1. Here’s what my living room looks like, right now:
2. Every once in a while, I post a picture like this on facebook, and ask my friends to post pictures of their living rooms–not after they’ve been cleaned, or after the kids trashed it, but just as it looks right now.
3. The idea is to remind yourself that other people’s houses look a lot like yours. Normally we only see people’s houses when they’ve cleaned up to take a picture, cleaned up for visitors, or cleaned and organized and decorated to display on Pinterest. Some people find pictures of lovely houses inspiring–nothing wrong with that. But it’s easy to forget that even those perfect houses look different when they’ve been lived in, and to think you’re the only one whose house looks like this.
4. A few years ago, I showed my husband an article from the Onion called “Female Friends Spend Raucous Night Validating the Living Sh** Out of Each Other.” He half-jokingly asked me if that was what went on at my weekly Moms’ Group. I realized that actually it was kind of the opposite: one of us will confess something we’re struggling with, and the others will empathize and assure her that they are much worse. “So…” said my husband, “it’s more like ‘You’re OK, I’m not OK?” Hmm. He’s on to something there.
5. When I originally started posting the pictures of my living room, I saw another example of how easy it is to get into this kind of self-deprecating contest, at least for me. If someone confesses to me that they cheated and had extra dessert the other night, I’m likely to respond, “oh, that’s not so bad! I had cake for breakfast today!” And if someone posts a picture of a messy living room, I’m likely to jump right in and comment “hey, at least your chairs all have cushions on them and there’s not food all over your floor! Look at MY house!” I’m not sure how it happens, but somehow it turns into something you’re almost proud of: look at me, I’m the one who really deserves pity. I’m the biggest slob!
6. So go ahead and leave your pictures in the comments! Just remember that it’s not about whose is worse, or who’s detached from worldly things enough to have a messy living room, or who spends enough time playing with her kids that she doesn’t have time left for cleaning. You can even take a picture if you happen to have just cleaned! It’s all about what a real, lived-in living room looks like–not an artificial Pinterest one.
7. Head over to Kelly’s at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Seven Quick Takes!