How I’m Not Like Martha

from http://www.marthastewart.com

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?

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “How I’m Not Like Martha

  1. A-to the men!! Thank you. I’ve been stewing over this thought for a bit now–how I’m “supposed” to look, act or do. No matter what standard I’m comparing myself to, I NEVER measure up. And then that just sends me into a downward spiral. What revelation I’ve come to (in the last 24 hours, indeed) is that how I appear on the outside really isn’t the point–it is the inside. my character, my heart (good bad or ugly, depending on the moment) is what matters. And if people snicker at me because I can’t do this or that…then I just have to let that go. Focus on developing meaningful relationships with people who have love to give.
    And now I’m just rambling.
    Oh yeah, you wanted to know a Martha Moment.
    I’ve been trying to fold my sheets like Martha for almost 11 years. You know–how she folds the sheets up all neat like and they fit in the pillowcase all flat and tidy.
    Want to guess what my linen closet looks like?
    wadded up sheets, threatening to topple over any second!
    Thanks for the great post!!

  2. Amy

    Martha’s calendar is ambitious; however, she has a team of hired help to do 90% of her to do list. The only thing I’m working on growing right now are the characters of little people. The most Martha-like thing I’ve ever done is knit a poncho.

  3. And the entire choir says AMEN! I have decided that my boys education is my first priority and having a house that is at least presentable is number two. To those ends you will find us with school stuff all over the living room floor in the mornings. If you give me notice that you are stoping by, I will close our bedroom doors so you don’t see the unmade beds. I love Martha but have realized that I am ok loving her from a distance.

    • whimzie

      The year I homeschooled in Massachusetts I naively thought that since we’d be home all the time my house would be cleaner and I’d get those little house projects done that I could never get around to doing. The opposite was true. Since we were home all the time my house was a wreck. And with all the school stuff, who has time to do extra projects?! I loved it, but it did not lend itself to a tidy home. My hat’s off to you, friend!

  4. OH my goodness, where do I even begin? I am so un-Martha. I think she would have a stroke if she entered my little white house on the hill. And I’ll just leave it there.

  5. carpoolqueen

    I love Martha but she lost me when I spent an hour and a half making ONE tiny little Thanksgiving place card for the table.

    Never mind that I read the directions wrong in the first place.

    BUT ANYWAY, I realized that living a not-so-tidy life was a lot more fun than trying to create a perfect one.

  6. Betty Boop

    I spent most of my adult life caring about what others thought of my housekeeping skills. The older I get (and that’s getting pretty old), the less I care and when I had grandsons I cared more about them than my house. As far as my Martha skills, I’m more of a HGTV person. I helped tile a backsplash this summer so I’m looking to host a show real soon!

  7. It took me a while to comment, honestly because this post gives me pause to consider the little prickles of shame I feel about my house and my home-keeping. I’m so right on board with you, Amy. I love pretty things, and dream big about holidays and “making memories”.

    Honestly, I could’ve copied and pasted your last 3 paragraphs. I feel the same way. What I hope my family sees, though, is that though my house is often less than I would like to present it to others, and their socks may be clean but unmatched, my love for them and our friends is impenetrable, grace-giving, and God-led. And I hope I remember this as I invite others in for a cup of coffee or tea or as I brush the crumbs off the table for game night.

    • whimzie

      That’s the hard part for me. Being vulnerable enough to let people in even when everything’s not perfect. I guess that’s true about my heart as well as my house.

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