I don't read other people's blogs. Well, ok, there are a select few belonging to friends that I keep up with. But, for the most part, I steer clear of the blog world.
Other people's blogs make me feel inadequate. It's like subjecting myself to a daily "Christmas Letter" filled perfectly behaved children, sunny afternoons brimming with fun educational activities, nutritious and beautiful homemade dinners, and photos of angelic offspring with winsome smiles dancing across squeaky clean faces.
The truth is, I just can't compete with that.
I read someone else's blog amid the familiar sounds of banshee screaming and tap shoes tapping on the kitchen counter. I glance up from a screen full of pictures of polished kids to see the face of a three year old caked with snot and mud, and a one year old whose siblings obviously left a plate of fudge low enough for her to find it and bathe in it. I stop halfway through a recipe that a fellow mother and blogger lovingly prepared for her grateful brood to toss a frozen pizza into the oven and tell my kids to just eat around the bruises in the apples and that I don't care if the chips fell on the bathroom floor because even still we ARE NOT wasting them.
So, I quit. I just don't read them.
But yesterday, as I was vacuuming the floor for the third time in two hours (because, somehow, "keep the food in the kitchen" and "keep the play doh in the schoolroom" seem to be two very difficult concepts to grasp), I started thinking. This is actually one of the best times to think. Because no one really wants to yell over the vacuum to talk to me, and I can hardly hear them yelling at each other with that delicious and soothing vacuum hum in my ears. And this is what I thought.
You fellow photo moms will totally get this. Remember when you first realized that you loved this photography thing? And remember trying to get the color, clarity, and vibrance you saw in other people's photos? Remember getting so frustrated because you just couldn't quite get there? Your pictures always came out dull. Flat. Soft. Just somehow missing the electric quality you saw and loved in the pictures you tried to copy?
And do you remember the moment when someone was finally kind enough to put you out of your misery and reveal the secret that changed your life and your perspective?
You know what it is.....
WHAT?!? Those pictures didn't come out of the camera like that? Hallelujah! I may not be hopeless after all!
In some way it was comforting to know that there was more to creating that amazing image than just snapping the picture.
Maybe it's the same with blogs.
Maybe it's the same with LIFE.
Maybe that blogger mom's children aren't always clean and smiling and quoting Shakespeare. Maybe she only made dinner once this week but just made darn sure to post about that gorgeous spread and take pictures to prove it. Maybe, just maybe, she too is typing her post sitting in an unmade bed with baby boogers on her shirt, kids fighting next to her, boxed macaroni and cheese overcooking on the stove, and a toddler stuck to the kitchen floor in a pool of kool aid (with artificial colors and preservatives) that got spilled as soon as she sat down to type.
Maybe, like me, all of that is pretty much typical of about 99% of her life. But when she writes she is able to see things differently. When she really takes the time to consider her life and her family and her blessings, the way things look....changes.
Those pictures you see....the ones that take your breath away....are rarely straight out of the camera. Sure, the beauty is there in the original version. But it may be harder to find.
It's almost always post processing that brings out the gorgeous tones, sharpens the image, and makes that subtle beauty clear to the beholder.
So maybe all those superwoman blogger moms aren't out there trying to make the rest of us feel like throwing in the towel. Maybe they have just learned the value of looking back on difficult days and exhausting nights and turning them into art. Of peering through the lens of life and capturing everything, but choosing to interpret it all as beauty through a secret magic we would all do well to learn.