I think it’s important to have a strong female role model in our lives. After I got married I chose Martha Stewart to be mine. I thought she represented the perfect all American housewife so I decided to model my housewifery after her. Now I had lived at home until the day I got married and I did not cook, clean, garden, or have any crafting skills; so I was putting no pressure on myself at all. It looked easy enough on the TV.
I began with the decorating. I tried to decorate my 1000 square-foot duplex like her massive farmhouse. As a newly married girl in her early twenties my home was filled with hand me downs and high school trinkets. But being an avid pack rat my 1000 square-feet was filled. To. The. Max. I kept going to thrift stores looking for treasures to give it that Martha farmhouse flair, buying every basket I could get my hands on. In no time everything I owned was stored in a basket; soap, towels, remotes, mason jars, books, blankets, Sega games, shoes, the dog. Farmhouse look accomplished.
Next I decided to plant a rose garden. I ordered twelve JFK rose bushes and planted them right beside my carport. I had never grown anything in my life but how hard could it be, right? Apparently gardening is a skill and not a task. Those rose bushes were a lot of trouble. I had to go out everyday and water them, pick off diseased leaves, stroke them gently, sing to them, and tell them how beautiful they were. After all this love and care I only produced three roses. Gardening turned out to be harder than it looked on the TV.
Crafting is where I really got into it. Two weeks after getting married I found out I was pregnant so I hit a nesting phase. I had gotten a sewing machine as a wedding gift. I had never used a sewing machine but I was determined to sew some shit. I figured out how to thread it and bought some fabric scraps at Walmart. This is when the magic happened. I made valences for my kitchen. They were see through because I made them with fabric I had gotten for 12 cents, the stitching was crooked, and they were uneven af but I felt so proud of myself. I also made a little quilt for my unborn baby boy. It was a simple block pattern and I sewed it together backwards causing a mini breakdown. If I couldn’t make a simple quilt for my baby what kind of mother would I be? (My mother fixed it for me so it worked out in the end.) This was the last time I used the sewing machine. Crafting was not my jam.
Cooking is where I knew I would shine. I decided to start with a fabulous desert, a Roasted Strawberry Napoleon. My husband at the time was in the military so we didn’t have a lot of disposable income. I was not concerned with this. I was concerned with being the perfect housewife like Martha Stewart. I went to the store and bounced a check to get the ingredients to make this fabulous dessert. After 72 hours in the kitchen making the most complicated dessert known to man it was ready to assemble. Immediately after putting it together the strawberries slid right off the pastry because my orange cream was too runny. I still ate this blob of a dessert and I really think the salt from my tears added a nice contrast to the sweetness.
As a side note I should mention that my actual mother-in law’s name was Martha Stewart, no she wasn’t that one but that was really her name. You just can’t make this stuff up. And my mother-in-law was a domestic goddess. So there was that pressure as well. The pressure was never from her, she was a real sweetheart. I put all the pressure on myself.
Oh the pressure I put on myself to be who I thought I should be. It was excruciating. I was stressed out everyday because nothing was ever good enough. I would be walking through K-Mart (this was back in the day when they sold the Martha Stewart line) with my mother and just burst into tears because my house was ugly. I was always angry because my life wasn’t this picture perfect image I had in my head. I was also very unpleasant to be around. When I mentioned this blog post to my son and reminded him of when I wanted to be Martha Stewart he commented, very dryly, “Oh I remember, I was there.” Good times.
After several years of trying to be Martha Stewart I figured out that we all have to find our own path, where we are meant to shine. I never became the perfect housewife and I’m fine with that. I went back to work and I loved it. This is where I belonged. I was learning new things (that I actually enjoyed), I felt valuable, and I looked forward to each day. I still admire Martha as a strong woman. But now I recognize her as a business woman and not just a housewife. I pick and choose the lessons I learn from her today.
- I never tried to garden again. It’s just not my thing. I’m more of an indoor girl. Years ago I mowed my lawn and I was so pathetic that my neighbor came out and said he would do it for me. I no longer own a lawn mower but I do have a lawn service.
- Crafting is still not my jam. I do not think this is a hobby I will ever pick up and that is ok. I prefer to buy the decorative moss ball at TJ Maxx for $6.99 than spend $27 on supplies and 47 hours on the project. I have enough hobbies to keep me busy, like day drinking. Priorities.
- I actually enjoy cooking and it is something I have gotten very good at. I learned some basic techniques, invested in some good tools and learned how to read a recipe. Martha has some great recipes and I use them frequently. She is my go to when I need a dinner idea.
I have learned that everything in life is a lesson. Some things we carry forward and build on and we get better and better. Some things are a lesson in what not to do, like crafting in my case.
Have you ever put pressure on yourself to live up to something you have seen on the TV? In a magazine? Social Media? Tell me all about it. As you just read, I have been there.
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