Soule-Crushing Mama

by renegademama

 

I used to stop by blogs like SouleMama. I would gaze at the beautiful pictures of gorgeous kids in handmade clothing doing soul-nourishing activities. I ogled at the gardens and hills and trees and lakes. My jaw fell in wonder at the knitted creations and felted little dolls, the gorgeous linens, wooden push toys and fireside gatherings…comforted by the earthy hue of their existence…all these beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful places. It all just seemed so mellow, so wholesome and good. like soul food in blog form. And for a moment, while reading, I’d think “Maybe I could do that, too.”

But then one day I read this post, and I haven’t gone back, because I can’t take it. It’s like a mirror to my own parenting deficiencies. Even though SouleMama specifically states that her blog is just a PIECE of her life, and there’s “raised voices” and messes in her house, I don’t believe it because I don’t see it. It’s my problem. Not hers. I mean that. If she pulls off the shit she seems to pull off, mad respect.

As the classic line goes…”It’s me. Not you.”

Only in this case, it’s actually true.

Here was the deal-breaker for me…

“On a recent day in December, on a day much like any other day this year, I watched as Calvin rose earlier than anyone else in the house to take care of his chickens. He opened the coop, changed the water, freshened the food, brought them scraps, and gave the bedding a stir. Coming back in, with his littlest brother just toddling into the kitchen, Calvin made them both breakfast. There was some reading after that in front of the fire, and a game of chess with his other brother. At midday, he volunteered to help his Papa   butcher the remaining turkeys, taking breaks here and there to work in his treehouse, and target practice on a bale of hay with his handmade bow and arrow. As evening neared, we left the house…stopping first at the local natural foods store where he sells his eggs. Proceeding into the city, my little guy joined his friends backstage and donned his black tights, ballet slippers and stage makeup and danced his way onto the stage.

In between those moments, I am certain that he also held the baby while I took a shower, likely knit a row or two on his scarf, probably ‘polished’ his Converse (yes, really), may have made his little sister an orange fleece hat, and definitely listened to some hip-hop.” (www.soulemama.com/soulemama/2012/01/a-day-in-the-life.html?cid=6a00d8341c4ea853ef0162ffffffad970d)

And henceforth, in my head, every time somebody mentions SouleMama I think to myself…JOKINGLY, sarcastically, just for funsies…”You mean, Soule-Crushing Mama?”

Cause I read those lines and my mind goes like this:

Wait hold up. Your child got up by himself to do chores, cooked his sibling breakfast, volunteered to work, all by noon? He then played with a homemade bow and arrow, sold “his eggs” at a “local natural food store,” did ballet, built a treehouse, all while intermittently holding a baby, knitting, polishing his shoes and MAKING A FUCKING HAT?

And he did this in ONE DAY? And this is a day “like any other day?”

Holy mother of God I am doing something seriously WRONG.

Soule-Crushing.

Where’s the yelling? Where’s the cajoling? Where’s the mayhem? Where’s the bickering, exhaustion, whining?

I mean the sheer LOGISTICS of my life negate any possibility for a day like that one.

Are my kids the only ones acting like hyenas? Are my kids the only ones who chuck themselves on the floor in existential anguish when approached with the prospect of house work?

Where are the bad attitudes, the intermittent apathy, the “kids, please, just stop talking for ONE MINUTE because mom’s about to lose her shit” moments? Where are the temper tantrums, the messes, the screaming-matches? What about racing out the door, late one more time, and the baby takes a dump and you want to weep and the older kid won’t stop asking complex questions and the middle kid STILL doesn’t have his shoes on…?

Soule-crushing.

So I conclude “Either those women are super-powered, or they’re lying, or I’m so deficient it’s ridiculous and my kids are horribly behaved and I’m an even worse mother than formerly thought.”

You see the only part of that day I can even remotely relate to is the killing turkeys part. My husband does that. He’s a butcher. On his family’s ranch. However, I can promise you people, my kids sure as shit aren’t volunteering to help work out there. In fact, they’d pretty much rather recite lines out of 17th-century metaphysical poetry. I mean it’s hard work, it smells like ass, and it’s generally either freezing or like an oven.

When I ask Ava to cook for the younger kids she acts like I just asked her to donate her hair.

We have all kinds of wool we could felt. It’s sitting on a shelf in the craft closet, where it’s remained for the past two years.

We knit. Bi-annually.

The other day I asked the kids to help me plant some flowers in the front yard. Ava responds “you mean, so we can NOT water them and they can die like all the other ones and we can do it again in 3 months?”

Well, yes, smartass, that’s exactly what I mean.

Even the 10-year old gets it.

And this, my friends, is the best I got, and it sure isn’t much – a fact that’s compounded in my brain when I read about a “day like any other” that strikes me as some sort of homemaking ethereal existence of joy.

And she’s like “It ain’t no thang.”

Now don’t misunderstand me. Not only do I have nothing against women like SouleMama, I’m so freaking JEALOUS I COULD CRY.  I support the over-arching values being conveyed by bloggers like that. I admire their work, their devotion and the ethics they reinforce. I admire their LIVES. As she says, they’re only sharing a part of their lives – not the whole story.

But there’s this whiny child in me….”I want my life to be that beautiful!!” I want my kids to wake up knitting shit for the baby and crafting archery tools out of native woods. I want to spin yarn and make jam from berries I’ve grown, sew bonnets out of organic cotton and sell eggs at local stores. That shit is wonderful. It’s beautiful. It’s GOOD.

But the reality of my life is that I live in a small, unimpressive agricultural town in a small, totally unattractive 1970s house next to a dude who drinks Budweiser in his garage all day, smoking Marlboro Reds and doing drunk yardwork. On the other side of me is some gathering of individuals who enjoy marijuana, screaming at their dogs and bad country music. I work. My husband works. All the time. And yet, WE DON’T HAVE ANY FUCKING MONEY for Amish pushcarts. Everybody on my street works, all day. My kitchen floor is linoleum. You can hear the freeway from my front yard.

But I TRY, people, I TRY. We got rid of our T.V. We don’t eat many processed foods. Almost all our meat is raised and killed by my husband, I hate American consumerism, we read lots of books, I breastfeed and cosleep and use cloth diapers (um, along with the “other kind”)…I try to engage my kids in imaginative play…I take them outdoors, camping, swimming…but check it out:

I recently came home to a note from Mac, regarding our dogs. It read “Laser needs to poop. Odie is constipated.”

BEAUTIFUL.

You see, no matter what I do, my life just isn’t that beautiful. No matter how hard I try, it just isn’t aesthetically pleasing. It isn’t calm, wholesome or carefully crafted in gorgeous wood. It’s loud, messy, stinky and a little frenzied. It’s plastic and metal and occasionally, it’s frozen food. It’s a few successes and glorious days scattered among hours of messiness and rushing and struggling and flailing.

Those are the rhythms of my fucking day. Not exactly what the Waldorf dude had in mind, I don’t think.

Not because I love it that way, but because it just is. I read those blogs and I think “We should sell everything we own and move to Vermont and grow lavender.” But then I remember that this is where my people are, and I can’t leave my family, and my whole life is here. So this is it for me, for now.

Plus, we can’t afford a big old farm house in the country. Shit, we can’t afford to move anywhere. We can’t afford all wooden toys. And somehow, I can’t get my act together to even do ONE crafty project, let alone 6 in one day. And my children are pretty much always bickering and one day rushes into the next and I’m excited if I get two rooms clean or set up a little play room, or clean bags of crap toys out my house, or turn on some Jimi Hendrix while I clean, so my kids get cultured.

Basically, the women on these blogs are actually DOING the shit I pin on Pinterest and dream about.

So I don’t read that stuff anymore. Because even though it makes my heart smile, and I appreciate it, I just have to accept that my life isn’t that life, no matter how many Waldorf playstands I “pin.”

I am not talking shit about them.

I’m talking shit about me. About the fact that I can’t take it. About the fact that I can’t read those things and believe myself when I say “Janelle, it’s a BLOG. Nobody’s THAT PERFECT.” But they seem that perfect. They seem that capable. Their kids seem that good. All I see is pretty shit.

And clearly, my insecurities are just too big to expose myself to so much beauty. I should find it inspiring. But honestly, you know what I find inspiring? Going over to my lovely friend Kristi’s house, a Montessori teacher, and seeing the way she has crafted these simple, wonderful play spaces for her toddler, out of $10.00 Ikea items.

Because that, my friends, is within my reach.

And I like to stay within my reach. Well, at least close.

And I guess in the end, we do what we can do and appreciate our small, slightly pathetic attempts to nourish our souls, and those of our children.

Right where we are.

 

  • Stephanie

    Never, never, never be jealous. It’s a useless emotion. And if you can’t help it, channel the energy to do (if you choose) something more rewarding for yourself. Jealousy only leads to less desirable behavior. I’ve been watching it and counseling it FOR YEARS.

    • renegademama

      I probably should have clarified, my “jealousy” is a pang of “Godddamnit I hate my house and my town. I want hers.”

      And then it’s over.

      It isn’t something I brood over, get resentful or bitter over. I’m grateful for my life. The perfect disaster of my life.

  • Lizaelha

    She HAS to be lying. There is no way her kid did all that in one day. Maybe she condensed a year into “one day?”

    And if she isn’t lying…well, my kids are just like yours. I think most of them are. And we just try to get through each day and hope for a few moments of beauty and sweetness, to make each day worth it.

    Oh, and about moving to Vermont, well, we did it. Sold everything and moved across the world. It is now two years later and we are planning to move back next June. Evidently, you are way smarter than we were to know that your people and life are where you are now.

    I think most of us are like you; just trying to get through, with moments of beauty to savour thrown in.

    • renegademama

      Kudos to you for doing it! I’m impressed. At least it must have been an adventure. Right?

  • Claire Galloway

    Best. Post. EVER

  • Claire

    Dude – Thanks so much for sharing this. You have a way of expressing… that I really appreciate (just discovered your work a couple days ago). **I’m trying to type this note while at the same time having a conversation with my 5 year old so its not going to be pretty** Just wanting to share a general “YES I feel the same way” to the “cant keep hearing about all these perfect families” stuff. I started out on my first baby as a 100% raw food, Waldorf, paint a full room mural of a field of flowers on my girl’s walls type of mama. Now, two more kids later and 10 years of life I celebrate when we go to the park or have a day without me loosing my shit.

    • renegademama

      Haha! Totally. We all start out with these giant plans, right? Ah, how they change. And in my opinion, not losing your shit ALL DAY is pretty freaking incredible. Definitely something to celebrate. If it ever happens for me, I’m celebrating.

      🙂

  • Christina

    That is exactly why I read your blog and NOT Soul-what-ever. Cuz your for real friend. Most everyone is full of shit!

    • renegademama

      Thank you! “Soul-what-ever.” KILLS ME.

      Cracked up.

  • tiffany

    I hate that you say your “slightly pathetic attempts to nourish our soul”. We all do the best that we can with what we have. I do not work but there is no time in my day for arts and crafts. If there is, I usually end up burning myself with the glue gun. You want to know something else, Janelle? I took a sabatocal from your blog for a similar reason. It hurt me to know that you have three demanding children and yet still make the time and have the confidence and the commitment to write your own blog. I enjoy writing. I enjoy words and language. I appreciate the beautiful, tragic, or peaceful emotions that words and stories create. But I don’t know where I can find the time, confidence, or commitment to write my own blog. But that doesn’t mean that I am forever “slightly patheitc” and it doesn’t even mean that I am “slightly pathetic” at all. It just means that my life is different from yours and it doesn’t do me justice to compare. I think you wanted to convey that weren’t going to compare yourself to people like that soule-lady but there still seems to be a little hurt as you realize that your life is different and that there is some granola or waldorf standard that might not meet. You are enough, you do enough, and you have enough just the way you are. I tell you what, I don’t want to waste my life balancing on a heirarchy of comparisons. I love your crazy family and laundry pile just the way they are because I understand it.

    • renegademama

      Thanks, Tiffany. I love this comment. I didn’t mean to call anybody else pathetic, and I certainly don’t think I am pathetic. I was more just being tongue-in-cheek, you know, like self-deprecating in an exaggerating way. I mean shit, I go to grad school, work, and raise three kids. And you’re right, I write a blog. Of course none of that is “pathetic.” I do a crapload, and I do it well. Mostly. 🙂

      But I have to say, the blog writing isn’t really something that adds stress or makes it that I can’t get my life done. Rather, it’s probably the thing that ENABLES me to get my life done. I made a promise when I started this thing that I would never write if I didn’t feel like it. I would never feel pressured, obligated or guilty (for not writing.) And that’s why I’m not one of those bloggers who always posts every other day, no matter what, or always gets their Sunday posts written on Sunday. I write because I love it, because it’s really, really, really fun for me, and it’s time to myself. I get to go WRITE. By myself.

      And now I’m kind of in a rhythm with my writing. HAHAHAHA! I have a rhythm! Yay!

      And to be honest, when I find myself delving into the hierarchical comparisons, I know what it is (bullshit) and I get out of it immediately. I’m damn grateful for my life. Every part of it. I do, however, hate where I live. And I compare my living arrangements to others’, and I get irritated. None of it, though, messes with me continually, or regularly. Because as I’ve said, my life is a damn miracle and I always get back to appreciating it as such.

      Thanks again. I appreciate your perspective on this.

  • Kristen

    Omg! I was dying laughing so hard, while half asit on the treadmill at the gym! My three kids in kidscare, wearing the same clothes they wore yesterday. Thank you for this post! I really really enjoyed it and can totally relate!

    • renegademama

      Haha! Done it. Un-bathed kids in the same clothes they wore yesterday….a normal part of my life. But I need to get my ass back on that damn treadmill. Well done!

  • Trish

    Word, Janelle, word.

  • Urban Mommy

    Yo! I’m with you. Lots of beautiful stuff within arms’ reach. And if you’re my three year old? EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE is within reach. That’s the way it should be.

    • renegademama

      Yeah, how exactly do they do that? I mean shit, those arms LOOK short. But they aren’t.

      OMGtheyaren’t.

  • miranda

    THANK YOU! I agree — that blog is beautiful but it gives me a complex. I don’t need to feel like I’m not measuring up. I’m more interested in the *whole* story of things anyway.

    • renegademama

      I’ve always been more drawn to the “whole” story. More interesting.

      However, she’s making a shitload of money with a “piece” of it…so she must be way smarter than me. Oh well. 🙂

  • Dee

    I don’t buy it. She must have come in to a serious bunch of money in order to afford the nanny, cook, and no doubt, personal trainer that she failed to mention. That list of accomplishments couldn’t be done in a week, i don’t care how super-mom she is.

    But that doesn’t matter, can you show us your friends cheap IKEA ideas for play areas? Or point us to her blog where she can show us? My almost two year old needs that. Pretty Please?

    • renegademama

      She doesn’t have a blog, but I’ll find the stuff she used at Ikea and post it, or send you an email. She’s rad.

      • Willow

        I’d like to see them too!!! Real, obtainable, affordable beauty!

  • Katie Vyktoriah

    I so get this. I can’t imagine how some of these women do it all. I have a 17 month old son and am 11 weeks pregnant, and we’ve just made a huge move from England to Florida after a decade living in the UK. We’ve had to start ALL over, first selling everything we owned and now trying to re-make an entire life in a place we’ve never lived. And I see only three kinds of people:

    There’s the “real life moms” I see in our neighborhood, who ignore their kids, scream and shout, and laugh when their four year old throws a plastic bat at my kid’s head….

    There’s the “mommy and me” crazy women who are constantly on the go, spending a fortune in gas and entrance fees to make sure that every single hour of every single day is go go go to Sea World, Disney World, the petting farm, and baby gym….

    And there’s the “mommy bloggers” who paint pictures so sweet that they make me want to test my blood sugar to see if I’ve developed diabetes from reading about their day to day lives. Just this week, I’ve seen a post about an Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party for a ONE YEAR OLD which included 50+ guests, long tables full of tiny and perfect petit fours, a treasure hunt in the local woods, and all the little girls in white lace dresses with tiny cotton gloves. FFS, they had baby bottles which were painted and made to look like nippled tea cups!

    I look at my two bedroom apartment, with my fiance working at a cramped desk in our bedroom, my son sleeping in his room which is full of second hand toys and books, my counters cluttered and full of used paper towels and dirty dishes, and I instagram every single tiny thing I can to prove that our life is something more than just getting by.

    • renegademama

      You just wrote my post better than I did. Goddamnit that happens all the time around here!

      DIED when I read the diabetes thing. Hysterical.

      And thank god for Instagram. We all look cool on Instagram…

    • Selina

      Katie, this is just what I needed to hear (as is the original post,) as I sit here in my 1-bedroom apartment in Belgium, with the floor speckled with toys, half-packed boxes, slightly wilted balloons from my birthday 6 weeks ago that have never been put away, and random things my son shouldn’t be able to reach or play with but does anyways.

      Because we’re moving back to my homeland of Canada in a month and this seems to be my reality. As much as I try to homemake and “de-clutter” and perfect my day-to-day in order to make space for the wooden toys, soft colours. . . oh, and myself, (right!) I am starting to accept I can’t. But it’s good to hear that people do survive these trans-atlantic moves and still manage to make their instagram feed reflect that this chaotic time is still cool enough to show off to friends.

  • Vanessa

    I appreciate you for being real. That’s why I read every post of yours. I can’t stand when bloggers say things like “I’m not perfect” or “it’s not like this everyday,” and yet what they post is always perfect and beautiful. Or even their suffering is perfect and beautiful. Someone recently posted a quote on instagram about how we compare our bad days to everyone else’s highlight reels. So true. Anyway, thank you for sharing your everyday, not just your highlight reel.

    • renegademama

      Thank you, I’m glad you’re here. That thing you said about their suffering being perfect and beautiful? THAT was perfect and beautiful. Because you’re right. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about this polish – this weird sheen they place on everything, even the dark suffering — that somehow, even THAT can be conveyed as beautiful.

      Your statement will stick with me for a long time.

  • Stefanie

    I love reading your blogs. I love that they are real and funny. It reassures me that I am not perfect, but I am doing my best at this motherhood thing. I would LOVE that beautiful life of the Soule mom, but, hey, this is my life and I love it and I am doing my best!

  • Becky

    I found you from a link from another blog and then sat down and read everything starting from day on.
    Now I shall comment 😉

    I have a (naked, in my lap, playing with my ring and headbutting me) son who will be one August 15. I’ve certainly read those blogs. Those blogs are for fantasizing. Finding little bits that sound fantastic and doable and doing them. Or just rooting for them – that they can paint a pretty picture about something as charming as butchering turkeys.

    I read your blog because it makes me feel okay. They feel like the dream we dream when we find out we’re pregnant and we had been wanting it for so long: my life will be magical and my children will appreciate and be passionate in every moment.

    You feel like a friend who’s living a life similar to mine. Where you get to talk about the shit on the floor and the baby who has an adorable need to hump his father’s face at bedtime (It’s hilarious! Don’t know what else to call it.).

    Okay, now I have to go read Hop on Pop again.

    • renegademama

      OH MY GOD the face-humping thing. I love that beyond words. And it’s funny, when I read the comments of most of the readers here, I too feel like we’re friends. It’s weird, isn’t it? I love it.

  • jennifer

    Yeah, she’s lying. And if any of it IS true – guess what? That kid is gonna get his ASS KICKED in high school. Doesn’t that make you feel better?

    • Diane

      This is an ugly thing to say- I’m embarrassed for you.

    • Annelies

      Her kids are home schooled. Specifically, a version of homeschooling called Radical Unschooling. They will never be in high school.

  • Rachel

    Totally relate to everything you say. Over the weekend, my five-year-old daughter and 5-year-old niece rose earlier than everyone else in the house so they could flood the bathroom, cover our Chihuahua in blue eye-shadow and then unintentionally injure the poor thing while painting his toenails pink. I woke up to the yelping. The girls said they thought they were being helpful because the evening before I had gotten a little upset over the general messiness of the house and the fact that the dog needed a bath.

    Anyway, another fun-to-read-post for a real mother. Always a pleasure to read. 🙂

    Cheers ~ Rachel ~

    • MamaDawn

      Its great how “helpful” they can be and then you feel like a shit for getting mad even though they obviously didn’t think it through. Or when the ten year old is happy to vaccuum because Nana is coming for a visit but then leaves the hose snaked across thenfloor so that you trip and almost break an ankle. Yep. Janelle, your blog is like you have channeled me somehow. Stay real.

  • Deee

    I was just coming here to say not to compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. It’s already been said, I see. And FWIW, I have a kid who is Calvin-like…but also uber-bossy and annoys the ish out of his sibs at times. I usually leave the second part off my blog. 😉

  • Jack

    I second Dee’s request. We smoosh together flotsam and jetson and call it awesome, and I love to see others doing so.

    To get personal for a moment though, y’know, you don’t know my person, it occurred to me just within the last few days that part of my current dissatisfaction probably stems from these glimpses into others’ lives, ones that I feel are “better” than what I’ve got on.

    fwiw I’m standing here typing this with one hand, eating boxed mac n cheese from the pot on the stove and halfheartedly nursing my 3-month-old, being jealous of you cuz you’ve got family in town.

  • Jack

    (plus also you write an awesome blog)

  • Rebekah Costello

    I could have written this entire post. The whole thing. My favorite part?

    “my life just isn’t that beautiful. No matter how hard I try, it just isn’t aesthetically pleasing. It isn’t calm, wholesome or carefully crafted in gorgeous wood. It’s loud, messy, stinky and a little frenzied. It’s plastic and metal and occasionally, it’s frozen food. It’s a few successes and glorious days scattered among hours of messiness and rushing and struggling and flailing.”

    I couldn’t have described my life more perfectly. And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it, dammit, not for all the hand-made, wholesome, perfectness in the world. My life is gritty and grimy and it’s all mine and I love it.

  • Hels

    Love this! Your blog speaks to me on such a personal level. You say all the things I feel! I get this feeling EVERY day! I seem to get so little done during the day and I just have a 5 month old, and I don;t go to work, I can barely keep on top of the housework let alone make a sensory water bowl and a salt zen garden for my baby to play in. Thanks for keeping it real and telling the truth. I people who portray their lives as being perfect difficult to relate to because they aren’t like me. I get on well with people who aren’t afraid to show their flaws because then I am not afraid to share mine.

  • Jennifer PM

    There’s definitely something to this. I think it must be related to the research showing that no matter how much money you make, if you hang out with people with more than you do you feel “poor”. So, don’t hang out with people richer than you, and don’t follow people who are craftier than you = greater happiness, or at least satisfaction. I can live with that!

  • Jo Teague

    Glad it’s not just me!

  • Samantha

    Oh I love you. 🙂 I also adore blogs like soulemama and barefoot something and all the other pretty wholesome blogs. And I also developed a complex from reading them, but it has passed. I’m not going to be like them.. But they call to something in my heart so I’ll take it. 😉 and here is a little tidbit that should make you smile, I’ve been reading the “wholesome” blogs for over a year, maybe even two and most of them don’t have TVs which is inspiring, but I didnt cut tv out of my kids life until I read you post about it. Since you wrote that post my kids have watched 3 movies. That’s it! On family nights to boot! They still get the odd iPhone fix but they PLAY!! 🙂 so there ya go, your more action inspiring than “them”!

  • Deeann

    Thanks for writing this for us.

    I get jealous a lot. About tons of things. I see it as finding goals. The hard part is remembering to do all the work it takes to get there.

  • eringirl

    wait, YOU PIN?

    bahahahahaha

  • Angharad

    See, this is why I read your blog, and not THOSE OTHER BLOGS. Because I know, objectively, that I’m not a terrible mother, but blogs like that make all my inadequacies sting. I can see my own life and my own parenting reflected here; even though I’m at home at the moment, I’m still flying by the seat of my pants and I’m about to relaunch my career as a single working/studying mother and there’ll be no knitting, no chickens, no fucking preserving our own garden produce. There’ll just be yelling and mess, and a highly-strung toddler, and a seven-year-old who acts like it’s a personal affront every time I ask her to maybe pick up a week’s worth of her own dirty socks off the living room floor. AND YOUR BLOG IS HERE, SO I KNOW I’M NOT ALONE.

  • Michael Ann

    If it seems too good to be true….

    There is no effin’ way.

    No one is that perfect and no family is that perfect. I hate to be mean but honestly, I don’t buy it for one second. It LOOK like that from the outside but no way….

  • Claire

    She makes her living being seen as having it all together – have you seen the titles of her books or read Taproot? Yikes…

  • Christy

    Don’t sweat your real life or believe for one second that what you’re giving your family isn’t enough. As I’ve read through your blogs, I see a REAL MOM. One who doesn’t shy away from saying the shit that most moms are afraid to say out loud. The thing is, the rest of us are so relieved that we’re not alone when we see you put it out there. My kids are in their teens now, but the difference between my kids and the ones raised by those “perfect moms” is that my kids are self sufficient, they know that mom losing her shit doesn’t mean she doesn’t love them, they understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them & (best of all) they are just fine with that. Keep doing what works for you & your family and all of you will be just fine! I’d have a playdate in your trailer anytime!

  • sara

    she is lying. those pictures are from pottery barn or a studio, where the rest of her house looks just as bad as anyone else. OR she is single and living in NYC in a studio.

  • Candy

    Her life could be real, no really, it could. My 14 yr old son got up and made breakfast this morning. No, wait, he also ate all of the bacon while holding it above his sister’s head and laughing at her tears. Well, my daughter went to feed the pets without being told. Of course, she also called first dibs on computer time because she had already done all of her “chores”. My oldest cleaned the kitchen, and folded and put away two loads of laundry. Shortly before she asked for a ride to the mall 30 minutes away.
    Shit, my kids are self-serving little brats, aren’t they?

    • Penny

      Bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha… MINE TOO!

    • Kylie

      seriously, I’m in to building up kids and making them strong, enjoying their life and all that. But I read soulemama (just did it today actually), and I remind myself “this is Performance Art”…

      and fuck to the no are your’s the only kids who scream like hyena’s to get their own way. I’ve even started saying “for the love of god, please do what ever it takes to stop your sister making that noise! GIVE HER WHAT EVER IT IS SHE WANTS PLEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASE!!!”

      Kylie

      • Claire

        totally sounds like something I’d say

  • Penny

    Well… um… you’ve seen my kids. Guess I’m failing right along side you! (Wait, didn’t we have this conversation?) LOL

    By the way… lavender is a hormone disrupter. Might as well chew plastic! Ha, ha

    And your kids are beautiful, sweat and kind. I’d rather hang out with them any day than a little Mr. Perfection.

  • Mom of 5

    Seriously…she is TOTALLY lying! and when you decide to be real, (as you do), then you connect with people on a real level…(as you do)! It helps break down those barriers that keep us from opening up to each other. By being real you may help someone and not even realize it. Just think if more people stopped trying to hide behind “perfectionism” , how much we could actually learn from each other. 🙂

  • Angela

    Thank you Janelle for being real. My grandma used to tell a great story about an italian woman listening to another woman talk about her wonderful life. The italian woman nodded and said “that’s nice” to each part. An on looker asked her why she said that to everything. She replied “my mom told me to say that instead of b*** sh**.”

    I always think, “that’s nice” when I read those blogs. 🙂

    I am a single working mom of a 2 year old boy and I sometimes get jealous of your life. I co sleep and breastfeed because it is easier. I also use disposable diapers because it is easier. 1/2 our food is microwaved. I yell sometimes. Our kids will be ok.

    Your kids are beautiful and I love reading your blog. You are my imaginary friend.

  • Renee'

    I was reading this at work and was totally laughing outloud. She is not normal; you and the rest of the world are! Best post I have ever read!!!

  • Calamity Jane

    I guess you know I love this post. So been there babe.
    I just half-watched The Lie last night. It was too depressingly real to finish, but featured an awesome song titled Soul Crusher. Ah the little coincidences/conspiracies of life…
    (I accidentally wrote “dong” instead of “song” up there just now. As I was saying.)

  • sara moon

    this post made my shitty week oh so much better. so so so so so so so good. serendipity i found it today. this was my introduction to you and i have seen been reading all of your posts and giggling my way through. oh how i love your writing.

  • Shan

    Dude, seriously, there has to be something wrong here. And I don’t mean with you. I was talking to someone recently who I *KNOW* has an asshole of a kid, but you would think the kid floats around on a cloud of cotton candy all day because Mom thinks the person is, and I quote, “Perfect!”

    Denial ain’t pretty. Unless you write a blog where you make that shit up. Just sayin’. (Full disclosure, I wasn’t speaking with Soule Mama, so it wasn’t her.)

  • Rachael@Mogantosh

    I love this post. Just yesterday in the shower I was thinking hard about Soulemama. It could be true, I thought. She homeschools, so it cuts out a lot of the running around, and the big kids are older, so maybe they help heaps more. Her husband doesn’t work because her work supports the family, so that makes a massive difference.

    But.

    Five kids, a farm, a baby, a whole-food from-scratch daily menu, preserving, crafting, maintaining a daily blog, and now publishing a magazine?

    It doesn’t follow that she can do all that without dropping the bundle on aspects of it frequently if not constantly, or doing those things with a massive amount of help. Neither possibilities are mentioned on her blog, and that’s what gives me the shits.

    Either it’s true, and she is an utter goddess, or it’s bullshit blogshine, in which case it’s fucked.

    In the end, I enjoy her site as a inspiring kind of fairytale.

    Thanks for this! I LOVED it.

  • Dawn

    Love it. True. Here’s the thing. It’s all about honesty. We had a rough rough move from TX to Alaska, I spent the first 2 years trying to find a niche, survive. I find these ladies who stare at me like I’m an aboslute freak when I tell them I’m frustrated that my kids dont’ ever sleep, don’t ever shutup, and tell me they feel sorry for me that I have such a miserable life. So I go home, feeling like I must be failing (before that I was really just complaining to make people laugh and hear their stories..you know, misery loves company), tell my husband who works with their husbands….yeeeeah…turns out they were so full of crap. Their kids are miserable beasts just like mine. It still bothers me 8 years later why they felt compelled not only to lie, but to try and make me feel bad about what I was feeling. Antidote…I quit seeing those ladies. And I try to screen for real people. That’s why your “playdate cards” are ingenious. Honesty from the get-go. I’d love to read about you getting rid of your TV though…..if you take requests

  • Miriam Stone Wilson

    I’ll try to contain my enthusiasm so I don’t come across as too crazy, but OMG I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU. You are my new favorite edge of the Internet. I have been a follower of Soule Mama for years. I keep going back partly because I get a lot of inspiration from her and partly because I’m sure there’s part of myself that I hate and need to inflict punishment on. I always feel inadequate after reading her (pretty awesome) blog, but I go back because she fulfills some Laura-Ingalls-Wilder-meets-Natural-Martha-Stewart-meets-June-Cleaver fantasy of mine. Maybe if I canned more or had pigs I would have the mental clarity to parent and create like her, but more likely I’d get pissed because the pigs were noisy and put people in danger by not properly sterilizing my jars. Sigh. There is amanda Soule, and then there are mere mortals.

  • Mychelle

    a fab friend of mine has been talking about your blog for yonkers and i FINALLY read some of your posts YAY!!! Your writing is sensational!! You are fabulous! Introspective, sensitive, intuitive a full blown straight up!!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!

  • Kate Hoggins

    as just another stranger commenting on your work: remember, YOU are normal/average/ok. and special, unique, and funny: “drunk yardwork” *snort* reminded me of a neighbor who rolled his riding lawnmower on a slope in the yard and came up standing beer in hand presented to the world. thank you for your honest words. hugs.

  • Caryl

    When I read blogs like the one you are describing, I think ‘bullshit’ and move on.

    Life is hard. It helps when bloggers keep it real.

    Best,
    Caryl

  • Lesley

    As a long-time, I mean LONG time reader of SouleMama (c/o Mango Mama – anyone remember her?)….I have to say I have a love/hate relationship with her blog….today, for me it is all about the beautiful pictures of her home…And I have bought a book and made a thing or two from it with a thing or two in the works.

    But what I love is the idea…the foundation behind what she does: that being a Mama is an Art.

    And also? she is making money at it – not booku, but some and I love and support her wholeheartedly.

    And yes if you were to write a book? I would snatch it up in an instant!

    *smooches*

  • Vanessa

    I just accidentally liked my own comment. So, I fail at the Internet.

  • Lindsey

    I’d never heard of SouleMama until I read this post, and now I know to steer clear. So thanks for that.

    Blogs like that make me rage a little inside. They make me ache, because as much as I know she’s full of shit, I want it. And I want to not want it. And you know, as lovely as her life looks, and maybe even is, she’s making her living off of other people’s insecurities. I admire that way of life. But I do not admire the pastoralization of motherhood. This shit is hard. And no doubt there are women out there who consume her blog to fill the same longing that some of us fill with pints of ice cream at midnight. She reinforces a neo-cult of domesticity that is more destructive than inspirational for many of us. Is that really a noble way to earn a dollar?

    No one is reading her and thinking “yes, this woman is just like me, finally a blog I can relate to.” That’s why we come here.

  • anna N.

    WOW!! This speaks PERFECTLY TO ME!! It’s like your reading my thoughts… Thanks for this AMAZING POST!!

  • Al

    Renegade Mama, thank you for your genuine words. I appreciate how you let it all out, the good, the bad and the ugly. I think carefully romanticized public faces are kinda boring, like a first date, full of worry the other person will realize that we have faults. I’m all for date 50, or 100, when you accept the complex totality of the other person, and of course, get to put out.

    BTW we had chickens when I was little, and SouleMama’s making it sound soooo much more romantic than it actually is. The eggs come covered in chickenshit and feathers, and the chickens peck you when you gather them cause you are technically stealing their babies in order to eat them. Just like a fairytale witch.

  • Emily @ Take Me Back to Tennessee (formerly of Southerners in SoCal) ;)

    I totally and completely get this. There are several blogs I’ve had to stop reading for this same reason, and none of them were even close to the caliber of perfection apparently written about on SouleMama’s blog. You want to know how sensitive I am to that kind of shit? I couldn’t even click on the link to her blog to check it out for myself — your description and excerpt alone were almost too much for me to handle. I think I do a pretty damn good job but, still, when I read how above and beyond some mothers go it’s completely disheartening. “Soule crushing” is exactly right. And why put yourself through that? You know you’re doing the best you can with what you have so I see no reason to rub it in your own face. Anyway, just wanted to add my voice to all the others of support! Us “ordinary” moms have to stick together, so thanks for writing this honest, funny (as usual) post 🙂

  • Misti

    I’ll be honest, it seems like a lot of complaining and bitching in here. A lot of judgy-judgy going on too. Who cares if her son really does or doesn’t do that all in one day? He might. As for how people get things done that they show on their blog, they have their ways and means and usually it means giving up something—probably surfing the internet mindlessly—in return for doing what they really love.

    As an aside, I used to subscribe to her blog but didn’t like the multiple giveaway/ad posts. I now only just drop in a few times a month to see what is going on so those other posts are clogging up my feed. I have no strong feelings one way or the other about her—I don’t know her so why get upset about the life she may or may not lead?

    If there is one thing people who read blogs need to know is that the writers behind them really do only show snippets of their real life (unless they really do write the nitty gritty and those are few and far between). Take it with a grain of salt, enjoy a chill pill and call it a day.

    (Found your blog in regards to the Mother Earth Asshole post and just kept reading from there, but this post just irked me a little bit)

  • amy

    i loathe the soulemama blog but am fascinated by it at the same time… i have been reading her blog for many years now and the thing that drives me most nuts is the hundreds of loyal readers who defend her wholeheartedly without really knowing her or much about her real life… they get furious if anyone dares to say a bad word about her- it’s like they really think they know her and believe she is their friend… and i guess that’s why she has such a successful blog… because if you can make a reader REALLY feel like a friend, you can sell them anything… and by golly she does sell some things… she only has to mention and product and it starts flying off the shelves because people so desperately want to be living the bullshit she is pretending is her real life… they think, “if only i had that cute little cup her daughter is drinking out of, if only i had that wooden kitchen, if only i had all that fancy art equipment- maybe my life would be a little more like soulemamas”

    and of course it’s total crap… her life is just like any other mothers… i actually have this theory that the reason we don’t see the older kids on the blog so much anymore is because they have totally run wild and are completely feral and she can’t control them… i think they probably give her the finger in most pictures she takes of them so she can’t show it on the blog…

    i guess i could paint a similar picture of my life to soulemama’s if i wanted to make it look that way… i live in the country on some land… we grow out vegetables, i can food, i sew my children’s clothes, we do art and craft together- but is my life shiny and picture perfect? lordy no… my life is hard and if my garden is looking beautiful, then my house is probably a mess (actually my house is a mess most of the time because cleaning is something i don’t have much time for) sometimes i want to say and do say to my son, “please no painting today because i just can’t cope with cleaning it all up”…

    i have butchered turkeys, chickens and lambs and that is hard, brutal and ugly business… i does stink and everytime it makes me a little sick in the stomach…

    i yell at my kids cause for half the day they drive me crazy… i love them to bits but they know exactly what buttons to push to drive me insane…

    i don’t think it’s in anyone’s benefit to paint a picture of life through rose coloured glasses- nor does it benefit anyone to concentrate on the things that go wrong everyday… just a little bit of reality and perspective is good for everyone and i know i’d appreciate a bit of reality on soulemama’s blog… i actually actively refuse to support her little empire… i will never click on any links she has on her blog, would never buy a book from amazon that is linked to her name to make her some more money… would never buy from one of her sponsors and would certainly never buy one of her books…

    • Angela

      Like you, I have a love/hate relationship with that blog. Or like/dislike I guess. What I really can’t stand are the people who comment every single day about how THEY just did that thing last weekend too, and where did she get that kind of toothbrush. I also refuse to click any of the links her every post is full of.

  • Nicolette

    You spoke right from my heart!
    I’m standing, stuffed more like, on an overcrowded bus
    On my way home to my two year old. I don’t see him before
    Dark everyday- and I print and paste Soulemama pictures on my office door!

  • Helen

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can always trace a path from looking at those blogs to a bitter depression. I’ve stopped looking at most of them just for my own health.
    I frequently get compliments on what a good mother I am, which must go to show that people are judging their insides based others’ outsides. Whenever I receive such compliments, I often think, “Really? But soulemama has a HOUSE and they do uber crafty frontiersman stuff!” But my kids are very loving and clever, so people credit me. Which is nice.

    My husband and I work so hard, and we live in a little apartment with found or donated furniture, and dammit if I’m not too exhausted to wrestle my little one into a shower at the end of the day. She’s like a lovely little feral thing, and I admire her tenacity. (If not always her smell.)

    Reading this post made me tear up. Honesty makes us all healthier mothers. In this culture, mothers need all the validation we can get. So Thank You! I definitely feel like we could be friends.

  • Jen

    This post made me laugh my ass off.
    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • lisa

    thanks that was really refreshing to read … I just found your blog and love it!

  • Barbara

    I just found your blog and I have been riveted to it exploring and reading for about an hour. What a fun, honest and perfect place. Your (exaggerated) honesty is what makes it perfect. Each blog post is a tiny rocket ride of fun.

    I have 3 children, and I am not the mom I dreamed I’d be, It was easier in my imagination. 🙂 I wade my way through it by laughing at myself as much as I can…

    Please keep it up!

    • renegademama

      Thank you for coming, and welcome! We have a lot of fun here. Sarcasm Safe Zone, I like to call it. And thank for recognizing that it’s exaggerated! Sometimes I wish there were a sarcasm font…you know, for people with, ahem, “different” senses of humor. (I wanted to say no sense of humor, but I DIDN’T!).

      That’s called “improvement.”

      Cheers!

  • Knitting with Olof

    LOL I´m Soule Mama lover but I really loved this post. Thank you! I do look at Soule Mama as inspiring and she does live the life I wish I did. I´m crafty but it does come at an expense to my family. My kids can watch too much Netflix one day or another because I need to finish a project and my kids fight and I blame myself for not teaching my children to pick up and force them to be in the habit of making things for each other and cleaning and so fourth. As a therapist I know that if I raise my children in the habit of cleaning up after themselves they will do it for life and won´t bitch and moan because it´s just what you do like wiping your ass after taking a dump. But I had 3 kids in a little over 4 years and I spend too much time online (see where I am) and if I would quit being online as much as I am then I would craft more with my kids, play more with my kids and my house would be spotless and I wouldn´t be so fat. But I have a bad habit. The internet. OK it´s time for coffee so that I can shut my laptop and aspire to be like Soule Mama LOL 😉
    Thank you for saying what many are afraid of saying. She is getting better about posting about the bickering that happens between the kids. That it is more the norm but you go girl and we all do the best we can with what we have.

  • Kerry

    Thanks for this post..soooo much!

  • Liz

    I admit…I don’t usually read blogs. However, a friend posted (on facebook), your post about becoming a Mother. It was magnificent.
    So, I read a bunch of your other posts. All fantastic. This one was particularly fantastic…and oh.so.damn.true. For what it’s worth, I think you sound like an outstanding mother.

  • Brogeybear

    Yes!! Hence why I started my “bitter blog”, and I can’t even do that constantly

  • Rachael (Tales from the Village)

    I think I love you. I call my blog ‘an imperfect lifestyle blog’ because there’s too much gin and chocolate in my life, and much as I’d love to be the next Martha Stewart…well, even Martha isn’t Martha in real life. I have a really bad perfect-blog reading habit and it makes me feel like crap. Hallelujah for real life mothers and real life blogs.

  • Jenna

    I liked the initial blog post, very tongue in cheek and amusing… but then I made the mistake of reading the comments and a lot of them made me feel a little sick to my stomach as the nastiness and jealous wafted off them.

  • Sarah

    God, thank you so much for writing this. You have a beautiful, honest way with words that Soulemama seriously cannot TOUCH. I would far rather read about this real shit than her “oh, my!” sachharine nonsense. I mean, yeah, her blog is so beautiful and I do love gazing at the photos of her impossibly dreamy life, but it doesn’t feel quite real to me. This does.

  • kyndale

    Thank you for this. 🙂

  • holly

    wow. are we living the same life?!?! right ON sista! (tee hee)

  • Sarah

    I just loved your post…basically said what I was thinking/feeling. I admire your honesty and vulnerability…it’s perfectly imperfect…just like everything else in this crazy world we live in.
    From one crazyass busy mother to another~here’s to getting through the day in one piece:)
    Sincerely,
    Sarah
    (mother of three and wonder woman wannabe)

  • HeatherS

    I felt so much better after reading this possibly totally untrue report that there’s a nanny and a mom helping Soulemama out. http://getoffmyinternets.net/forums/mommy-bloggers/soulemama/page-8/

    I remember reading a ton of blogs like Soulemama’s when my son was a young toddler. I’m a SAHM and we were really, really broke at that time, and I was feeling terribly guilty about my decision to quit my job. I was thinking, I am doing this ALL WRONG. All these people are homesteading and have 8 kids each, but somehow THEY manage to buy their kids all the “right” expensive Waldorf toys, and make all their food from scratch, and have a huge garden and preserve all their food, and make all their kids’ clothes and homeschool and etc etc, and do it all while in a cloud of poetical maternal bliss and never have a bad day. I bet there’s a similar story (surprising income sources, extra help behind the scenes, etc) behind a lot of these blogs.

  • Lucas James

    Love this!
    Lucas

  • Miriam

    Great post.

  • heather

    Thanks so much for this refreshing post. It was a little heartbreaking, I have felt the same way reading some of these blogs, Soulemama in particular. I am doing some of the same things she is doing (homeschooling, crafting) but with ‘only’ three children and in suburbia. I can’t get over how freaking productive she is. I fall face first into bed at night after ‘only’ caring for the kids and the house all day. Zero crafting usually – certainly no large-scale gardening, sewing lovely dresses or hosting parties. 🙂 I just try to remember who *I* am and not compare but you’re right, it’s hard! I pretty much have to stop going there and just focus on what I have going on here. 😉

  • ivesbell

    I accidentally found this blog while doing my monthly check in with Soule Mama. This post almost made me cry it was so wonderful. I love looking at Soule Mama’s blog but it often makes me feel inadequate. I had no idea so many people read her blog or so many people had a love hate relationship with it. I have four kids and love my life but I know we will never have the time and money to do what Soule Mama does and that’s okay. I can’t wait to read more of your blog, thanks for your post.

  • Suzi Satterfield

    You know, sometimes I have days when I beat myself up because we’re not going to the park every day or I’m not making beautiful meals. I don’t knit. I’m not allowed to sew (because bad things happen when I touch needles and thread). And arts and crafts projects? I hate that crap.

    At the end of the day, we have fun. We play. We watch more TV than we should. Oh, and while I was writing this comment, I had to go shampoo the couch because my potty training child peed on it.

  • Allison Jane young

    I am sorry but I am not with you on this one. I can understand why we decided not to stay In America . All you guys do is constantly put other people down and for what ? Self gratification like you bitch as you have nothing else better to do with your time. So what if she has help? What has it got to do with you nada zip.
    There is families like that all over the world helping their parents and other siblings. My son who has let school in the uk is helping me during the summer break as I work full time.so am I a slave driver an evil mother ?
    And that GOMI Jesus holy mother of god only you lot can think of that. Find better ways of using your time. I have never known such a bitchy nation of women in my entire life! If you don’t like the blog stay away from it. Surely when you were a kid you were taught that. Ffs
    Get a life and grow up we are meant to be role models for our kids.

  • JJ

    Thank you thank you thank you! This post sums it up for me, you could be saving women’s lives here! I dared to read a few soule-crushers when I first heard about it…lawd have mercy. Janelle we need you and your voice! We the imperfect non chicken raising, unopened craft supplies and haven’t started a baby book for my 3 year old, type of mothers (that’s me). I’m up late reading because I’m weaning the said 3 year old and doing so by hiding in my basement (mama is at work tonight). Boy and hubby are asleep and I’m not because I can’t decide if I fucked up more by nursing this long or by giving in to the pressure of feeling like 3 is too old, so I pulled the plug.
    I apologize for all the run on sentences. Please keep up the good work and may lots of people send you money to keep us all laughing!

  • European mom

    The thing is that you American raise your children the wrong way. Way too much spoiled, too much materialistic, too much junk (ej food, TV).
    Try, like Soulemama, more books + nature+ healthy Life.
    And communicate with your kids.

  • Lori

    This ia the best post I have ever read!,,,,

  • Susan

    Oh, I enjoyed this piece. Funny and spot on. My kids are mostly grown but I am still not immune to reading posts by perfect parents and thinking, wow, missed that boat. My kids -two grown, one teen, are great funny irreverent people but no one ever got up at dawn to recite poetry while feeding chickens…

  • Helenb

    I cried laughing reading this post and its so true it really is. All this posting perfection really plays with your head. I got totally sucked in awhile back visiting blogs devouring other peoples perfect lives beating myself up because no matter how I tried I couldnt replicate it despite all their advice, tips and tutorials.
    My blog is a sad little repro of the perfect blog and my subscriber numbers tell the truth of it.
    I lost sight of why I started the blog which was I liked writing and publishing and cant stand competing never have. Unfortunately it started to feel like I was competing though I was never a genuine contender.
    So I have stopped with the beauty and gone for the content its been hard and Ive weened myself off of my pinterest and instagram addiction as well.
    Im on a hiatus from my blog Ill resume it again one day when I feel I have better boundaries on what it is supposed to represent.
    I never thought that their could be withdrawal symptoms for giving up blog surfing but there is it takes as much of my willpower not to eat all the chocolate in one hit as it does to go online and not get caught up in blog fairyland.

    Thanks for the post I may visit here again or may not depending on my habits but I think youll understand 🙂

  • Willow

    I was just sent the link to your post from a friend…and thank you! I do follow soule-mama and my partner is always teasing me about how utterly ridiculously unrealistic it is. When I’m having tough moments he sometimes mocks me by saying in a tongue-in-cheek tone, “what would soulemama do?”. THanks for being so refreshingly REAL! Being a full-time Mummy to my two little ones on a Friday night (with the littlest one coming out of our co-sleeping bedroom AGAIN) I’m too exhausted to write more. But thank you! I will be checking out your other posts.

  • Charli

    I do tend to think that these people get caught up with living their life on show, which is sad as they must live through a camera lense. I have struggled with envy especially as I have friends who blog about their perfect lives. I just wanted to say that if there are any Christians out there that struggle with this read 1john 1:15-18. I thought it was very encouraging in this area.

  • Hi

    Remember that time I googled “soul-crushing toddlers?” I got your blog. Also, that happened. I googled “soul-crushing toddlers.”

  • Kerri

    Honestly Renegade Mama, that is the best thing I have read on the internet in a long time. Thanks for the raw truth. I would hazard a guess that more that half of the ‘soul’ readers have lives that look like yours and mine. For reals.

  • MissFifi

    I just pissed my pants. I think a lot of blogs are like Facebook, people only post the pretty parts are beef it up a bit. No fucking way that child does all that unless he is the second coming of Christ which I have already claimed as the title for my son who was born on Christmas. 🙂
    Can’t wait to read all of your posts!

  • kthnxbye

    Uhm, you get people like that usually have domestic help, right? And independent income that means she has no stresses about money or the rest of it? And if it isn’t like that, she’s probably on medications that make her think her life is the way she describes, when it’s really not?

    Not hating, just… there’s always more to that catalog-looking life than meets the eye. Always.

  • Heidi

    I see its fine for you to bash other people on here, but you like to hide negative comments about your blog. i reiterate… get a grip.

  • sam

    Wow, I wish I had read this sooner. It would have saved me all those months of feeling inadequate!

  • Sarah

    It was her son’s birthday, okay? It was a special message to him. Of course she left out the yelling and arguing! Her blog is her own work of art.

  • Wanda

    Different strokes for different folks, i personally never felt envy for Amanda’s life or i should say, the life she portrays she has. Lets hear about the good and bad about being a parent living with 5 kids on a farm with a stay at home dad, imperfections are interesting! I’m also not a fan of her writing style, it’s ridiculously saccharine and seems quite inauthentic, like a poorly written page out of a Little House on the Prarie book. What’s also very disconcerting are her fans, it seems very cult like in the comment section, it kinda creeps me out truth be told. Overall, just not my cup of tea.

  • Kri

    wow, I’ve read this entire post to my husband and we laughed so hard I almost peed myself… I still go to see souleamama’s blog, because I like to sew and I like to get ideas,
    but when I discovered her blog that is exactly how I felt: I mean that is how it seems: ideal and perfect.
    well, I don’t believe in that image any more, and it does not have any effect on me at all, and I’m so happy about that, but thank you so much to express these feelings in such a hilarious way, I will share this post, women/ mothers need to understand what reality is and what is image…. and you can see that all over: on perfect little blogs, in homeschool coops, in unscholing playdates, everybody is trying to paint fake pics of their life, oh, did I forget about face book…. that is an other soul crasher

  • Dana

    O.M.G. I totally had the same moment with Soule!! Not the same post, but one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. I sure as shit don’t read blogs to feel like crap about myself. I can do that just fine on my own. So I stopped reading her and never looked back. Thank you for sharing your awesomely honest perspective. I am new to you (via Friendship Manifesto, awesome) and clicked uiurfor new here page and saw this blog post title and thought, could it be?! And yes it was.
    -Dana (new reader for life unless your kids start to pluck chickens and knit each other parkas)

  • Dana

    Oh now I remember when I quit her! After she started a literary magazine I was like, oh F this, I’m done.

  • ellen crimi-trent

    LOVE IT- yes I to used to look at her blog and thought- this is insane- who does this? really? I work my ass off as an illustrator to put food on my table so there is no knitting here- maybe if I lived in a place where housing costs little to none- but I don’t I live 20 min south of Boston and nothing is cheap.

    Smoke and Mirrors is what ppl are on the internet plain and clear – the biggest compliment I get is ” your just like you are on your Facebook” yeah- you know why? because I am REAL! I don’t pretend- I am an Aries with Sag rising- lying and pretending can’t even come close out of our mouths- we are honest to a fault- so no way am I putting bullshit out there!

    when I complain I get ” you complain a lot” seriously ppl stop monitoring others- take care of yourself- enough with ppl telling you how you should live and how wonderful they have it- its all a lie- seriously Utopia does not exist- you have days or moments but not everyday-

    I take the moment that is all!

  • Dana

    Yeah, and then if she shared every bad thing that happened in her life too, people would be picking apart everything about her life and criticizing everything she does and generally just being miserable trolls.

    I have seen it happen.

    It almost gives me joy to see this many people feeling insecure about a blog where all the bad stuff’s left out. Cause y’all *know* you’d be first with the knives if it were anything else.

    What it actually comes down to is what Flylady likes to call Sidetracked Home Executives versus the Born Organized. And not wanting her dirty laundry out there in the world for people who hate her to pick apart. I’m not saying anyone here hates her, but if she shared that side of things, maybe you would. I’ve seen that happen too. It’s like you know where you’re failing as parents and maybe if you make her into the scapegoat sacrifice, no one will notice your crap instead.

    MAN I love the Internet.

  • Kimberly T

    This is one of the best things I’ve ever read. Seriously. Thank you.

  • Sarah

    Have only just come across your blog. Being across the pond so to speak we love those blogs that seem so perfect. However we have learnt the hard way that to live like that you need to have money and a lot of it! It is good to have a reminder about real life.
    No way over here would children be allowed to lit fires, chop wood etc unsupervised.
    So is it okay if I just look at the pictures?…

  • Kelli

    I found this post seriously funny and thought provoking. I have read soulemama for a long time. What I have noticed is she used to sew and sell her products from her blog. She lived in a small home dreaming of a farm. I never noticed products from places like Target, etc. I notice she has spent a great deal of time working, acquiring book deals, and making due with what she has. Pictures do not always tell a complete story. To me, it is not about comparing but enjoying another families joys in life.

  • Lindsay

    Omg! This is my life, right down to the linoleum floor and 1970’s original kitchen! The only thing I have in common with soule mama is that I have five kids but instead of being a picture of wholesome motherhood perfection, I’m a living advertisement for birth control! Thanks for a really funny read. It if wasn’t for humour (and alcohol), I’d be in a padded cell (and sometimes I wish I was) 😉

  • Michelle

    Holy shit, I love you. Marry me, kay?

  • heather

    I used to read Soulemama – I was addicted to that ache. The slightly-envious longing that hurt so good. The beauty of her life just beckoned.
    She lives that waldorfy unschooling rural life of perfection.
    I’ve realized that the people I know in my own life who have had this life (my mother when I was a child! and some current acquaintances) are actually much more Type A than they let on. Some Type A folks are also deceptively laid back, so they trick you. Trick you, i say – you’re like “oh they’re just like me. so laid back”
    no, do not be fooled. Type A.
    I am type C. or D. maybe F. Most definitely probably maybe F.
    and I’m irritable and impatient and my god why do kids ramble on forever about things that lose me 2 minutes in. “did you hear me? did you hear me? what did i say?” (inner dialogue: oh crap. what did she say. shit. um…)
    and we are ok with TV (I wasn’t allowed it as a kid and i never learned how to have it on with moderation until I was 30)and minecraft (woops, there goes that waldorfy no-screens beauty)
    and I can’t organize my way out of a tupperware drawer. fuck that shit.

    so yea – this post nearly made me cry.
    Thank you.

    Also – any tips on how to be a more patient mama who knows how to listen?
    sigh.

  • Lauren Kindle

    This was hilarious! I can totally relate to your feelings. My husband and I have often joked about starting a tongue-in-cheek blog called “Fail-dorf” where we confess our hilarious attempts to do things the Waldorf way, and often fail. Like the little gnomes I made out of all the corks from all the wine bottles we drink, oh, and some wool felt. I also have a huge bin of wool I could felt, in my attic. Thanks for the funny article!

  • Jeannine

    From your own words…. “Oh fuck you lady. Fuck you and your decent life.”
    Still an issue? You shouldn’t write negatively or let other post negatively about Amanda Soule. I’m sure this hurt her. I feel sorry for you. Amanda has spent years working to build the home she and her husband have and has graciously shared it with the world. The people who chimed in here saying they peed themselves with laughter over your post, all while tossing out more bad language to put her down should go back to her wholesome post that supports children, animals, and hard work.

    • renegademama

      Did you miss this part?: “Now don’t misunderstand me. Not only do I have nothing against women like SouleMama, I’m so freaking JEALOUS I COULD CRY. I support the over-arching values being conveyed by bloggers like that. I admire their work, their devotion and the ethics they reinforce. I admire their LIVES. As she says, they’re only sharing a part of their lives – not the whole story.”

      This post is about MY insecure reaction to what APPEARS a “perfect” life. I’m pretty sure I have a right to share that. Amanda Soule is putting her work in the world. I’m sure she’s mature and confident enough to let other people respond to it. And I was neither mean nor hateful. I was responding to how the glossed-over depiction of life affects me.

  • Nobody special

    I know this was ages ago but I’ve come across this a few times now and its always left me irritated. I thought the original post was quite funny and not bashing…. The comments though? I agree with what someone said further up. You Americans are nasty. I’m a mama of 4 children who are 8yo down to 1yo, we grow all our own food including dairy goats, do ferments, crafts, are waldorf-unschoolers, I spin our own wool and knit and sew, we live a simple life and believe it or not my house is mostly tidy most of the time. We choose very carefully what comes into our daily rhythm and prioritise. My husband works full-time out of the home while I work from home as well as at home, and it isn’t always easy but its still being done. The Soule life is quite attainable. Yes, there are arguments, yes the garden often gets weedy, yes the shit hits the fan and we run out of money because we are NOT independently wealthy. Sometimes I lock myself in the bedroom and ring my husband and quit because I DON’T have any help or support. And nobody hears about that stuff except for maybe a couple of really close friends because we happen to be extremely private people. But most days are brilliant and absolutely worth it. And yes I have a son who would totally do all the things in a day. The next day he might boss his siblings til they threw something at his head or argue with me til *I* threw something at his head lol but hes an amazing, enthusiastic, helpful and creative child. Some of the commenters need to pull their nasty little heads in. If you adjusted your attitude and chose to approach your lives wth some gratitude and grace you would probably be alot happier. AND as an FYI – this was a birthday post. She always does lovely birthday posts for her children. It wasn’t about anyone else and I think, simply because of that, its a pity that was the post this blogpost linked to.

    **Radical unschooling is an extreme approach and not what the Soules do. Radical unschoolers don’t limit screen time for starters.
    ** The Soules have stated many times that the only reason they had the waldorf toys they do is because family members have gone in together to purchase them as gifts. They’ve cared for the same toys for many years as photos through the blog timeline show. And their finances are actually nobody elses business.

  • jennifer

    I just came across this post late last night. I don’t know how I came upon it- it just sort of appeared on my screen like a miracle. At a time when I was hanging on by a thread. Cause I did lose my shit that day. At home, at work, and in a phone call to both of my husband’s parents- the trifecta! You know, just a typical day! Anyway, I think it would really do my heart some good to see some photos of your life. Next time I get a free moment, I’ll check out your blog some more in hopes of finding them!

    Thanks!

  • Rachel

    I used to plan on making a T-shirt that said, “I am NOT SouleMama” but I couldn’t get organized enough to get the organic cotton and natural dyes and such. 😉

  • Laurie

    I.love.you. You are real. Your insights are refreshing. And your humor and WiT are over-the-top-AWEsome!
    I imagine it’s moms with young(ish) kids that typically read your blog. I am 57-a wife, Mom, MomMom, AnD long-time preschool teacher who linked to you through one of my awesome preschool-mamas. I LoVE having the privilege to daily interact with ‘you’ , the age 20’s to 40’s moms of ‘right now’, and to hear stories of Pinterest-fails (and successes too….in the form of class birthday treats and teacher gifts-YaY!)
    Keep being YoU , and just ‘living in the often crappy moments’. I am sure that you are a gem and encouragement to many.

  • Ramona

    This is incredibly sad… You should read some Wayne Dyer and get ahold of some time management books. I started out as a sad jealous (and extremely hateful) mom when my first was born and worked into what I wanted. You create your life! Best of luck XOXO

    Seriously time management is crucial and pays off if you are CONSISTENT.
    Consistency is literally key.

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