Have I mentioned that I feel like I’m having a bit of a mid-life crisis? Yeah. Maybe it’s the change of weather, maybe it’s Daylight Savings Time, maybe it’s the crazy stressful two weeks of work. I feel poor and boring and a little bit unloved and feeling like maybe my life is somehow wasted? I find myself on one hand really wanting to have kids, but also having anxiety attacks when I consider it too intensely. I want to go to Europe a lot and have health insurance again, but I really, really don’t like the idea of going back to regular full-time work. I want to be thin and shapely but I really love food and the not exercising. I want to have a well-organized craft area, but I also want to buy yarn whenever I please. I have terrible house envy every time I go to most of my friends’ houses or condos but I want the freedom to go see the world for months on end whenever I want without worrying about a mortgage. I want to have lots of fabulous friends (and I do, actually) but I have the hardest time picking up the phone and talking to people lately. And last but certainly not least I seem to be having some serious problems with envy. I look at most of my friends with their nice homes and pretty clothes and nice bicycles and vacations and my mental three year old takes over my brain and induces serious pouting and metal muttering “Why do they get to have all the good stuff? Why don’t I get to have nice things?”*
So here I am in my funk and if you read all of that you probably think me crazy or pitiful. It’s okay if you want to judge me. No, seriously, allow me to redeem myself a little. Do you read Seriously So Blessed? It’s a satire of “Mormon Housewife Blogs” . The blogs in question are chock full of gorgeous crafts and happy family moments, and they range from the hipster to the saccharine (the two not being mutually exclusive.) They are enough to make the sane and balanced feel schlumpy and disorganized and poor and wrong. I have to constantly remind myself that while these women may enjoy raising children and vintage cupcake toppers just as much as they seem to, these blogs are a compilation of their happy moments, and are not journalism.
Much has been said of the pressure that many, if not most, women (maybe especially Mormon women) feel to conform to some imaginary standard that we can’t necessarily define, but all the same know we’re not meeting. I had one of those epiphanies for myself reading this interview with the creator of Seriously So Blessed. I have to admit I read the interview wondering whether or not she’d address the complaint I’ve been hearing lately that the blog went from clever to mean a while ago. She didn’t address that, but this passage from the interview really struck me:
In any highly homogeneous culture we all feel pressure to be and look and think and act a certain way. Many Mormon women are hard on themselves because they’re good and want to be good and in our culture we do a lot of self-reflection and introspection on how we can improve. Part of being a member of the Church and part of being a person of faith and a follower of Christ is always thinking of how you can get better. With a lot of young American Mormon women that quest can get out of hand quickly. You start to think you need to be absolutely perfect in every area. You need to be having nonstop fun all the time, your marriage needs to be perfect, your kids need to be perfect, and you need to have to have pictures of every activity. I get emails from readers saying that there’s this unattainable standard that they see people around them portraying (or seeming to portray) and that the blog helps them realize that nobody’s perfect and it sounds ridiculous if you make things seem perfect all the time.
So that made me feel a little bit better. I’m still first paragraph crazy, but the part about how we feel like we not only need to have the “perfect” families and homes and scrapbooks, but how we feel like we should be having fun all of the time, really struck me. I could probably do with a little more fun, but it’s okay if I’m not out with girlfriends shopping at Anthropolgie and eating Cafe Rio every night.
Besides, Cafe Rio is too heavy. Makes me feel gross.
* For the record, I’m a nice Mormon girl and I know that “the cure for envy is gratitude” but it’s not always that easy. Did I mention that I’m in a funk? A funk, people!