Being a novelist, I work from home, usually in my pajamas with a cat on my lap and Van Morrison playing in the background. I know- I’m very glamorous. When the tiny black letters on my screen seem like they’re melting together, I know I need a break. Sometimes I take a walk (to the refrigerator). Other times I fold laundry (not really). But, usually, I’ll surf on the Internet for a few minutes where I inevitably find articles written by cheerful, pretty moms wearing flowered capris and pink sweaters tied around their shoulders.
It’s the morbid fascination similar to slowing down to look at an accident that makes me click on those pages. I know what I’m going to get, but I can’t stop myself: How to create my own Thanksgiving Day Mayflower replica centerpiece made from two-thousand tiny twigs plucked from the expertly manicured trees in my yard or maybe someone named Betts will explain the forty-seven easy steps to assembling personalized, embroidered throw pillows that my perfectly well-behaved children would never dream of throwing at each other. If I get really lucky, I might stumble across a self-proclaimed super mom demonstrating how quickly and painlessly she and her seven superior offspring produced sixty-six hand-painted place cards for the sixty-six delightful guests they’re having over for a delicious and nutritious Thanksgiving cage-free, sugar-free, homemade, artificial-free, taste free, cardboard dinner.
I get it- genetically engineered, mammoth vegetables probably aren’t good for us. Sugar makes us fat. And too much sun will be the death of us all. But really? I can’t trot down to HomeGoods with fifteen dollars in my pocket and pick up a cute centerpiece that will last for more than one day? Do I need to spend all my extra time when I’m not writing, blogging, cooking, chauffeuring to playdates and cleaning pony tack learning calligraphy for the formal, sit-down brunches I will never host? Okay- let me stop right there. I am not super mom. And when I’m not writing, blogging, cooking, chauffeuring to playdates and cleaning pony tack, sometimes I like to do, wait for it… nothing. I don’t want to be covered in glitter and cutting out tiny pieces of felt when I’m not busy doing something that absolutely has to get done.
Truth be told, I might have a minor case of sour grapes. I’d love to convert extra toilet paper tubes into Independence Day rockets. It’d be fabulous if I could use a glue gun without cementing my fingers to the table (thank goodness for nail polish remover). My kids would be thrilled if I could stencil a mural in their bedrooms (okay, that one might be a lie). I’d really, really like to be handy enough or talented enough or determined enough to accomplish all the tasks that Perky Piper not only blogs about but also does on a regular basis. But, I’m just not that… that.
While the creators of just about every mommy blog I’ve ever read are making adorable handmade invitations for holiday parties, I’m sending out evites for another Streckerfest Free For All. My idea of fun is not to crack a rib while I stuff myself into a pair of Spanx and then put on my fancy dresses for my fancy friends. For any gathering that happens during warm weather, we fire up the grill and have a barbecue in the backyard. Shoes and nice clothes are not permitted. For Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Super Bowl, we pretend we’re outside and cram as many friends as we can into the gathering room, throw a turkey in the oven or a pot of chili on the stove and eat on ottomans, couches and the floor.
Carefully painted eggs lovingly shaped into the circle of life have no place at our Easter cookout. The only tablecloths I break out on Mother’s Day are cheap plastic ones I throw down so the kids can paint, um, each other without making too much of a mess. Thanksgiving is loud, messy and sooner or later we all lie on the floor and unbutton our jeans to make room for dessert. We’re not fancy people. And at least in the craft department, I most certainly am not a do it yourselfer. But, if Perky Piper and Blogging Betts peered in our window on any given holiday or a random weekend, they’d spy a Streckerfest Free For All in full force- happy messy kids, adults in comfy clothes and all of us spending quality time with the people we love the most. I’m pretty sure my family would take that over a hand-trimmed topiary nativity scene any day of the week.