The Trouble With Martha

Now that we know each other a little better I feel like I can share a little more deeply with you. Let my freak flag fly as it were. But please be warned: I am about to reveal an ugly truth and you may wish to send your children out of the room or change the channel entirely. I have a problem with Martha Stewart.

There. I said it. Turn against me if you must, or organize a boycott. Do what you have to do but I'm tired of feeling inadequate at the hands of Ms. Stewart. I'm not inspired by Martha's contrived crafting or the projects dreamed up by her creative staff (whom I'm certain are fabulous by the way) while sitting in their offices which are very far removed from my laundry room. (That statement was for effect only—I don't actually have a laundry room, and the nook where I do my laundry looks nothing like any laundry room I've ever seen in Martha Stewart Living Magazine.) I'm offended by the image of perfection set forth from one of her spotless kitchen sets while she tells me that it's a good thing to use the most expensive ingredient (purchased undoubtedly at a charming gourmet shop by an assistant who most certainly didn't have a whiny toddler with a runny nose in tow) and mix it with the most up to date mixer (the purchase of which absolutely didn't send her into debt) all the while not ruining her perfect French manicure.

I set to thinking about all this after a recent email from an old friend. "Jeez" was the subject line and she began "DAMMIT WOMAN! Did you really make applesauce, then take pictures of it, then make applesauce cookies? Then write a clever post on your blog about it!" I felt compelled to tell her that while yes, I did indeed use homemade applesauce to make (what turned out to be pretty bland) cookies, the dishes were still in my sink the next morning and we ordered in pizza for dinner that night.

If I ever gave the impression that things over here were are all lovely all the time, I'm telling you now that it was false advertising.

I won't be a party to furthering some unattainable, unrealistic, insulting and frankly dangerous picture of perfection. Women have come too far for us to be bamboozled by the likes of Martha Stewart. So you think you can have it all? Your pantry perfectly organized and your linens smelling like citrus while your children play neatly in their Pottery Barn decorated playroom? Bread baking in the oven and hand knitted mittens for all, while you hold down a full time job and juggle soccer and PTA?

Come on.

Yes. I sew. I knit and I even bake an occasional loaf of bread but I do so at the expense of other things I deem less important in the overall scheme. I make choices. I choose to make things because it makes me happy to do so. I knit and cook in part because it disguises doing something for myself as doing something for them. It's selfish. I write because it takes me away, for a few minutes, from the diaper genie full of poop or the pile of unfolded sweaters on my bedroom chair. I choose to sew with a few free minutes instead of paying attention to the bills and the committees and the phone calls. I choose to ignore too many things and every day is a struggle between everything I'm supposed to do and everything I want to do.

And just when I think I have it figured out, Martha's voice shouts at me again (politely) from some glossy page in the doctor's office: your house isn't good enough! Your paint colors are wrong and the butter you use isn't from the right dairy in the South of France! You hair wasn't perfect when you cooked the kids those coddled eggs this morning! You are inadequate!

To all this I respectfully say: screw off.

I've got news for you Martha: homemaking isn't glamorous. It's a labor of love and I love it. But wiping tushies? Try that on national television with a white cashmere sweater on while telling me how to be.

You know what would be a good thing? A maid. Someone to scrub my toilets and fluff my pillows, but it's not happening and I have to be okay with that.

If you ever, even for one minute, got the impression that it was all fresh baked all the time, or that we don't sometimes (most times) use canned chicken stock around here, or that our sweaters are all hand knit (okay, that one is true) and that just outside the nicely cropped photo wasn't something that looked like this:

I hearby invite you over for coffee (if you can find the pot).

Perfection is in the eye of the beholder and I don't like being told what mine should look like. Most days, my perfection is stepping around toy trucks and taking out the trash, and I wouldn't have it any other way.