Yesterday, instead of writing or cleaning up the piles of paper that litter my floor or the myriad of my shoes, lying where i first kicked them off, waiting to trip my husband, i escaped the mundane of responsibility and reality by delving into a magazine…not just any magazine, but the slick and enticing, “you will never be able to have a home like this, but if you buy this magazine you are one step closer” magazine– Home. Ty Pennington was on the cover, with the tag line, “the best of Extreme Home makeovers” and i was reminded of Wes’ post about EHM as being church with Ty as the preacher. Across the top of the magazine, are the works ” comfort, style, know how” all this could be mine for about the same price as a Starbucks latte! the ridiculousness of this is enough, but it serves as a prelude to the messages inside…
amidst the slick appliances, latest kitchen counter tops and unnecessary accouterments that easily stir up dissatisfaction with my own lovely home, were two advertisements that brought my perusing to a halt. Two pages apart, in the Disneyland of home improvement, i caught myself affirming the messages on both pages, without even realizing the dichotomy they set up and their subtle messages of impossibility. i am not trying to be dramatic or over react. and maybe if these advertisements had been spaced further apart in the magazine, i would not have made the connection, but the message of the first, lingered in my mind, warmed my heart and then i was slammed two pages later…
(if i had more techie expertise, i would scan the ads and upload them here, but alas, descriptions will have to suffice;)
the first advertisement that caught my eye: a muted black and white photo tenderly portrayed a child’s hand and a mother’s hand putting candles on a birthday cake. (now this is not a box cake or a bought cake…but definitely has the homemade look to it) and the caption reads… “in my kitchen, i preheat a memory/ i fold in old friends with new/ i bake a good laugh…” there is a flap to lift that reveals high end wall ovens, and the myth continues with the words “in the well lived home, more than cooking goes on in the kitchen/ it is an art studio/ it is a quiet table for two/ it is a clubhouse…” and then the copy shifts to explain that if you own one of their expensive ovens, you will automatically have a well-live home, and you will have time to fold in ingredients, your kids will have their clubhouse there and you will still have energy for a quiet dinner for two… ! preheat is not a button on my microwave…and my home is well lived in! emphasis on the lived in.
however, i thought the picture was sweet, and my mind drifted back to days of making cakes, cookies, and even dinners when my children were younger and life seemed simpler…(though the cakes were still from a box mix;) the tender engagement of both hands, mother and child’s, was heart warming and i had a nostalgic moment…(i did not want to buy the oven). i did want to have the leisurely time to be with my kids and to return to those earlier days of being a mom…wistful, i felt wistful…then i found myself wishing i had made more cakes with my kids, and more dinners for two for my husband…you know, been a super mom!
OK, enough nostalgia, i wanted to know how to make my house look like it ‘should’ and wanted to read about Ty, so i flipped the page of see what else was new on the market, that i most likely didn’t own and certainly didn’t need, but was promised that they would make me happy, fulfilled, or at least have a ‘well lived’ home.
two pages later…there is a reminder that i must be sexy mom too! wild and free, not bound by the very thing that takes up most of my mind and heart, and time to be quite honest… my kids and their needs and schedules. It is an advertisement for an SUV (SUV’s in the concrete jungles- which is another post all together!)
across the top third of the page is the face of a woman, pretty & thin, with a slight knowing Cheshire cat type of smile on her face. the caption reads, “i wasn’t born to carpool.” on the rest of the page there is a picture of the car that will keep a mom from looking, being, seeming, like a mom… as the caption continues “i never fantasized about spending weekends at the home improvement store./ i am a mother of two, but not just a mother of two. I am more than the sum of my errands/ that’s why i bought a Saturn.”
now, i agree with the basic message that we as women are more than “just mothers” and the sum of our carpools… an we should live in that truth! we are not ‘just’ anything! women are mysterious beings of depth and complexity that cannot be defined in a role, a job, a name, or title. But this advertisement made me feel pressure at the same time. again, the thoughts of looking sexy in a carpool line, when i was lucky to even make it on time, or the message that ‘just’ being a mother of two is not enough, and being supermom and sexy mom is needed and possible, if you own this car!
in their own right, neither ad is horrible or wrong. they are both quite clever in fact…appealing to the desires of most wives and mothers, to be super mom and sexy wife, to balance everything and not lose sight of ourselves, to have endless energy to do it all… yet i felt frustrated reading both ads. and the placement of two pages apart made me aware and angry at the messages that bombard us, both subtly and directly, and i was saddened by the ways that we buy into them, striving to achieve or master.
i am weary of trying to be it all..super mom and sexy mom are mythic burdens and trying to be them simultaneously deadens our souls. I am concerned for my daughters who are entering a world that promises realized possibility at an increasing speed. the instant society in which we live breeds comparison and discontent as so many things and options are available. i am not a crusader, but from my quiet corner of the world, i want to say, “stop the madness and just BE…” bake, drive, preheat or don’t, but do so because there is a uniqueness to each of us that does not need to be measured against anyone or anything, other than the inner call on our hearts. That is where we come to know who and how we are to BE the divine image bearers. Being supermom or sexy mom by anyone’s standards sets up the competition and discontentment that drive us to dizzying efforts to DO more and more, until we have lost sight of who we BE…
i don’t want to lose sight of myself, in the mayhem of the media. i don’t want my kids to get on the hamster wheel of performance and achievement that only goes faster, but still goes nowhere! i want the rest and abundant life that comes from resting in Christ, regardless of what i do or don’t do…and from that place of rest, i find that i can be engaged and involved with authentic presence, and that is the legacy i want to offer from my kitchen and lived in home!
i didn’t read anymore of the magazine…i was so tired, i took a nap! Ty and EHM will have to wait for another day;)