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How I fail every day

by Karen on March 12, 2012

In the past few weeks, I’ve made a few new wonderful friends in my community. We met through a playgroup at the public library, and they’ve become a wonderful support network not to mention a fun social outlet for me. I’ve shared this blog with them, and last week a conversation with one of my new friends made me realize that I may be failing my readers. Big time.

“You can never see my house! I read your blog,” she told me. Her point was that she feels disorganized and messy compared to the posts I write about organization and simple living.

I should say here that I have seen her house since that conversation (she welcomed my family into her home to hide in her basement during last week’s storms), and it was nowhere near as bad as she made it seem. She’s become a dear friend to me, and I’m not writing this post to make her feel bad (if you’re reading this, do NOT feel bad). But she made me realize something: my readers only see part of the story. I’m not purposely deceiving you guys, but I think of you as guests in my life. Of course I shine everything up and make it look pretty before you come over.

When I write about organization, simplicity, parenting, and even money, I write about what I strive to be. I don’t think I make myself look perfect, but I definitely do make myself look better than I am. Don’t we all put our best feet forward in public? I’m nowhere near where I want to be, though. Not by a long shot.

Over the past four years, the readers of this blog have built me up, supported me, and helped me to become a better wife, a better mother, and a better person. The very last thing in the world that I want is to make any of you feel inadequate.

So I want to share with you some of the ways that I fail, and how I want to become better.

I’m not as organized as I seem.

Like I said, what I write here is what I strive to be. It’s true that I’m pretty tidy in general when it comes to our living space, but when I write about organization tips, I’m sharing the ideas I’ve had for how I can get better. In a perfect world, I would follow these tips to the tee. I don’t, though. My drawers are overstuffed with clothing. My closets are packed to the brim (and sometimes so stuffed that they’re hazardous to open). I’m trying to get better, and when I write here about organization, it motivates me to get it together.

I’m thankful that children are so forgiving of their mothers.

I love my son and I’m so thankful to have him in my life — that much is absolutely true. But when I write glowing posts about the joys of motherhood, I leave out a lot of the normal challenges. He is a toddler now, and he can be frustrating. Sometimes, he drives me absolutely bonkers. I feel terrible admitting it, but I have raised my voice at times when he’s repeatedly getting into things, even though I know he’s not able to understand why I’m angry and I know that kind of discipline doesn’t work. I try to interact with him and play with him as much as I can, but there are days when I’m exhausted, sick, or busy and he watches one too many episodes of Sesame Street. I learn from my mistakes, and I like to think I’m becoming a better mother every day. I certainly don’t think my failures are doing any permanent damage, but I do fail him daily. I wish I didn’t, but I do.

My financial choices aren’t always the “right” ones.

This is admittedly a particularly sensitive subject for me, because I have gotten comments from trolls in the past, and the last thing I want is to get so sensitive about it that I don’t want to write about my personal finances at all (on what is supposed to be a money blog). But here are a few choices I’ve made that I know aren’t considered “right” by most finance experts:

  • We’re not in a huge hurry to pay off our remaining student loan debt. In fact, we took a big vacation to Europe, had a baby, and bought a house while making minimum payments on that debt. I have no regrets, but I know I have readers who feel this choice is irresponsible.
  • We financed a used car last year instead of saving to pay with cash.
  • We bought a house before we had a full 20% down payment.
  • We purposely set our tax withholding too high, because we’d rather receive a refund than a tax bill every year.

I’m sure there are other choices I’ve made that personal finance experts don’t agree with me on, but I’ve always stressed on this blog — my financial choices are my own. They have worked for my family, and even if we’re not perfect, our goal is to strike a balance between smart financial choices and quality of life. Could we build wealth faster if we squirreled away every last penny into savings? Sure, but it’s not for us, not at this point in our lives. So we save some, spend some, and try to balance future security with present happiness.

I don’t always make healthy choices.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you now: I don’t know exactly how much weight I gained during my pregnancy with Judah, but I stopped looking at the scale after I’d gained 60 pounds, and that was only 2/3rd of the way through my pregnancy. I’m still struggling to lose quite a bit of that weight. It’s true that I try to eat healthy and exercise, but there are days when I hit the snooze button instead of rolling out of bed at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. There are days when I eat one (or four) too many cookies. And yes, sometimes all I want in the world is a cheeseburger and french fries. If I didn’t make the wrong choices a lot of the time, I would have been back at my ideal weight months ago. But I really do just love a good cheeseburger.

As for Judah, I had all kinds of plans for his diet when I was pregnant. He was going to eat organic fruits and vegetables, no processed food, organic milk, yada yada yada. Then he started having weight gain issues. We offer him fruits and vegetables at every meal, but the truth is, he doesn’t eat them as well as I’d like. When he fell of the charts for weight, I was so desperate for him to eat anything that I became much more lax with his diet than I’d like. I let him eat chicken nuggets and other processed foods, because he would eat them, and all I wanted was for him to gain weight.

He’s been doing a lot better with his weight recently, so I’ve been encouraging him to eat more vegetables, but his diet isn’t perfect. I let him eat Teddy Grahams and Goldfish crackers and, yes, chicken nuggets (they’re not even homemade or organic!). It’s another area where we strive for balance. I don’t think any picky 15-month-old eats a perfectly balanced diet, but we’re trying. We do our best to set a good example, and that’s the most important thing, I think.

I struggle with chronic anxiety and depression.

I try to keep things positive around here. The last thing I want to do is complain because I know just how blessed I am. But the truth is, I do struggle with an anxiety disorder and at times in my life I’ve been clinically depressed. I don’t tell you this for sympathy, but I hope those of you who struggle with these disorders (they’re common, to be sure) can relate to me a little better. I am happy overall (at least I have no reason to be unhappy), healthy, and blessed, but there are days when I feel sorry for myself for no reason at all. Even if you don’t struggle with anxiety or depression, we all have bad days. I am no exception.

The point of this post isn’t to beat myself up by any means. I’m proud of a lot of things about my life, and I like to write about what makes me proud. I don’t focus on my failures on this blog, because I think we should all focus on what’s positive about ourselves and our lives even as we strive to be better. But I wanted to be honest and clear with you guys that even though I don’t write about it all the time, I fail daily. No one is perfect all the time, and my life isn’t always sunshine and daffodils.

We all have weaknesses, but we also have strengths. I choose to focus on my strengths on this blog, and I strive to focus on my strengths in life. I think if we can all succeed at that, we’ll be much happier and healthier.

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{ 9 comments }

1 Jennifer March 12, 2012 at 8:14 am

We all make mistakes and fail at something every single day. Every day as I am trying to get 4 kids out the door and on the bus I seem to lose my temper. Every day I regret it. When I stop at Bruegger’s and grab lunch instead of coming home I regret it. No one is perfect. I know when things are going badly for me the last thing I want to do is blog because I know that my readers don’t want to hear nothing but complaints. Eventually I plaster on a fake grin and write something anyway but it isn’t always easy. We all have our struggles that no one sees. I am sure that you – like most people – are doing the best you can.
Jennifer´s last blog post ..Money Monday – Make a Plan for Your Tax Refund

2 Jen March 12, 2012 at 9:54 am

I think you are an inspiration to a lot of people for just who you are. You are a wonderful person, and I’m so glad to call you a friend. You’ve helped me out tremendously by just being you. I know there are many times I’ve told you crazy, crazy things and not been afraid that you would judge me or make me feel stupid. You are a great friend, and never forget that!

3 cheryl March 12, 2012 at 10:00 am

I enjoy reading your blog, and have never felt that you made your life sound perfect. Even though I am at a totally different life stage (older, older kids, etc.) I enjoy learning new things from you. I feel you have started a little community where people encourage each other through the rough spots. We are all works in progress, and can all lift each other up during the tough times. Keep up the good work!!

4 Kacie March 12, 2012 at 10:03 am

Karen! You’re my fave.

I now do know that bloggers blog about what they wanna and we don’t always get a total picture. I think that’s totally fine, because when you came to my house for a playdate, you betcha I cleaned up in advance! If you popped in the day before unexpectedly, you would have found a big ol mess.

Same with bloggging. Sometimes I share my struggles and failures, but mostly I try to keep things encouraging. It’s not like you’re trying to paint yourself as someone who is always on it, all the time.

So I think you are awesome and real and I like you and your blog. A lot!

Oh and if the trolls come out of the woodwork ever, lemme at ’em!
Kacie´s last blog post ..Carnival of Personal Finance #352: Cocktail party edition

5 sanjit agnihotri March 13, 2012 at 6:15 am

It was superb listening to you adnit your weaknesses.Very often,we form stereotyped impressions and start feeling low on reading apparently glowing accounts.

6 Karen March 16, 2012 at 12:11 am

Thank you all so much for your support. You’re some of my most positive commenters, and I appreciate your contributions so much. Thanks again for reading along with me and lending an ear! :)

7 Kacie March 17, 2012 at 10:23 pm
8 Ericka March 27, 2012 at 8:00 am

Oh Kacie you are so normal!!! Don’t worry too much about your son’s diet. I remember when my twin girls were his age and I was frantic about their food intake. My dr told me because their tummies are so small, you aim for a healthy diet over a week. Some days they won’t eat well, then they eat everything on their plate. Plus they don’t need the big portions that we do to make our daily allowances.

I too suffer from chronic depression and anxiety and it can be rough. We moved to NJ 12 years ago and I had no friends. It was a great time for us but I was really lonely at home with the girls, then my infant son. A year later a Moms Club started in my neighborhood and my girls started school and I found some great friends. Some of them I consider my best friends in the world.

No one’s perfect although I can see why your new friend might have thought that. She will come to see you as a normal person with a gift for words.

Have a great semester teaching!

9 porter carey April 11, 2012 at 10:28 am

I think you’ve made some truly interesting points. Not too many people would actually think about this the way you just did. I am really impressed that there is so much information about this subject that have been uncovered and you did it so well, with so much class. Thanks.

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