Saturday, 30 July 2011

Homemaking Is Not a Competitive Sport

Despite my constant efforts to master the art of calm contentment there's a competitive streak in me that just cannot be quelled.

It's a deep-rooted component of the person that I am; it's the one that once prompted me to re-write an A grade essay because only an  A+ would do, it's the one that drove me to spend hours in the university library when many of my friends were out living and it's the one that makes me shy away from competitive sports because I know where my capabilities fall short.

And so when I sit down with the laptop at the end of the day and browse through the highlights of other people's lives, there's a small part of me that flounders in failure.

I see loaves of freshly baked bread on large wooden chopping blocks, beautiful vases of wildflowers placed picturesquely on the edges of bookshelves, handmade shorts on the legs of beautiful little boys and sumptuous alfresco salads on candle-lit picnic tables.

And although I relish the sight of such things; although I pour over them in reverence and inhale them deeply into my soul as though they have the power to restore me, the competitive edge that lurks beneath my contented exterior feels crushed, because my homemaking skills simply can't compete.

My house is not a haven full of handmade art and homemade cooking. It has a Tupperware box containing mouldy cheese in the garden and a bag of pasta by the broken cat flap of the old front door. It has rotten vegetables in the veg box and outgrown clothes in drawers. It has bottles of long-corked wine under the stairs beside piles of un-ironed clothes and the remnants of last year's unwanted Christmas presents; and it has half-finished sewing projects in boxes in an extension that's still a dusty and un-inhabited shell.

And so as I look at the glimpses of beauty that are evident in other people's lives and feel the competitive urge to compete, I have to remind myself that homemaking is not a competitive sport, look for small ways to introduce beauty into my own flawed and fallible home, and find solace in the fact that if there were a prize for the most glorious vase of pink sweet peas, mine would surely be in with a chance at first place.


  1. I wish I'd taken a picture of what I found on the chair under my crocheted blanket this morning -two pennies, two guitar picks, three apple stickers, several hair thingies and more crumbs than you can count. Behind the chair was a spider metropolis.

    Remember, you only see what is in the picture. Who's to know what junk and debris are just out of shot, or have been cropped away?

    Your sweet peas win first prize

  2. Oh, I have that same streak, and I loathe the fact that it just won't let me get away from constantly comparing myself. And you can never win, because on-line is never ever the whole picture. And because I am a dreadful slob, but that's a whole other issue....

  3. I can so relate to this. I am exactly the same and just have to always remind myself that I'm me and this is my home and it's full of love and happy times. I keen reminding myself that people without ironing and washing piles are very dull people!

    And I definitely agree with Ali, what is said/seen online is a completely different story to how people really feel. It's just a snapshot of the day and not the other 23 hours and 59 minutes.

    Hugs x

  4. I have only been into two magazine ready houses. One is the creation of a woman who dedicates herself to cleaning. It is an unhappy place. The other is a delightful home and it is a privilege to visit but I am never envious because I know that they would gladly swap every polished surface for the chance to have had children.

    My sister, whose house is regularly photographed for magazines, says it is all about frenzied tidying sessions, lighting, fresh flowers and clever angles. And that is real life.

  5. Always remember the camera ALWAYS lies and the blogger is probably shouting "Hide all the tat I only want the Cath Kidston tablecloth, the home-made jam, the thrifted vintage tea cup and the "just from the oven" scone in the picture" And at her feet probably lies a half eaten mouse the cat just brought in :)