{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} – Why These Posts Matter

~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life, as inspired by the women at Like Mother, Like Daughter~

{Pretty}

After some warm sunny days, this week saw the return of fall. As I type this, the rain is splattering on the skylight above me, the water is pooling in the driveway, and Katie’s very favorite mud puddles are filling up. We took advantage of those same puddles on Saturday, participating in a rainy day tradition that we inadvertently created last year (and, which, despite the passage of many months, was remembered and requested by the resident three-year-old): a good session of stomping and soaking and splashing, followed by a bath (not pictured) and a cup of hot chocolate. Abby is big enough to participate (somewhat) this year, adding to the fun (and mayhem).

(I realize this tradition could easily be categorized as {happy} as well. {Happy} might be a more appropriate label for it. But this past week, I only captured photos of my girls – more about that in {real}, and so I’m drawing on some of the synonyms for pretty: attractive, charming, delightful, cute … all of which apply quite well to the joy and the fun that come from stomping in the mud.)

I love the look on her face, and her pretty pink fleece.

Side note: that sheep in the foreground? He is Abby’s constant companion (which has me wondering why she couldn’t have attached herself to a stuffed animal that was any color other than white. Seriously. I washed him on Sunday and he is already a dull gray color today). He gets up with her in the morning and attends every outing with her, often serving as a cushion for one of her hands as she crawls across the floor. Her breakfast begins with a negotiation: she gets her food when she’s ready to hand Sheep to me, and sometimes, her desire to snuggle him is much, much greater than her desire to eat. Heaven help us if we ever lose him. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

{Happy}

Each week, when Grandma comes to visit, she brings a special project or a game or a surprise for Katie to do with her. Today, her surprise was Grandpa! Katie and Grandpa played with Lego for the duration of their visit (and, whenever Grandpa got up, her immediate response was, “Hey Grandpa, you want play Lego with me?”)

{Funny}


These girls in their matching jammies … and their facial expressions!

Abby is quite pleased with herself: she’s learned the proper way to eat olives. Whenever she has them (which is quite often – my girls might just be keeping the California olive business alive, all on their own), she demonstrates her skill, waving her fingers at me and exclaiming until I acknowledge her prowess. On the few occasions I’ve given her olives that are split or sliced or malformed in some way that prevent her from sticking them on her finger, she’s roundly rejected them, refusing to eat them or have anything to do with them.

{Real}

My sister captured this one, and shared it on Facebook, captioned: “Look, I draw Mama!” And, while it could easily be filed under {funny}, I think I’ll put it here this week instead, under {real}.

I’ve had a decided lack of inspiration when it comes to this {real} space for the past few weeks, feeling as though I don’t actually have much of value or interest to say. A friend told me recently she’d realized she’d settled into the stay-at-home mom life because the only stories she had to tell were about her kids – “I’m boring myself!” she said, with a half-grin – and, three-and-a-half years into this thing, I could relate. My stories do revolve around my kids, around the small things they do and say. Which only makes sense, since I spend the bulk of my waking hours with them.

In theory, I believe there is great value here, in what I do to maintain a home and to care for small children, but such things are easy to forget in the practice of it. I’m quick to dismiss it, to compare, to think that because I am not doing the things other women are doing I must be doing something wrong, that because women of previous generations fought for higher education and the ability to work outside the home, I am somehow reverting to and encouraging an oppressive system by choosing not to follow their lead. Somehow, in my mind, the titles ‘homemaker’ and ‘stay-at-home mom’ are derogatory, despite the many things I’ve read (and repeated to myself) that encourage me to believe otherwise.

(I hesitate to share this, because I’m not seeking affirmation, here, not looking for you to tell me how important, how valuable is the work I’m doing. I know these things. I do. And, most days, I believe them – if I didn’t, I’d seek to change the pattern of my days, to make different choices for myself and for my family. But, in the interest of being {real}, here’s truth: despite this knowledge, the days are often long, and the voices in my head are often deafening.)

And so, I’ve been thinking these things in the back of my mind, wondering whether I should continue to share even this one short post per week, questioning whether this stay-at-home mom with stories of her kids has much of value to say. In my self-doubt, I turned to the original inspiration for these {phfr} posts, wanting to know what Leila had to say when she started this thing going.

I’m glad I did, because it was like she was speaking directly to me, in these things I’ve been thinking and feeling. I’m not her. I don’t possess the wisdom and the skills she does, and I may never be good at cleaning the toilets on a schedule – but her post, and her reasons for encouraging her readers to find the {phfr} moments in their lives were exactly what I needed to hear. These {phfr} posts, after all, are about seeking contentment, about capturing the context of it in my daily life, however it may look.

Right now, in these few short years, the contentment in my daily life comes from my kids, from the things they’re doing and saying. From the fact that I’m thrilled that my daughter’s first recognizable drawing of a person, albeit a somewhat Jabba-the-Hutt-ish type person, is of me. From the million little moments and conversations throughout the week that comprise our life together.

I’d thought about stepping away from these posts because they feel so mundane, so ordinary, so boring, because all I do is talk about my kids and I don’t want to be that mom – but that’s exactly why I shouldn’t give them up. It’s in finding the pretty, the happy, the funny, the real in my everyday life that contentment comes.

Those are the {pretty, happy, funny, real} moments around here this week. How about you? Capture any contentment lately?

Family and Parenting, This Thing Called Life

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6 Responses to {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} – Why These Posts Matter

  1. Alison G says:

    What great photos! What an honest open talk about something so relevant to mom’s today. I love you & your stories & your girls… And I admire how you mother so well.

  2. Sandy Palmer says:

    Each day, we write in our “grateful book” – noting something, big or small, that we are grateful for. There are occasional days when we struggle to find something new and different from the hundreds of days that have gone before. It is a good exercise, though, helping us remember how very blessed we are. (And, may I point out, it’s a practice we learned from you!) We love reading your PHFR posts and appreciate your honesty and transparency!

  3. ambervanderpol2015 says:

    I’m wondering what is wrong with talking about your kids and writing about them. Why is that boring and mundane? Sure, many people have children, but so what? Your children certainly are not boring and mundane, and if someone feels that they are, then they don’t have to read your posts – no one is forced to come to your little corner of the internet. 🙂 I’m glad you write these posts and share your photos because I enjoy being able to keep up with your family at least a little bit, and I hope you will continue!

    • Jenn says:

      Thank you, Amber. You’re right, of course – my kids certainly aren’t boring and mundane. I think there are some lingering insecurities coming through here; I wrestled with serious self-doubt and insecurity in high school and, while I’ve largely overcome most of those things as an adult, they sometimes show up as the desire to be all things to all people and to want to say things that are interesting and relevant to anyone and everyone. In any case, I’m glad you enjoy these posts – I enjoy putting them together, and I like creating the record of our days.

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