Dear Fellow Over Burdened Modern Women of the World:
Why do we make life so many times harder for ourselves than it needs to be?
Ok, back up. Let me share a mini-breakdown I had a couple weeks ago.
I am practically incapable, as I imagine many of you are, at saying no. I want to do everything, and because I am a modern American woman, I CAN do everything and I MUST do everything. Have you ever paused to imagine the perfect modern woman, as she is subtly implied by the sum total of all the different conceptions of ideal modern femininity? Here, I’ll describe her:
She must be lovely, but effortless. She must look good without trying, she must be stylish yet frugal, she must be poised, but not stiff.
She must excel in all domains. She must be accomplished in the workplace, taking on top jobs and doing them as good as – nay, better – than any man. She must rise to the top of her career, so as not to be limited by her gender.
Yet she must also have time to go to the gym, maintain a perfect house, one that is “simple” and “elegant” which translates frequently into “expensive” and “carefully curated.” She must have time to maintain multiple friendships, volunteer at charities, and entertain.
Oh, and she must also be a supermom, in the midst of all the rest. She must cloth-diaper (hey mom friends – is that a verb?), teach her baby sign language, make all her homemade baby food, breastfeed without problem, spend hours playing outside so her children never know what a TV is and prefer composing sonatas in their spare time (did I mention that this women is obviously musical?). She must sleep train, attachment parent, co-sleep, and schedule her children all at the same time. And she must still have time to love her husband and go on lots of cute dates.
She must be a virtuoso in the kitchen. Her dinners must be nutritional, delicious, and aesthetic. They must also be vegan, gluten free, free range, grass fed, and organic – all at the same time.
And she must always, always, ALWAYS, bring homemade treats to parties. Because if she brings slice and bake cookies, she will be single handedly responsible for the destruction of the American family.
Obviously, I am exaggerating a tiny bit. But if you look at all the articles, images, blogs, etc. that are out there competing to tell us how to live, the aggragate is a little overwhelming. Which brings me to my breakdown of a couple weeks ago.
I was helping throw a baby shower for a dear friend and I was in charge of the snacks and games. (The décor and invitations were done by my friend’s other friends who did an unbelievable job and at some point I will steal some of their awesome photos to share because it was perfect.) Now obviously, there is a right and easy way of doing this: go to Trader Joe’s and load your cart with all those delicious premade yummies. There is no one of woman born who can’t find treats they love in the frozen food section of Trader Joe’s.
But obviously, I couldn’t do this. If I brought non-homemade food to this shower, I would be admitting my failure as a woman, and her baby would surely come out with four feet or something. I should add that this friend would have been more than happy for me to show up with some salsa, chips, and Totino’s pizza rolls – the burden I felt was totally of my own imagining.
And so, at midnight, I was slaving in my kitchen over gourmet mini-quiches.
Let me tell you why so many places sell premade mini-quiches: they are an absolute beast to make. One tray was such a disaster that I pulled it out of the oven and turned and dumped it directly in the trash. James walked in at one point and might have asked if we should just go buy some, and I barked his head off that NO I HAD TO MAKE THEM BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN WHO COOKS.
And Fellow Modern Women, that’s absolutely ridiculous. What matters is that you are sharing your heart and your time, not mastering culinary greatness.
And so, my sage advice to you this morning is this. Next time you throw a party:
Go to Trader Joe’s.
Buy the darn mini-quiches.
Buy the pre-made flatbreads.
Load up on cheese and crackers.
Don’t let ridiculous images tell you that you can do it all.
You don’t need to.
Spend less time chasing the ideal and more time loving the people who matter in it.
Hannah Who Will Never Again Make Homemade Mini-Quiches
PS: Despite my late night breakdown, the party was a success, and the food was great, even if I was only successful in my mini-quiches for half of the guests to eat them. The success wasn’t the issue… I just could have gotten there so much easier, with fewer dishes, and less snapping at the hubs.
Oh, mannn. I have been there, even with the tossing things out as soon as they come out of the oven. The truth is that storebought mini quiche is great! I love it. I will happily shove it down my face while chatting at a shower. No judgment here.
And you know, Ina Garten (who is my entertaining model more than Martha Stewart) says to buy as much as you can. She’ll make the main course and sides (like a braised meat and roasted veg), but for starters, she’ll like, get cheese, crackers, and olives from the store. BAM. Done. And if Ina does it, so must we all, am I right?
God bless that Ina… she is just so practical and DELICIOUS. I will remember that!
So much goodness. I am constantly struggling with managing all of the things I think I should be succeeding at! Seeing them all listed out there makes it more than obvious that it’s literally impossible to be all those things. There isn’t enough time in our lives let alone our days and weeks. Yet we all still struggle! It’s insanity I tell you! Thanks for the reminder. I should have myself read this post daily just so I don’t get frustrated and upset with life and all that I think I have to complete. Whew.
It’s tots impossible and super not fun. You should just cuddle with that cutie of yours instead. : )
Pizza rolls are really good.
I once interviewed a successful lawyer/mother who said the only way she could be a successful lawyer/mother was not to care about other little things… so she has chipped china and scuffed-up walls. I think you just have to pick which things matter to you, and be content doing those.
I know — I love them so much. Like maybe more than any other junk food.
I have been experimenting with past-midnight bedtimes for the past week for this very reason. It would all be possible IF one did not require sleep. Something for scientists to consider.
That sleep thing… it is just such a kill joy. (BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH.)
So true! I love throwing parties where everything is home made by myself, but in the end it’s not really worth it. My friends have taught me over these last years that the most important thing at a dinner party (or any party) is to have fun, and apparently I’m no fun when all I think of is how long this cake has been in the oven and perhaps I should have taken the other china. Also, people tend to appreciate store-bought goods as much as I underestimate them…
I just try to remember to appreciate it when someone took all that time and made all that effort to make me home made mini quiches.
Having fun is really the key — mini-quiches or no!
You gotta figure out what’s really important and do THAT… and never mind what the Other Women have Other Priorities. As Jared says, they’re them and you’re you, so why are you expecting to be like them instead of yourself? (Easily said, husband. Easily said.)
For me, having a beautiful flower garden, a spotless house, and homemade pastries for dessert are not very important. So I don’t have them and I don’t worry. Usually.
On the other hand, using cloth diapers IS important to me, so I do not mind the extra load of laundry every day or so. And yes, it is a verb 🙂
I think it’s crucial to remember that nobody has or does it all. It just looks like it sometimes.
For some inexplicable reason — because we are NOT pregnant, and won’t be any time soon — I am weirdly fascinated by cloth diapering. Why? No clue, and I am not even necessarily planning on doing it when I have kids. But I read every post that all my mom friends write about it with odd interest.
Watch out… that’s how I started too (hm, this is interesting, but I will never do it!) and look at me now. 😉
My attempts to keep it together haven’t been too successful. At some point, something must go, and I chose cleaning my room. 🙂
I’m with you — a clean space is totally worth it… especially if you can eat pizza rolls in it.
1. Yes, “cloth diapering” is a verb.
2. The paragraph with all the expectations sounds like Mr. Darcy. Jane Austen is prophetic (or, there’s nothing new under the sun).
I am surprised at anyone knowing any accomplished women… ; )
Well said! Thank you for saying it when so many of us want to, but are afraid!
Be brave! Buy the frozen food!!!
Said friend would have been totally happy with Totinos pizza rolls and chips and salsa. HOWEVER…your spread was beyond amazing and that fig bakewell tart will live on in my memories forever.
and yes. just say yes to the Trader Joe’s frozen section. always and forever.
Oh totally — I know you! Some beer cheese and you would have been totally content. ; )
And that tart sure was good…
I got quite a few needed giggles out of this post. I am glad I am not the only one who feels like I will single handedly be responsible for the destruction of the American family if I don’t make homemade things. On several occasions, I have found myself in the same late night frustrated battle where the more tired you become the more awful your food gets.
I did, however, marry a man who one time when approached with slice and bake cookies ask me, “Are they going to be square when they are done?” which made me realize the large gap in womanhood between his stay at home makes homemade cookies mother and my up bringing with a working mother who only had time for break and bake. This vision was shattered of course the first time he requested Hamburger Helper for dinner after the first week of my slaving to make every nights meal homemade.
I LOVE this. Bless him. Of course, mine never turn out because I just end up eating all the dough. Oops.
I love your blog. Your writing style, your wit, your truth. I try not to play the “game” of being the modern super-woman and MY BIGGEST WIN in this area is not having a Pinterest account. I highly recommend it. Well written, once again.
Thanks! Yeah.. I don’t want to play the blame game, but Pinterest is definitely a factor. I still have mine (mostly for old recipe reference) but as I’ve blogged about a couple times, I don’t really pin much anymore.
Amen lady! P.s. that cake was a sacrifice of love because baking is a sort of twin mom therapy for me BUT it did take up time and my mom had to babysit the kids so I could finish! There. secrets revealed.
Umm…. I WOULD TOTALLY BABYSIT EVERYDAY IF YOU WOULD BAKE THAT CAKE FOR ME ON A REGULAR BASIS. Just sayin.’
I totally hear where you’re coming from. It’s exhausting! Sadly, I would also be of the mind that I *had* to make the mini quiches from scratch, and that nothing else would be acceptable. Ugh. TJs for the win!
Why do we get like that??? I don’t know — but we do!
My friend just sent me your post and I can’t say how happy I am that she did.
I struggle with this on a constant basis. I can not get it out of my head that every party I throw, attend or participate in needs to have all homemade things. In my head, I don’t do store bought, I don’t do premade, but as you said and as I should know, it’s fine and it’s not the end of the world (and TJ’s does make some really delicious stuff). I constantly have a to do list of about 46 things on it at all moments and I really need to do a better job of letting some of those things go. Thanks for this post and opening my eyes.
I’m so glad she did too!
I know — we have to break the “premade is evil” thing because sometimes it allows us so more freedom (and is cheaper!).
Hannah, I am the woman who only, and I mean only, ever brings giant brand jalepeno bites and beer to gatherings. One day I might diversify to cheese.
You are basically my inspiration. Please don’t ever bring anything other than those poppers because they are THE BEST EVER.
So true girl! Being a modern woman is exhausting!
Reblogged this on Kairos in Chaos.
There’s so much pressure to do absolutely everything right and it is incredibly exhausting! I’m starting to find that there are some things I am good at and other things that I am not so good at, and that is MORE than okay. You are a lovely lady with many talents!
Oh goodness… I don’t know about that… But I can plunge any stopped toilet. (Why is that my default talent?)
Unrelated sidenote: A former Bachelorette contestant just opened a restaurant in DC. Felt the need to share that with someone who could care.
Thank you. This is my favorite post of yours… ever.
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Love this post
Currently having a mini quiche breakdown for my best friend’s bridal shower…… all I can say is THANK YOU & I’m going to Trader Joe’s first thing in the morning!