Friday, January 16, 2015

Why Pursue Domestic Excellence?

Blogging has been a welcome and fulfilling new hobby.  Friends and strangers making dinner rolls or éclairs from scratch for the first time in their life while following my directions makes me think I'm making a difference.

Outside of the blog, but as a result of putting my hobbies “out there,” I have been asked to develop recipes for specific needs, to alter neighbors' clothes, and to help friends with sewing and craft projects. 

As a result, my reason for blogging changed from simply a way to share some of what I make, into trying to create a venue for anyone wanting to improve (or find) their domestic abilities to come and learn. And I love the expansive community of bloggers out there that seem to have that same goal in mind. Not everyone had a mom who taught them how to sew and bake—but it's not too late if you want to learn!

Then my bubble was burst (well, at least deflated slightly). I read an opinion article in the NY Post recently, and I've been stewing over it since. So, I am going to address my side of the issue here today.

In the article “Modern Moms Looking for Perfection in all the Wrong Places,” author Karol Markowicz laments the “proliferation of crafting, baking, clothing-making, all photographed to dreamy perfection in perfect light with a perfectly designed (and clean!) home as the backdrop.” She refers to Heather Havrilesky's piece in The New York Times a few weeks prior in which Havrilesky says, “I like violins and knitted tea cozies and themed birthday parties as much as the next Earthling. But before I get to that stuff, I need to clear a path through this dirty laundry so I can get to the dishwasher. I’m hesitant to throw myself into any high-maintenance child-related activity too enthusiastically lest I doom myself to becoming a specialist in an unpaid field that might cut into the time I spend on things like, I don’t know, making a living? Staying in shape? Seeing my friends occasionally?”

Can you see why these opinions were troubling to me? Can a woman seek perfection--or at least excellence--in her home and still have a psyche that is in tact, a body that is fit, and healthy relationships?  I say YES.

I get the point they are making. As mothers (as women!), we put too much pressure on ourselves, then get down when we fail.  This isn't really news, though. We all see an ideal and wish we could have it, but more often than not, fall short. My boys want to shoot hoops as well as LeBron James. Will they ever? No, probably not. I'd like to have a six-pack (on my stomach), an alphabetized pantry, and musical talent (any kind...I'm not picky). These are all things women I know have; I don't. But knowing about them is okay. Working toward having them is okay—even healthy. Why not be grateful for the standards of excellence that are paraded all around us? We should have them in our sights, taped to our bathroom vanities, written on our New Year's Resolution lists—we should be reaching for them!

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not suggesting that the content on my blog is a standard of excellence. It is far, FAR from. But knowing something I wrote inspired someone somewhere to try something new and have a personal victory is a good thing. I never EVER want anyone to feel inferior because I can sew a shirt and they never have. And I believe all the domestic divas out there adding to the “proliferation of crafting, baking and clothing-making” aren't out to make anyone feel down on themselves. If seeing someone else's achievement makes you feel bad about yourself, your problems are deeper than a messed up Mod-podge or sunken soufflé.

To back me up here, I'm going to pull out some real mommy street cred and quote Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!” We encourage our kids to try new things, not to give up when they fail, and to understand that it's okay to not be the best at everything. Maybe as women we need to give ourselves a good pep talk. When we see success in others, let's applaud, take note, learn, and move forward. When we have success ourselves, let's share, teach, and assist. And when we have or see failure, let's pick each other up, decide if it was worth it, and move forward with new understanding.

Excellence is a worthy pursuit. I believe we have an innate need to create, to improve, and to master skills. Let's not sell ourselves short just because it's hard and frustrating sometimes, or because we see others doing it better. We ALL struggle--even the seemingly unreal people with living rooms straight out of House Beautiful and themed birthday parties with homemade tutu party favors and gluten-free fare.

Let's make a conscious decision right here and now to stop what my mom calls "Stinkin' Thinkin'." This includes, but isn't limited to:
  • Comparing our weaknesses to someone else's strengths
  • Downplaying our accomplishments 
  • Giving up when we have a set-back
  • Scoffing at apparent excellence/perfection as fake or unattainable

Now that those are gone from our psyche, replace them with "Positive Perceptions."
  • Using mistakes as springboards for growth
  • Sharing our skills and talents freely and unabashedly
  • Seeking out excellence to emulate
  • Focusing on what is important to us as individuals
So, from now on as you are perusing Pinterest or surfing the blogosphere, think about what an incredible resource we are to each other. No one is excellent at everything.  If we all blogged about our weaknesses and shortcomings, while we would never run out of material to write about, what a stagnant, thwarted world it would be! So let's keep the excellence coming!

Participating in these link-ups.


  1. My husband and I read this together and we both whole-heartedly agree!! I think what you are saying can be applied in the corporate world, too! Let's give it our best, not fear failure and rejoice in each other's strengths!! Way to go, Kelly!

  2. This is a good reminder! To keep on improving yourself We should look for inspiration from other and not putting up road blocks in our way of becoming the best we can! This is great!

  3. Thanks for this post. I do have to make sure that I do my best at home as well as try to do my best in the blogging world.

  4. What a great reminder for me as I stare at the three loads of laundry in my living room floor and wonder how I can't stay on top of it. Thank you!


  5. Absolutely! At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a perfectionist. If you love what you do, then share it with others. You have skills that others don't have and vice versa. Let's not be afraid to hide it all away, but get it out there. If blogging is your way of being creative and sharing, then go for it!

    Thanks for linking up to Marvelous Monday on Smart Party Planning.

  6. Well said! I found myself nodding along all the way.

  7. I so agree with what you have said, so off I go to to be creative, cook and be a mom the best way I know how and when my mistakes come along I'm gonna pick myself up and fight the good fight, I am my worst critic so going to learn to love me a bit more, thanks for your inspirational words, I love following your blog.

  8. There sure is a lot of stress put on mothers these days that is for sure! I know I'm not perfect nor do I strive for it I just make sure I find time for the the things that I truly value and the rest is just extras!

  9. We do need to be "real" in our blogs... it is way too easy to think that everyone else is on top of everything and we aren't... or to pretend we are. What a lot of pressure on us... and others. We are all women, seeking to do the best we can for our families.... and we are all human... it is good to encourage one another and not just "brag". Thank you for the post. :)

  10. Thank you so much for this. I was just thinking this morning that I want to share and help and inspire, but I don't want to come across as an authority. I love learning from other bloggers and it's nice to know that we all kind of feel the same way :)

  11. My favorite blogs are written with self-deprecation and a sense of humor. YES, share your accomplishments, but share the mistakes too. That's how readers learn, and laugh! Thank you for sharing this on Merry Monday! It's a pleasure to have you ~ Julia

  12. Thanks for your words of inspiration. I, too, would never run out of blogging topics if I wrote about my weaknesses :)
    I'm featuring this post at next week's Retro Re-Pin Party on Somebody's Dinner, starting Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. I hope you stop by.

  13. Such a great way of thinking- thank you. And thank you for sharing this with us at Treasure Box Tuesday- pinned! :)

  14. Inspiring. Thanks for linking this up at Totally Terrific Tuesday last week. It is live right now! Can't wait to see what else you have to share! Hope to see you there!


  15. Couldn't agree more! It's hard to balance the "blog beauty" and real life!!!! Thanks for the reminder!

  16. I just realized you had a blog! I love everything you expressed!

  17. Info gleaned from blogs shouldn't make us feel worse about ourselves; they should serve to help us learn and grow - just like books, and who would suggest that beautifully-created books should be trashed, just because the photos included seem to be perfect? Thanks for sharing with us at Friday Frivolity and I hope you join us again next time!

  18. Some of the most wonderful women I know don't bake, have never flipped thru a decorating magazine and don't know the difference between crocheting and knitting. It would never occur to them to clean their house before inviting me over for a cup of coffee, nor apologize for the dust film on their fireplace mantle. They are one hundred percent self-assured, comfortable in their own skin, and believe that I enjoy their company and genuinely appreciate them just the way they are.