When I'm not blogging (or you know, wasting time on those annoyingly necessary tasks, like sleeping) I'm adding to my collection of vintage magazines. They are full of great advice for the aspiring Super Woman. They’ve taught me that it’s not enough to have good taste in fashion, you ought to be able to run up your outfits yourself from a set of old bed sheets. And it’s not enough just to get your husband's tea on the table - you should fix your face and make sure the kids are being neither seen nor heard before you serve it to him.
Just check out this piece of advice given to Woman's Own readers by 'beauty specialist' Mary Carlyle, back in October 1932:
"I will not listen to the little housewife who tells me she is so busy looking after the house that she has no time to 'bother about herself'. That is sheer bunkum and a woman with that point of view deserves all the heartbreak that is coming to her."
It’s not enough these days to have the figure - you’ve got to get it via healthy living, and without the aid of a girdle. And it's not enough just to keep the kids clothed and fed either. You need to ensure their outfit is both ethically sourced and Instagram approved, and that their lunchbox is host to an organic, free range, free trade, additive free, Pinterest worthy masterpiece.
In fact, we all want our lives to be ‘Pinterest Perfect’ or, at the very least, look it to the outside world. As bloggers, we are more guilty of this than most. Because while you might be sat on the sofa in your onesie, struggling to keep your eyes open after a long day of work, housekeeping and cat herding / child rearing, the picture you’re uploading for your blog post is a cropped and edited image of the charmed life. The kids are smiling, the house is spotless, and even the dog is looking cheerful and well groomed for once.
I’m the worst for it. As I write this, the sink is full of dirty dishes, the baby is attempting to eat what looks like yesterday’s regurgitated biscuit, and, although it’s not quite a onesie, my unironed t-shirt and leggings combo isn’t a vast improvement. Not that I’d normally be admitting to it. I want my readers to think I’m sat at a beautifully arranged desk, you know the kind of thing, the sort of workspace which wouldn’t look out of place in a glossy interior mag. I want them to assume I’m wearing a face full of skilfully applied make up and a pair of killer heels, not a mismatched pair of my other half’s socks.
I want to be Pinterest Perfect, I really do. That’s what I tell myself, at any rate. I’m going to get up early to exercise and shower before work and, in the evening, we’re all going to do fun family activities instead of collapsing exhausted in front of the television. I’m going to prepare fresh, wholesome meals that always look inviting, and I’m never going to leave the house without looking like I’ve made at least some effort.
Except that’s a lie. I might for a bit, perhaps I’ll have even stick to one of these pledges long term but, in the end, there were still be days when I’m in my pyjamas at 2pm serving up baked beans on white bread. The truth it that there a finite number of hours in my day, and a million and one things which need to be done in it. I’m not going to choose bleaching (or baking soda-ing) the bathroom grout over cuddles on the sofa, and I won’t be prioritising my hair over an extra 15 minutes in bed in the morning.
I’ll strive for perfection, sure, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t achieve it. Life is too short and I have too many other things to worry about. Mary Carlyle wouldn't be impressed with that excuse, I know. But Mary Carlyle isn’t living my life - I am!