Whole Parenting Family

Life in Theory versus Practice: an examination


The other night, we’re doing dishes and watching the baby on the monitor, listening to our favorite band’s new album, and I turn to AA:

Is this how you thought you’d live your life?

He snorted and kept scrubbing the few plastic dishes we use that I refuse to put in the high heat of the dishwasher for fear it will ignite their secret BPA ingredients and kill my kids. Then he asked me what I thought my life looked like in theory versus practice, which is a way better way of stating my same question. No surprise. He’s definitely the brainier of us. And I’m more rigid.

I explained my present life in my mind looks like this:

Homemade food eaten by children wearing all clothing that I’ve made or sourced organically, while they gently play with their wooden toys and share kindly as I look on, showered, clothed, and knitting from a very comfortable yoga position I’ve mastered. Maybe I’m reading aloud from A Child’s Garden of Verse and maybe we’re all doing crafts.

He laughed so hard starting with the part where the kids are only wearing clothing I’ve made and going all the way through. I joined in and we moved on to the greener pastures of intellectual discussion like how many shirts I needed to iron for his week at work.

This got me to thinking, how closely am I living to how I’d like to live? How far off am I and what’s holding me back from actually living whatever this life is?

Convoluted question? Probably. I’m teetering on the edge of the flu myself and have watched most of the rest of the household fall to it so I’m a little wonky as I write.

We do eat homemade food often, and I do make a lot of the kids’ clothing or it’s hand-me-down from relatives so I feel less wasteful, and they do have a lot of wooden toys they love to play with, though they squabble as all small kids do, yet I am more often than not looking like a functioning adult and certainly haven’t mastered any yoga despite doing a little knitting everyday. I do read aloud daily, but not as often as I’d like. And I hate crafts.

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What’s hindering this somewhat funny ideal?

Maybe our daily homeschool preschool consisting of a quick morning lesson comprised of How to Read in 100 Lessons for SuperBoy, a little handwriting practice, a little reading aloud, and then fun games like Math Animals and tick-tack-toe throughout the day. And the almost three year old  peels all the crayon paper off. Because she likes to. She does throw away the trash, and it’s good for manual dexterity, right?

Maybe scheduling playdates in the morning during BabyLoves’ nap and so just nursing him down in the sling at whomever’s house.

Maybe spending spare moments working on new leggings for my etsy shoppe rather than plucking my eyebrows and brushing out my very very long hair, ergo: dreads.

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I’m being more conscious about leveling expectations for the day combined with what’s both practical and feasible. I can’t both nurse the baby down for his nap and stop the big kids from squabbling. So they learn how to share on their own for a little while {constantly interrupting me!!!}. I can’t both play in her room with her and watch the baby try to scale her bed and start dinner so some days, it’s dinner from the freezer or takeout. I can’t work on handwriting with him while nursing the squirmy babe. I can’t clean up before dinner and make dinner. So either we all clean up or dinner is late or both. Or neither.

In my mind’s eye, I’m more organized and personally cared for, and more kids get more one-on-one time. In reality, no one cares that I’m not magazine ready and they play all day long and love almost all of it with their siblings.

This little exercise in fantasy & reality made me come to tenacious terms with what my days are going to look like for the foreseeable future. And maybe a little more hair-brushing needs to happen, but otherwise, I’m okay with the reality of my life.



  1. Ashley on January 19, 2015 at 7:29 am

    I totally get you. I am a recovering perfectionist myself. I have a lot of balls in the air right now and tend to be pretty hard on myself. I want to have it all just how I imagine it: clutter free house, thriving business, a homeschool full of read alouds and crafts, thorough workouts that transform this tired postpartum body, etc etc. SO unrealistic! I mean, they all can be accomplished, but maybe not at the same time and definitely not in the crazy time frame I want, hah! Trying to give myself more grace and enjoy all the messy (but good!!) parts of life.

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 19, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      Yes! What a great way to put it. It is a messy time and that is okay!

  2. Erin on January 19, 2015 at 9:45 am

    YES so very true. According to my plans and my planner, every day I have an ideal of how the day is going to go: a nice calm breakfast, cleaned kitchen, a nice playtime, lunch, naptime… etc etc etc… It usually unravels by 8:00am and never looks like I expect. I’m realizing the more I just accept this as normal they less stressed I am, but part of me doesn’t want to let go of the ideals either because they help maintain a semblance of an ordered life. finding that balance is so hard! and voted- check! good luck!

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 19, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      It has to be a balance, right? Otherwise i vascillate between anger and self-pity!!

  3. Molly on January 19, 2015 at 10:12 am

    I work through these thoughts a lot…. what our home would ideally look like, what our job situation ideally would be, how many kids we’d ideally have, ideals, ideals, ideals. I think it’s important to step back and make sure those ideals don’t become idols and live your live as it comes to you. =)

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 19, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Beautifully stated. Beautifully thought out!!

  4. Theresa on January 19, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Love this, Nell! Life with kids is so crazy and so far from the picture perfect family/home life that I long for. My husband is always reminding me to embrace the crazy, messy, happy home life and not get down about the dream of order, quiet, and hand-knit socks 🙂 He’s right! And if I’m really paying attention, I realize we actually do have bits and pieces of the dream that have found a place amongst the chaos 🙂 (no knitting here, but by golly, my kids WILL have hand-made crochet mittens 😉 )

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 19, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Yes! When i paid attention i realized there are elements of my vision of what we do and to appreciate them and work on areas where i feel there’s a gap//progress! Can’t wait to see these mittens!!

  5. Gina on January 19, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Oh yeah, perfection is a beast I daily have to fight. I just want to get so many things done, and done well…and well, I just can’t do it. So…I’m right there with you. Nothing is ever picture-perfect magazine-ready in my life. Ever. And the hair, I’m so with you on that. If only I had someone to do it for me.

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 19, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      I would settle for a lady’s maid. Haha

  6. Tiare on January 27, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Oh I think everyone can relate. But isn’t that quest for reconciliation of what we want and what we have part of the challenge and fun? I think so. My hope is to somehow keep the house clean for a week without breaking a sweat or uttering a single instruction to anyone else in my house. Ha, just reading that aloud makes me snort laugh too. ; )

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 27, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Clean for a WHOLE WEEK?? hahahah 🙂