Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Behind the Scenes Look at Our Hobo Camp

When I started this blog a few years ago I chose the name True Skinny. The name came after I had been looking through Facebook and really started thinking about the image of my life I had created online through carefully chosen pictures of my perfect family, slim body, and organized home. When I compared that life to reality I realized that only part of it was true. By posting pictures of the kids when they weren't fighting, crying or threatening to run away, photos of my skinny side, and interior shots of the one clean room in the house, my Facebook image was a pretty good-looking reality.

In contrast, I wanted my blog to be the real True Skinny, a true-to-life account of the workings of life as a mother of 7, military wife, antiques dealer, freelance writer and home renovator. But this morning I realized that some of the things that I continue to keep "hidden" are the things that make me and my family real. My philosophy has always been that actions and the way you treat people are far more important than the way you look. That being the case, why did I let our hobo camp driveway tick me off the way it did this morning?

So, this morning when I left to drive the middle schoolers to school at a little after 7:00 am I was tired. I was cranky because I stayed up too late painting furniture. I hit the snooze about 4 times and had just enough time to throw on one of Dave's huge sweatshirts before I had to run out the door. There is so much crap piled up in our bedroom that I nearly killed myself trying to find my slippers. Neither of the middle schoolers-Evi or Landon-had set alarms, so I ran franticly to their rooms banging on doors yelling, " Wake up, you're late!". We haven't grocery shopped because payday is tomorrow, so a packaged pop-tart was the best I could do for breakfast.

Evi commented, "I'd rather starve."

I decided to sit in the car and wait for them to come out. What happened next is my inspiration for this entire blog post. This is the scene that I saw out the windshield.

I sat staring at my driveway and yard in disgust. I thought "What would I do if people actually saw the way we live?" Then I realized that people do see this. My neighbors drive by my house every day. When new friends' parents' drop their kids off at my house they see it; although I always offer the disclaimer, "Please excuse the mess, we are under renovation." Then I thought about my blog and wondered what you would think, because until now, I would never publish a picture showing this kind of chaos. Would you be surprised by the mess? Would you be reliveved knowing that my life with 7 kids isn't always perfectly clean, well organized and painted a pretty shade of distressed pink paint?

When Landon got in the car I asked him, "Do you realize that it looks like we live in a hobo camp?"

His response was, "No, what it looks like is that we have a son who has a hobby of fixing up go-carts and dirt bikes. There is nothing unsafe there and it isn't going to rain."

After what I will admit was kind of a long lecture on the way to school about picking up after yourself, I really thought about what Landon said. What I saw as a mess-something to be ashamed of, he saw as a playground-surrounded by classic cars and guy toys. What I wanted to hide, because it looked messy and unorganized, he wanted to promote.

Then I thought about my blog. I realized that the true skinny is that I am the mother of 7 busy kids and a military officer's wife-that alone is enough to fill anyone's plate. If that is all I did I might be able to keep things organized and clean, be on time for practices and dentist appointments and do baths and bedtime a night with without raising my voice, but then throw in antiques dealer, freelance writer and home renovator. How do I do it all you often ask, and make things look so good, and raise great athletes and be so creative? The fact is-the true skinny is-that when one thing looks great, there are often many other things that are compromised, and doing it all flawlessly is impossible. When I post pictures of a beautiful dresser that I refinished in a day, what I am not telling you is that the kids had to hunt for clean socks out of a pile a mile high because I didn't fold any laundry. Just because I don't post pictures of my dirty dishes, publish threats from my kids that they are going to live with Grandma and Grandpa, or detail the accounts of someone sneaking beers at a family party, doesn't mean they don't happen.

Now, I am not quite ready to post a picture of my bikini clad body before the big spring diet or the condition of my master bedroom (you know, the one that I almost killed myself in this morning trying to find my slippers), but I will try to dispel the belief that I am superwoman by posting some of the pictures and stories that I would have otherwise censored before this morning's revelation while sitting in my driveway. I just hope that all of my friends out there, whether physical or cyber, will have the same respect for me knowing I live in a hobo camp. At least it's a happy hobo camp.