends just a little. I wouldn’t really want to trade, but I’d kind of like to just for a day or two.

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  6. Mel, I’m just like you, and I’m not pretending. Except that I don’t clean my house as often as I should because I have a bad attitude and look at the mess and figure that since *I* didn’t make it, I sure as heck shouldn’t have to clean it!!!

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  7. You seem pretty real to me. Further, I don’t think there is anything wrong with you discussing your sister. I mean you are honest about it, you don’t publish her name, picture and address and for all that you have pretty strong feelings I think you are actually pretty respectful in the whole deal. As to being judgemental, I guess technically publishing a statement of opinion qualifies anyone who blogs on that. Most people only label someone judgemental if they disagree with the opinion… Ever noticed that. And doesn’t their label of you as judgemental make them judgemental too… Maybe just Mental!

    It is the fact that you are real, genuine, honest and have thoughts worth sharing that make you such a worthwhile read.

    Oh, and I have no kids, and I still need a housekeeper to make it possible to walk through my house… No judgement from me on your housekeeping!

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  8. “I want to be uninterrupted.” Amen!!

    You are not alone. And ever since I became a mom, I’ve really believed that the greatest disservice we do to ourselves and each other is pretend to be perfect. Keeping it real and honest frees us up to really improve (if and when we feel like it) and to be truly likeable. (That’s my two-bits.)

    I just started reading here, but I love what you have to say so far. So, from a new reader – you’re doing great. And my bathrooms are filthy. But do you think I’m going to clean them today? Probably not. 🙂

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  9. I like reading about your clutter because I *am* just like you and can relate. You would be welcome in my home because it sounds like you wouldn’t judge me by the occasional crayon on the wall and crumb-y baseboards.

    And it’s not “misery loves company” at all. It’s probably safe to say that most stay at home moms are the same way, you are just open and honest about it…

    Steph

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  10. I just want to read and think too.

    Some days it feels like I used all my sacrificial mommy stuff up when they were young and didn’t sleep well and were in nappies and terrible twos and we couldn’t get babysitters etc etc and now I feel old and worn out.
    I could cope with cuddling them all day long though…but do teenagers want that?
    No 😦

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  11. I won’t even dust the dust bunnies out of the corners. My books and grandson’s toys are everywhere. Next time you come to Portland, my house is as you find it, every day. It’s a home, and I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks. Same goes for my blog. Someone doesn’t like my honesty? Don’t care for my opinion? Don’t visit. I’m not changing myself just to satisfy the reading public. I had my run-in last year with someone who came behind the scenes to tell me how to write it, who to link to. NEVER AGAIN!!!!!! I have a very dear blog friend who I think is “on hiatus” because of the very same thing. That’s a “no no”, everybody. Anyone ever heard of the Right to Free Speech????

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  12. For what it’s worth, I’m just like you. A messy house, don’t have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to parenting, would rather read than cook ANOTHER meal or clean up yet another stray pair of socks, and I’m a less-than-stellar Christian. I’m not a pastor’s wife, but I AM an elder, so you’d think I’d have figured out some of this righteousness stuff out by now too, but, sigh, I haven’t. If I came to your house, I wouldn’t even notice the clutter.

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  13. I have vowed to garden this year! I have two smallish beds that need help in front of my house but I just suck at that kind of stuff. Please, tell me what I can plant that won’t die easily!

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  14. If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were talking about me. Mel, you are just as normal as the rest of us out here. Quit being so hard on yourself. Same rule applies here, if you’re going to stop by; call first so that I can take the pile of laundry that’s in the hall and throw it into the nearest tub and shut the curtain.

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  15. The only difference between you and every other woman is that you are honest. I am a preacher’s wife and I feel the same way you do many days.

    I love your blog because it is REAL. You are just like ME. It’s nice to know there are others like me out there.

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  16. I LOVE your blog for every reason you are feeling insecure. All of us have messy houses. You should see the dust around here. Even though many people seem to have perfect relationships with their extended families, the reality is different. You don’t speak to your sister, and I cut off 2 sets of cousins over their venomous behavior after the death of our uncle, a Catholic priest! I think it’s healthy to limit contact with people who hurt us.

    You are an excellent writer. There are many blogs out there that list the daily life of a family, but not many that convey the depth of emotion that yours does.

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  17. If i took pictures of my house, you would feel much better about the state of your house, I promise.
    Anyway, I feel very similarly to how you describe. I long to stop cleaning (even though it seems I do enough to just get by right now). I wish for freedom from kids for a few days. I wish that there were no diapers to change, no piles of laundry waiting to be washed, dried, folded, put away, I wish that beautiful furniture would magically appear overnight. But I can’t get away, my 14 month old still needs diapers changed, laundry has to be done, furniture never magically appears … the days carry on, and as they pass I see these children growing and I think that someday I will miss all of this … (although somedays I know I will most certainly not miss this! LOL!) and I guess we just have to plug along, deal with it, not pretend to be anything other than we are and hope for the best. I think you do all of that very well, which mkes those of us who feel the same way feel less like the odd man out and more like a normal human being.

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  18. Who says that so-and-so’s life is any better than yours? I don’t get where anyone has any right to define their life (maybe with a neat house and “perfect” kids) as a more appropriate life than the one you describe on a daily basis. If we could just get over this “I’m better than you” mentality, it really will help everyone out…

    I’d rather have a messy house indicating a life lived than a neat one without any life in it. And if you’re (you meaning any other blogger) one of those who knows how to keep a great house while maintaining a fun family life – good for you! But don’t really tell me. I like thinking everyone is like mine – messy, but lovable none the less.

    Right on, Mel. Write on…

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  19. I love reading your blog because you are honest, even when it pains you to be so. And that kind of makes my feel like I’m visiting a friend when I come to your blog each day.

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  20. OK. That’s it, Mel. We were separated at birth. I am convinced of it! Your description of what you want right now almost matches what I told my husband a few nights ago. I wish the world could just stop for 2-3 days, so I can catch up on everything one day and then spend the other two days actually enjoying my life. Even when I let go of the clutter guilt, I am rushing to and fro and the days just speed by. I feel out of breath most of the time. I am tired.

    The thing I like about reading about your life is that you are so accepting of who you are and you love yourself. That is one area where I can really learn a lot from you. It’s very admirable. Don’t lose that because I think it is part of the reason for your phenomenal success.

    Keep on with the keepin’ on, Mel…

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  21. You sound like my kind of person- I too, have books everywhere, on the stairs, the shelves, the coffee table, the kitchen table, the night stand, the bathroom sink, the entryway, upstairs, downstairs . . .

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  22. Haha! My sister is now known as Bitchsister because when I wasn’t speaking to her, that’s what I called her. You sound perfectly normal to me hon. I don’t even have younger kids at home and I don’t worry about my house. I feel about my blog the same way as I feel about my house. You don’t like it? Fine, don’t come over. I’ve got a chronic illness, a full-time job and a husband who thinks I need to keep up with everything, including where he lost his glasses. No I don’t. I won’t. I’m going to get done working today and go take a nap. He can fix his own dinner. Glad I found your site – it’s a breath of fresh air!

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  23. Ahhh … you sound human, my friend.
    One of my dirty little secrets (not anymore!) is the fact that we haven’t used the table in the kitchen for, oh … maybe 2 years, because I’m currently using it as book storage. My bookshelves are full and I’ve got other books in storage — some are still to be read.

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  24. You sound like the kind of normal I am anyway.

    I’ve enjoyed reading here for about a year now Mel. I have never felt offended by your honest opinions. I have appreciated them.

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  25. I’m here because I like that you don’t edit out things. It helps me to realize that I’m not alone with my pile of clutter and wishes that my children would just stop needing me for a while on some days and my need to process my relationships with some people in my writing. And I also enjoy the way you write it.
    Tanks mel for being honest.

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  26. Mel,
    Not ridiculous navel-gazing at all! Ok, my house is a constant disaster, and now to add to it, I have a newly potty-trained 4-year-old boy who misses the toilet so often! I should clean it all up regularly, but no – I just wait a while until I can’t stand it anymore. I don’t think having small children ‘able’ to go pee on the potty is all it’s cracked up to be. Keep on writing what you’re writing!

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  27. You do realize, don’t you, that the majority of the people that read your blog do so because you are just like us. The ones who think badly of us are really thinking badly of themselves, and just want to take it out on those of us that are happy – and could care less about being perfect. I’m sure this makes no sense – but it does.

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  28. Mel now you know I keep a mostly clean house; mostly. You also know I’m obsessed with cleaning but that doesnt stop me from loving to hear about the nitty grittys of your every day life.

    Believe it or not I can relate. I was raised in a house of 11 people and it was never truly clean. And do you wanna know the truth about me? Sshhhh. Dont tell anyone but I wish I was more like you. I wish I could put up with clutter and the things you describe but you see I’m blessed with a touch of OCD and claustorphobia and I postively cant live in a mess as a result. BUT…let me hasten to add that I walk a fine line between sanity and insanity and some day I may be begging you to come visit me in some remote asylum because I’ve gone off the deep end trying to keep my house clean. Also you do know that I couldnt keep up so last fall I hired a housekeeper. Now we’ll keep that my dirty little secret too.

    I love you. Hugs. You just keep right on being you.

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  29. I, too, feel like I am like you. I have 13 year old twin boys who love to torture the littler kids just like your guys. The noise, arguing, their messes…I would love quiet!! [oops, I misspelled]

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  30. I have a whole lot of things I could write here….

    I totally understand how you were much more comfortable blogging for a small group of moms. So was I! We obviously took different parts of the crossroads on that one. I am comfortable with my choice, and you should be pretty pleased with yours, I would think.

    You have a similar style to when you started out, but you have changed a few things to better suit you and yours, considering your much larger “audience.” I think you have done it just right.

    As for your “standards” and all…You must be pretty sure right now with so many comments on this one, that you are not alone out there…:)

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  31. I’ve told this story before but I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it to you.

    Back when the girls were little, I had just assumed Guardianship, and Public Health was making regular visits, I apologized for the clutter caused by 3 very young girls.

    She said she was far more worried about a house full of children kept in immaculate condition. She wondered what it took to keep it that way.

    I relaxed.

    Given the choice between spending time with the kids (or even with myself once in a while) or scrubbing the baseboards, the baseboards lose every time.

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  32. I posted on something VERY similar on my blog recently. My house looks just like you describe yours, I have the same attitude about it, I have a small-large family (4 kids plus huz) and they and myself are what I’d rather spend my time on than cleaning. The dirt and stuff will still be there after they’re gone, and I’ll clean it up then. You sound like my kinda person, Mel, and if I was coming over, I’d rather you leave the books out. 🙂

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  33. I’m glad to read about it — all of it. I love that you’re honest and don’t pretend you’re something you’re not. And I read Carmen’s blog for the same reason. Looks like I’ll have to check out FG’s now too!

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  34. Thank you for your honesty. We’re all just doing the best we can, aren’t we? Hang in there and don’t feel guilty about wanting to read. Lots of love to you today!

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  35. I read your blog because I think you express yourself well and your opinions are different than mine. Most of the time when you write about a subject of a political or religious nature (take abortion) I disagree with your viewpoint, but it’s interesting for me to read what you have to say. Most likely you will never convince me to think otherwise and vice versa, but I think that’s fine. I can understand why writing a blog would make you feel vulnerable to criticism, but that’s true of any writing, and I gather that’s what you want to do, so I’d just advise that you work on gracefully accepting it as part of your success.

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  36. Just stumbled upon your blog for the first time. It’s very reassuring to know that there are many more mothers out there like me, that don;t want to be enslaved to the dust bunnies and crumb-monsters. I however don’t have a book fetish, but I do read, many many emails daily.
    Good luck with everything, finger-paint smears and all,
    ~*~Jenn~*~

    Like

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