This summer, I found a really good deal on a subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine. I admire Martha’s creativity. I’ve learned the proper way to do many household tasks under her expert tutelage. Several of her recipes have made her way to my family’s list of favorites. But let’s face it: I’m no Martha Stewart.
This point has been driven home to me every time I read “Martha’s Month,” a regular feature of her magazine that details “gentle reminders, helpful tips, and important dates” for the month. I thought you might enjoy seeing how my life follows a markedly different path from Ms. Stewart’s.
In July, “Martha often spends summer weekends in Lily Pond, her house in East Hampton. She makes the most of sunny days by inviting friends over for a farm-fresh meal served poolside.” This July, I spent summer weekends doing huge piles of laundry in The Laundry Room, which is actually a misnomer because my washer and dryer are crammed into a corner of my kitchen. I prayed that the neighbors wouldn’t want to be invited in, but just in case, I crammed all the piles of stuff (that somehow end up living beside the front door) into every spare corner of space I could find in the guest bedroom closet. I served the children frozen pot pies and patted myself on the back for not calling Domino’s again.
Also in July Martha urged her readers to take time to clean their garbage cans inside and out with a solution of biodegradable dishwashing liquid and water, leaving them outside in the sun to dry. I urged my family members to be that hero: the one who finally admits defeat and takes out the trash instead of insisting that just one more piece of garbage will fit in that can.
In August, Martha advised us to make sure to stay “road-trip” ready. She recommended that we pack a first-aid kit, paper towels, a car fire extinguisher, bungee cords, flares, jumper cables, duct tape, and a flat-repair kit in our vehicles before we take a road trip. Before the kids and I went on a road trip this August, I cleaned out the van. I didn’t find a band aid or duct tape, but I did accumulate enough petrified fries for at least one Happy Meal. I also found two light sabers, three library books, two Nintendo games, and the remnants of an ice cream cup from Baskin Robbins, which is odd because I haven’t taken the kids to Baskin Robbins since before school ended.
This month, Martha will be disinfecting her flower pots, composting leaves, planning her Halloween party, and storing her onions separate from her potatoes. I will be cleaning the base of the toilets because my boys have poor aim, resisting the urge to buy candy corn because I have little self control, and reminding the family to eat the bananas before they go brown because we have no more room for frozen ones in the freezer.
Nope, I’m no Martha, that’s for sure.
I thought that after junior high and high school, girls would grow up and not worry so much about what other girls think. But in many ways, I am still that insecure thirteen-year-old who wonders if she looks okay when she enters a room full of people she doesn’t know. I want people to think I’m a 21st century Proverbs 31 woman. I want to be dressed with coordinating accessories when I drop the kids off to school, not wearing the same t-shirt and gym shorts I slept in the night before. I want to be the mom who brings the healthy snacks and makes her own bread. I want to knit and crochet and make my own tablecloths. I want to be able to invite people into my tidy home where there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. I want to be able to find junky pieces of furniture at Goodwill and turn them into showroom pieces with a can of spray paint and a hot glue gun. I want to actually do all the stuff I keep pinning on my Pinterest boards!
But I also want a nap and just five minutes to look at my Martha Stewart Living magazine without feeling guilty that I’m not mopping my nasty kitchen floor. And I have to keep in mind the big difference that exists between keeping a home and making one. The people make the home, not the cute decorations and magazine-picture-perfect living rooms.
I will probably always be a remedial student in the How to be a Happy Homemaker class, but I’m enjoying the lessons learned along the way. I’ll keep my Pinterest boards full with inspirational ideas my friends have found. I’ll try new recipes and decorate my home with bits and pieces that remind me of autumn. I’ll organize and clean and work on making my house a home. But Martha doesn’t live here. It’s just me and mine. And a few issues of Martha’s magazine that tempt with new ideas as long as I remember that in order to dream, I have to get some sleep!
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10:41
So when are you most like Martha? What do you do (or not do) that you think would make Martha cringe?