Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hanging Up the Secret Costs of Perfection

Oprah's "Ultimate Favorite Things," Martha's and her gourmet foods coordinated to match dishes and tea towels,  a Pottery Barn seasonal catalog--even among the pages of 'Real Simple' there it is...unattainable perfection.

The Home Manager* of today is fed a plethora of media inspired idealistic homes and lifestyles that the June Cleavers of yesteryear would never have been able to keep up.  There is this ideology (rather idealistic) that normal home maintenance ranges somewhere from Laura Ashley with sweeping country views to Windsor Castle-esque with a footman, butler, maid, and full serviced kitchen--the only glitch to this "normal" is it is to be done within middle-income budget constraints and by one person with moderate assistance from their family.

I fed into these lovely notions for a time (and I won't lie...they still get me every now and again).


When I married my husband I discovered the most awful thing one could imagine lurking there in the recesses of his closet...the man had a rainbow of hangers.  How would I ever be able to create a perfectly organized and beautiful home without matching hangers?  My own hangers were all white at the time (and mostly still are) and I had high hopes of magically finding deeply discounted wooden hangers to complete a perfectly-proper closet.  I donated all of my husband's unmatched hangers and kept only his navy colored ones (he had enough of these to go around thankfully).  For my first child's closet, I continued with my hanger fetish and my daughter's hangers matched her nursery decor.

This is what I've learned since then--the only person to look into my closets is usually me and my family.  If anyone else is looking they are either family, a good friend, or nosey (if it is the latter, I'm secure enough in my closet space not to worry anymore).  I was buying into the media hype of this perfect home makes a perfect me ideology--it is really good hype for Type A divas--we relish in the secret thoughts of one day finding perfection (Martha is a drug for Type A's).  Unfortunately for me I'm far from perfect and so is my home...but somehow I believed that doing these minuscule things that eat up my dollars and my precious time will make my life better.  I've slowly weaned myself off of this type of media that promotes perfection.  I don't watch HGTV or read home magazines...I do check out books from the library on decor if I need inspiration.

As for the kids hangers now consist of odds and ends (adult hangers, clothing brand hangers, and hangers from the nursery);  my husband has a rainbow of green and navy hangers: my hangers range from white to cream with an occasional navy or wire hanger thrown in.  Has it changed my life that I didn't achieve perfect wooden hanger Nirvana--not likely.  What it has done is saved me a dollar or two buying new hangers and saved resources because we use what we have--when my son was born we didn't buy a single hanger.   I still want my home to be neat and tidy (but I have children so we do what we can) but I care most that my home is functional and comfortable for those living here or visiting.  So when you see Martha with a myriad of beautiful bowls or pots lined up just so behind her, remember it is not "real"--you are looking at an illusion created by a large staff of persons who spend hours analyzing how to get the most "wow effect" possible.  Concentrate on the "wowing" of you and your loved ones--take a nature walk, listen to a lovely piece of music, color with your kids and save a few dollars and a whole lot of sanity in the meanwhile.

Home Economies Definition*

Home Manager(s)-any persons involved in the day-to-day management within a home (this can involve more than one person in a household).

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