Sunday Confessional 9/20

Heather says:

Some weeks it feels like I have a lot more to own up to than others. I don’t know if it was the husband working night shift, being completely off track with my own sleep schedule, a stupid head cold, or just plain old emotional upheaval that made me feel and act just this side of useless. So yeah, this week’s menu? I had a menu? Pre-written posts for next week while I’m a conference? Ha! Cranky with the kids? You bet!

This is a hard feeling to articulate, so brace yourselves for a massive flub and know that the last thing I want to do is sound snotty.

Nothing makes me feel more like a fraud than hearing someone say, “I don’t know how you do it.”

While the people who say this always mean well it makes me question the image I project. One of my big goals with this site is to provide a place that helps people muddle through, because really in some areas in life that’s all anyone can do. I know, I know, it’s not the bullshit glossy magazine headline screeching at us in the checkout line, You Can Have It All!

I lost a friend, a young mother, to suicide almost two years ago and my heart hurts whenever I wonder where she felt she failed. From the outside, she looked like she had everything a lovely home, a handsome husband, a beautiful little girl, and a baby on the way.

More recently I nearly lost another friend who covered up her feelings of inadequacy through addiction.

So what am I saying? Call me on it if I sound pretentious, but know there are a few places I won’t budge. Ask questions secure in the knowledge that I won’t think you’re stupid.

This sounds like a silly example, but it’s the only thing coming to mind at the moment. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I simply have neither the eye nor the drive to decorate. We’ve been in this house for more than 5 years and the walls are still bare. I have window treatments that were here when we moved in and I’ve come to loathe them. We’re now reaching the point where everything needs repainting. Without some help, things are probably going to stay that way for another 5 years.

I have a wonderful friend, she single handedly had her house decorated within 3 weeks of moving in. She probably could have decorated my home in the time it took me to pick my jaw up off the floor.Β Will my house ever be as amazing as hers? No, but I can make sure at the very least my home is clean and comfortable, if a bit spartan.

The same idea applies in the kitchen. If you hate to cook, that’s fine, no one is going to hold your feet to the fire and insist on gourmet meals every night of the week. However, there are basic skills to master that will ensure the food prepared is nutritious, budget conscious, and edible. If you have children there is an additional responsibility to provide variety to help ensure a child grows into an adult with a mature and healthy palate. You don’t have to like doing it and if you’re lucky you’ll marry someone who will enjoy the task, but there are times where you’ll just have to suck it up and do it.

I embrace a somewhat snarky tone here because let’s face it, it’s home economics. It’s never going to be the most riveting of material, but it’s an area where everyone needs at least a basic understanding, so we might as well have fun.

At some point in our lives if we live around other humans or have pets we’re going to face a mess so heinous we have too fight our own gag reflex as we wonder how to deal. What do you do then? You laugh, because otherwise we cry and feel sorry for ourselves. Β Life presents us with situations that are out of our control, how we choose to react is our choice. I am choosing to laugh when possible and I invite you to do the same.

Submitted to What I Learned This Week on 9/22/2009.


  1. corie on September 27, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you so much for this! The other posts are so helpful but this was the best!

  2. julie on September 25, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    great post about the "oven temp" discussion-the hubby is always telling me the same thing-but then I don't bake alot of things that have to be done only at a certain temp or it will flop LOL mainly just dinner type dishes……guess I'm kinda impatient LOL…..


  3. Trixie on September 24, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Very thought provoking post, thanks! It's heartbreaking to see the number of women (and probably men, too) that feel like the just don't measure up. What on earth are we all trying to measure up to anyway? Each other?! Sometimes life is remarkably hard and the only thing we might be able to manage is to get through the day hanging on by our fingernails. There's no shame in admitting that. Chances are good the person you admit this too, is feeling or has felt overwhelmed to!


  4. The Mommy on September 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I feel like a fraud when people say that too!! I usually just smile.

  5. janmary on September 23, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Love a post that keeps it real! Thanks.

  6. julie on September 22, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    great post—oh and love the "snarkiness" LOL–My husband works the night shift alot-his shift actually rotates ever 3 months but he stays on the night shift sometimes for like 1/2 a year—it is definately something to get used to—-


  7. Diaper Cake Becca on September 22, 2009 at 2:53 am

    I feel so much better reading everyone else's replies…..none of us are perfect (big sigh of relief). Okay….must run as dinner is burning!

  8. Carol Shive Mirek on September 22, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Great post, and thank you for all you do, and don't do that you share with us.

  9. Margo on September 22, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Every now and then your remind me of why it is I adore you so. So well written and relevant to all of our lives!

  10. Jane on September 21, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Boy, was this post well-timed~ looks like it resonated with a lot of people, and we're all glad you're NOT perfect, because then we can give ourselves permission to be imperfect, too.
    I have tortured myself for years that I'm not as good a mother as mine was, (understand, I grew up with Harriet Nelson!) and I realized that she had the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom (which I don't have) so of course, her floors were spotless, dinners were planned, and clutter was non-existent. I realized I was trying to do two full-time jobs and doing neither one very well. So now I am learning that my definition of a 'good mom' is different than in my mother's day, and I'm a little healthier for it.

    Again, thanks for the self-disclosure and helping the rest of us feel that maybe we're doing okay, too!

    • Deanna on September 22, 2009 at 1:14 am

      There is hope for me afterall then Jane. I only pray that my kids will only remember the fact that my floors are spotless dinners are planned and clutter is non-existant, because honestly that seems to be the only area that I seem to get right. My biggest worry is about the memory my kids will have of me. Will they remember the clean floors and organized meals and home or will they remember my impatience because they can never find their darned shoes in the morning (like this morning, for instance, when I was also informed by my 8 year old that I hid her shoes from her because I don't love her…interesting). I'm going to choose today to allow myself to rest on the probable hope that they will remember mostly the positive.

  11. Becca Tuck White on September 21, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I am so on board with this post. ALL OF IT. I do it all because the boys' mom doesn't pay a lick of child support and it makes me angry and I feel guilty for feeling angry at their mom. I do it all because my step-mom role makes me crazy sometimes and I feel like I am SUPPOSED to be perfect….so no one doubts my place in their marriage, family, situation. I do it all so that from the outside, at least, my world will look peaceful and organized. I assure you that inside my head….it ain't so peaceful and organized.

    Its an illusion. When someone says "How do you do it all?" to me…it makes me feel kind of lonely.

    (I feel a lot better for having gotten that out. Thank you Home-Ec101!!!)

  12. JRae on September 21, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Heather you're great, and the "snarky" tone is definitely one of the things that makes this site enjoyable as well as informative to read and keeps me coming back for more!

    And I know how you do it all- with knowledge, a good attitude, and hard work! πŸ˜‰

  13. CharlestonAnon on September 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    What a good post. I experience this all the time, i have an extremely demanding job with long hours and frequent travel. People at work are always telling me how i have it all together but they don't realize that sometimes at home i am stepping on a pile of dirty clothes rather than a bathmat when i get out of the shower. Sometimes this makes me feel like a huge fraud!

  14. tinkerschnitzel on September 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I'm having one of those months myself. Maybe it's because my newborn just turned 3 months old or the fact that we've had 2 days of sun in the last week of torential rain or the fact that I don't own any clothes I really like anymore and just realized it – after spending close to $100 on clothing a month after I had the baby. On the bright side: my baby is smiling and cooing at me, the grass is green and flowers are blooming again, and my birthday is less than a week away, so I can possibly get more clothes! πŸ˜€

  15. Single Maria on September 21, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Thanks for the post.. After reading your article I realized that I am not the only one of such kind. I hope we will manage to do everything right!!!

  16. Debbie on September 21, 2009 at 2:30 am

    great post Heather, thank you so much. πŸ™‚
    we never, ever know what is going on in someone else's head or heart, and it's refreshing to have a reminder that life is just plain MESSY and we are all doing the very best we can.
    Debbie (who is still rockin a mean meatloaf after you took me step by step over 2 years ago!!)

  17. Judith on September 21, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Please give our love to Ivy and assure her of our prayers.

  18. Judith on September 21, 2009 at 1:35 am

    Attitude, forgiveness, and grace is good stuff, girl.
    So what if we sometimes get snarky with the kids …….. they know we love them. We laugh with them, too.
    Sometimes the house is a wreck. Sometimes we have it together. Sometimes we cook only because the kids would go hungry otherwise. Sometimes we put the little yellow flowers the kids have picked for us in a jar and place it on the kitchen table and all is beauty. Grace indeed.
    Keep up the good work of being/becoming a good person with us all.

  19. sara on September 21, 2009 at 12:08 am

    This blog is so well rounded that you also ocassionally touch on the emotional aspects of homekeeping! Thanks for being honest – it is so refreshing.

  20. Marianne on September 20, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Today's been a rough day for me, and this is just what I needed to hear. Sometimes I get so paralyzed by depression or so overwhelmed by the myriad of things I should be doing that I do nothing. I know in my head that doing something is better than doing nothing, but honestly it's a real struggle sometimes. I'm going to go do one load of laundry, and I'm going to call that a victory. Thanks for writing this, Heather.

  21. Tara on September 20, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I have been neglectful of my home for the last 2 months, cleaning in bursts when I feel up to it, but mostly spending a lot of time laying down with a heating pad on my jaw or asleep. I'm absolutely mortified of how things look, but don't have the energy to fix it and can't imagine asking for help from my friends who are all busy and consumed in keeping themselves afloat. I guess what I should do is just look at the bright side (I have a house that I can neglect, I don't live on the street, and I have a good job and wonderful friends) and then just go do a little bit to make things better. I don't have to take it from atrocious to beautiful in one day. Right? Thanks, Heather, for bringing it out in the open and giving me a reality check. I needed it.

    • Tara on September 21, 2009 at 4:22 am

      After typing this I got up and spent an hour cleaning. (I set the timer.) It's better than it was, although no where near where it needs to be. But, if I hadn't read this post today and owned up to my feelings, that hour would not have been spent cleaning, I'm sure. Thanks again, Heather.

      • Jeaan on September 22, 2009 at 1:20 am

        I just had twins Saturday. Toward the end of the pregnancy I couldn't clean and it was embarassing. I finally sucked it up and hired a housecleaner twice. It was out of our budget, but WELL worth it. It was also embarassing and made me feel like a lazy failure, but the feeling of waking the next morning in a clean house was better than coffee. And it's been much easier to keep up since.

    • HeatherSolos on September 23, 2009 at 2:16 pm

      Your home didn't get atrocious overnight. I keep trying to explain to people that for a lot of things there is no magic cure. It's just the struggle to do what we can each day and slowly things get better. It's just really hard sometimes to do what we can. There are some days I just hang on until bedtime.

  22. Malia on September 20, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks Heather. This was a really good thing for me to ready today πŸ™‚

  23. CanadianCarrie on September 20, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Awesome! I really needed to hear that this week. Thanks!

  24. ThatBobbieGirl on September 20, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Hi, I'm Bobbie, and I'm not perfect. I know you're not either, Heather, and you don't try to make us feel like you are – that's why I love Home-Ec 101.

    I don't come here to learn about cooking, coz I've been doing it for over 20 years (though i do learn some things). I don't come here to learn how to keep my house – it's as kept as it can be, given the permanent construction zone it has become. I come here because you're a real person. You don't project a shiny bright, everything's perfect image. When things are hard, you might whine a little, but you keep going, and you try to do what is right. You inspire me to keep trying, to do better, and to keep going even when I just want to run away from home.

    I totally agree with the last paragraph — one of the most helpful books I ever read was "Telling Yourself the Truth" – and it got me to see pretty much what you said at the end: situations and people do not "make us" be a certain way. How we react or feel is our own choice. Thank you for that — I needed to be reminded again.

    • Heather Solos on September 23, 2009 at 2:20 pm

      Does this mean I have to stop telling the kid they are making me cranky?

      • ThatBobbieGirl on September 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm

        Yes. πŸ™‚

        (sending you a private reply thru facebook)

  25. KellyH on September 20, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Oh man, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who feels like they're barely keeping on top of everything. I'm at the end of the coursework part of my PhD, so I'm working on studying for my comprehensive exams, plus trying to get a dissertation research proposal put together, on top of juggling a teaching assistantship and a part-time faculty job at another university. Needless to say, I'm frazzled hard-core. I feel so guilty about letting my husband cook and clean most of the time, because it's hard for me to accept that fact that I can't do it all on my own. I don't know what I'd do without people like him, who are there to hold my life together. πŸ™‚

    • HeatherSolos on September 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm

      Kelly, don't forget most of our struggles while temporary will be replaced with a new batch as soon as we solve the first round. We have to learn to stop living for as soon as x then y. When we are in that mode, we forget today which is all we're guaranteed.
      With that said, I need to learn it, too πŸ˜‰

  26. Katie Johnston on September 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Great post! I think you've hit on a truly disabling topic and that's the crippling drive toward the unattainable goal of perfection. The drive to be perfect comes in so many forms whether you're married with kids or a single gal, like me. Maybe I don't have to worry that my kids have good things to eat, but I worry endlessly that how I present myself to the world physically which has led, unfortunately, to a decade's long eating disorder. (I try to speak freely about this now not to evoke sympathy, but to point out that I am, like everyone else, imperfect and that's okay. I also receive prof help, so this isn't a veiled cry for help, either.) But that eating disorder for me is, as you mentioned, an addiction to drugs, alcohol, co-dependency, depression, anxiety, etc. for many others. We owe it to our coworkers, friends and family, especially to the kids that we have or may someday have, to *embrace* our imperfections, cultivate our strengths, and ask for help when we need it. Cheers to you for creating an open environment where anyone can raise his or her hand and ask for that help. "How to be Happy Without Being Perfect" by Alice Domar is a great book on the topic, as well. PS: my BFA is secretly in interior design, so if you want to pick out paint, an area rug, or a few lamps, give me a shout. I probably can't draft an addition to your house anymore, but can definitely help with nest-feathering. Happy to help!

    • cindy s on September 21, 2009 at 4:33 pm

      @ Katie: "*embrace* our imperfections, cultivate our strengths, and ask for help when we need it. "
      That's hitting the nail on the head. love it.
      I'm trying to deal with that right now in my relationship.

      @Heather: great post. It is so timely for what's going on in my life. So, no, you don't sound snarky at all. just human.

    • HeatherSolos on September 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

      Katie, I think I'm going to have to take you up on that. I have the color for the great room picked out, it's the details I have a hard time adding. I need a push.
      Also, as far as our shortcomings we need to be open and honest, but still manage to avoid wearing them as a badge of honor. I wish I knew where the balance was. Then again, if I did, I'd probably have to struggle with pride. πŸ˜‰

  27. Gene Bowker on September 20, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Great post as always!

    You really hit the point in the last paragraph! " Life presents us with situations that are out of our control, how we choose to react is our choice."

    Your post encourages us all to choice not to over-react! And to react with a smile.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Heather Solos on September 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm

      Have you ever noticed how sometimes it feels like our lives have a theme? Lately I've been seeing a lot on attitude, grace, and forgiveness and how those things impact our personal experience. I figure since I'm noticing it everywhere, maybe it is time I passed it along.

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