Saturday, May 19, 2012

Measuring A Mamas Success.

Description of Photo
Lets go back... back to Tuesday a fortnight ago.

I started the day with a browse through Pinterest, nothing out of the ordinary really. A quick scroll through the DIY, crafting and kids sections whilst sipping my morning cup of tea. After my little fix of pinning goodness, I decided that today would be slightly different to every other day... today would be successful. A creative success. I would go the extra mile as a mama, as a housewife and as an inspired crafter and blogger. Don't ask me what that 'extra mile' entailed, because I really couldn't answer it for you. But I think it had something to do with the illusion of success and fulfillment that is regularly portrayed through my Instagram feed and Pinterest boards. I wanted to have a day as good as the pictures, a day worthy of the 'X- pro II filter'.

So I set out armed with wonderful intentions and an inspiration list as long as my mane. The first? Picture perfect and on trend nails. A peach ombre manicure, it looked easy in the pictures so it shouldn't be that hard to achieve right? Wrong. 40 minutes of nail polish mixing and wobbly painting later I had fingernails that looked like melted lollies. I had nailpolish on the cover of my phone, the kitchen bench and the palms of my hands.

A little deflated, I pushed through to the next task with the ideal outcome in mind; a batch of beautifully baked and iced cupcakes and a freezer full of red wine beef casserole. I got in the kitchen and busied myself with an abundance of bowls, spoons and measuring cups...whilst keeping Stella occupied with a mound of flour to make finger patterns in. With so much 'creative success' trying to be achieved, I may have added a little too much flour to a bowl here or a little too much red wine in a saucepan there, perhaps I was distracted by deciding which Instagram filter best camoflouged the poor quality of my manicure to then post to twitter. Or it could have been that I was busy pleading with Stella not to eat handfuls of flour but to instead experience 'tactile development play', like the positive parenting article I saw on Facebook told me about. Either way, the kitchen was a disaster zone, my baked goods were less than perfect and my stupid manicure was smudged and chipped beyond repair. Creative Success? Not achieved. Parental success? Not as planned. Housewife success? Certainly not.

Not one to give up easily or go down with out a fight, I pushed through and referred back to the inspiration list. Handmade vintage headbands. Shouldn't be too much of a challenge should it? All I need to do is measure, cut and tie my fabric, and then snap some posed photos of my sweet and co-operative toddler modelling the beauties for me. Correct? Incorrect. Toddlers don't like having things on their heads. and my fabric didn't like being cut. My desired outcome wasn't to have a photo of Stella with an ear twisted up in a bow and frayed cotton through her hair and over her face whilst she screwed up her nose at me.

If I can't manage a manicure, a cooking session or a crafting venture... then surely, surely I could manage to get both Stella and I showered and dressed in cuddly, clean, colour co-ordinated PJ's for a snuggly afternoon book reading session? Surely? Surely not. Soap got in the eyes, toothpaste got on the floor, the water ran cold and the towels were MIA. The faded purple pyjama top wouldn't fit over my baby bump and Stellas flannelette's appeared to have something resembling crusty weetbix down the front of them. To top it all off, Stella was so exhausted from the days work of success striving that she insisted on 'nigh nigh' time and ripped up her book for extra emphasis.

Looking around me I saw nothing that could be measured as a success. I could smell burnt cupcakes, I could see nailpolish stains on the bench through the powdery flour haze and I tripped over strips of fabric whilst trying to get to the vacuum cleaner. The very least I could do was tidy this unruly house and make it gleam like a housewives dream.

...Is what I told myself before crashing, asleep on the couch.

All in all, the day was nothing short of disastrous. It wasn't worthy of pinning or posting or even prettying up with an Instagram filter. That night, I was reading through an article I had bookmarked and planned to read earlier in the day. And if only I had stopped. Stopped right after breakfast, right after my morning cup of tea and read it then... Because boy was it an insightful reality check.

"...There's this crazy phenomenon going on right now. Good, devoted mothers get on Pinterest and blogs and Facebook and Twitter. And then they flip through parenting magazines and TV channels and they’re convinced they’re not enough. They’re convinced that everyone else has magnetic, alphabetized spice containers and that unless their garden parties are thematically accessorized with butterfly lanterns...there’s no point in even showing up for the day."

"...I realized that my family doesn’t care about what I see on Pinterest. They care about me. Of course we want to learn, improve, exercise, cook better, make our homes lovelier, and provide beautiful experiences for our children, but at the end of the day, our children don’t want a discouraged, stressed-out mom who is wishing she were someone else.

If you ever find yourself looking in the mirror at a woman who feels badly that she hasn’t yet made flower-shaped soap, please offer her this helpful reminder: “Your children want you!  "
And that is what I needed to hear. Life isn't about what can be pinned or posted. Success can't always be measured in cups or centimetres. Being a good mother, partner and person doesn't necessarily mean a kitchen full of baked goods or a manicure that's totally on-trend. It is about feeling satisfied and happy, about feeling content and fulfilled. About reaching the end of the day and feeling that you achieved what is important to you, whether that be only to make your child smile or to hold your partner tight, it is still an achievement. And one that can bring more fulfillment than any sock bun tutorial on the Internet.

If you ever find yourself looking in the mirror at a woman who feels badly that she hasn't yet made flower shaped soap, please offer this helpful reminder: Your children want you. Your partner wants you. You can just be you.

Plenty of love,
winterlove blog natalie


  1. YES! Thank you! I recently wrote a post about my sons bedroom decor- the photos required serious editing to ensure that only the perfect bits were shown. If only I werent so precious about putting up great photos, the pictures would have also showed the huge pile of unwashed laundry and the toys scattered everywhere, and me, photographing away in my pajamas with coffee spilled on the front that I didn't notice until I was brushing my teeth much later in the evening...

  2. Love this post! I wouldn't even try to attempt all those things in one day. I once tried to do an ombre manicure, it was a disaster and came straight off!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Natalie! You made me smile. Thanks for posting it on the Power of Moms Facebook page!