The illusion of life through photos

21 Apr

I use to read more blogs than I do now. Early on in both my knitting and parenting lives, when I was still wide eyed and absorbing every bit of information like a sponge, I use to scour the internet for wisdom and guidance. I remember coming across, as we all have, the blogs of women who had it all together. Immaculate, enviable craft rooms, beautiful houses, angelic children, and both the time and patience to keep them all up.

Even though I think I’m not as materialistic as the stereotypical woman (I own mere six pairs of footwear and two purses) I wondered if I was missing something by not having the hip barn door upcycled to a craft bench or vintage glass jars to hold my supplies. Would my children be as wonderful and seemingly content if we built that Montessori style bedroom for them or took the time to walk barefoot through the woods together?

After a while I started finding myself looking at old photos of me and the family with this same kind of longing. Wait, this was it! It’s the deception of  the photos! These split second snippets that I thought were wholly representational of lives were not at all. Hell, any life is going to look amazing if you capture that right second or the right angle.

So here’s a little exercise in perception.

Remember my button post?  Here’s what my counter really looked like at the time.

Too lazy to even clean up my dirty dishes.  And speaking of dishes,

Here was my kitchen yesterday.  At about 4pm.  Those are breakfast crumbs and droppings.  At 4pm.  Because I wanted to sit around and knit instead.

Oh, and the cardigan photo on the button post?  Here’s the real scene.

This table is 90% dedicated to the boy’s toys, so whenever I want to use it I just shove his stuff in the window.  And that’s not nice defused light coming in the window, it’s hazy since I hadn’t washed the outside of the window since we moved into this house in January of 2010 [note: it has since been cleaned, but only because someone else did it for me.]

And today, here is my living room.

Yes, that’s my four year old, standing a foot and a half from the television.  Yes, to the left of the chair is a toothbrush and half a pancake that I didn’t pick up when we ran out of the house in a hurry this morning.  Sometimes mess and tv have to be the sacrifices for some craft time sanity around here.  I use to feel bad about that.  But now, whatever.  I’ve become so conscious of how I try my best to hide these things in photos, as we all do, as if future generations will remember me falsely as a clean person.  *Snicker*

But what a cute old little house, you say?  Yes, it is cute.  And old.

It sometimes strikes me as a sweet old place, full of history and charm.  But most days it’s more sad geriatric to which the previous owner did some quick fixes that seem akin to putting this old gal in a nursing home.  Just hang out over there for a bit longer, will ya?  For example:

No, this isn’t to look at the cute cupboard or the messy carpet.  It’s to show you the reason we can’t have nice hardwood floors here.  See those shims under the shelf?  They’re compensating for the inch and a half difference between the floor level between the back and front of the shelf.  My whole poor living room sags.  And creeks.

Look again at my kitchen.  Those cupboards are vinyl coated.  Just like the floor.  The previous owners were obsessed with vinyl, plastic, anything synthetic.  So much original wood in this old house has been replaced by things that look nice but are horribly cheap.  It makes me nuts.

None of my old doors latch right.  My vinyl windows track crooked.  In the living room, when the summer morning sun hits just right, there is a strange pee smell that we cannot find the exact location of.

But it all looks great in photos, doesn’t it?


6 Responses to “The illusion of life through photos”

  1. Emmy Lou April 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    yes.true true

  2. Helen April 22, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I think my house looks messy in most of my pictures. It’s just never clean here. I just checked. Every picture I’ve posted this month inside the house shows a messy background. I probably have only a handful of clean house pics and none in the last year. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

    • wattsolak April 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

      I think your house looks real and lived in. I love it.

  3. Kathryn | Alpacamundo April 23, 2011 at 8:42 pm #


    I remember a while back some of the mommy-bloggers I read were doing a Truthful-Tuesday. At least I think it was on Tuesdays. It really only lasted a couple of weeks. My guess is, if you’re a mom with small kids perhaps the blog is the only thing that can be clean and organized.

    I love your green walls. 🙂

    • wattsolak April 24, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      Good point. I can understand the desire to control the cleanliness of the singular thing that no one else is going to mess up.

      And I love the green too 🙂

  4. Kat April 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    I ❤ you. And I feel your vinyl, quirky house pain.

    The idea that most people are not perfect is one that has been recently seeping into my brain. I read a post (maybe on about how you might read about the homeschooling mom, the crafting mom, the mom who takes old furniture and repurposes it, the mom whose kids never watch TV, the mom who feeds her kids only organic food she grew on her own homestead, etc etc etc — but they are not all the same person, and if you tried to do every cool thing that you see on the internet you might explode. Also, they are only sharing with you the pleasant, relevant moments — not the one where everything exploded and she screamed at her kids, I JUST NEED A MOMENT OF PEACE IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK! So yeah, that was comforting. That and culling my blog roll. I like inspiration, but I can only take so much of it.

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