At Work

Battling the ‘Better Homes & Gardens’ Way of Life

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The contents of my purse are bizarre.

As a working mom, I need to be prepared for anything, so my purse is a reflection of what I think those things might be.

It’s also a record of past events, memories that haven’t made it to their final resting places.

It’s home to my five-year old son’s rescue inhaler for his mild asthma and hand sanitizer for germs lurking around every corner. There is also a small stuffed animal from a past birthday party and notes I scribbled on a random piece of cardstock during church.

You’ll also find receipts from Target, where my family and I spent a rainy Saturday morning, and dry-cleaning claim tickets. These tasks are on a seemingly never-ending loop, but they’re reminders of my roles as a wife, mother, and economist – the roles of a juggler.

It’s the Little Victories

In the Better Homes & Gardens version of my life, I would clean out my purse every evening and dutifully file or throw away my receipts. Stuffed animals would make their way to the toy box. The nearly empty bottle of hand sanitizer would remind me to add sanitizer to next week’s grocery list.

I long for this version of life, where my dinner plates are never chipped and my house is always ready for unexpected company.

In reality, I feel like I deserve a Nobel Prize for getting two small children out the door with remotely clean teeth, fresh clothes, and a quick waffle (no syrup because who has time for that?).

When these things happen without tempers flaring or a mini-meltdown from Mommy or the babies, it feels like victory.

And it is.

I know many mothers who feel each day is a win when they can extend a little more grace than they feel they can muster, or when they reserve the eye-roll for a situation that actually deserves contempt.

The Curse of ‘Better Homes & Gardens’

I’d be lying if I said I had it all figured out. There is a great deal I don’t know about my own life and the path I’m taking, and I think we can say this is true for all of us.

What I do know is that God calls us to do messy things. This will look different for each of us.

What God wants us to pursue and what our culture tempts us to chase are radically divergent. This is what I call the ‘Curse of  Better Homes & Gardens‘ as seen on social media where we highlight only the good, sharable moments of our lives.

The issue is two-fold: magazines suggest we should aspire to picture-perfect lives. Then social media urges us to compete with each other for these kinds of lives, reinforcing our self-doubt as things fall apart.

So what do we do?

Precious Moments (Are More than Just Figurines)

The other day I was packing lunches and had given my five-year old son, Parker, and my two-year old daughter, Bailey, half of a bagel with cream cheese. I found them as they’re depicted in this picture, Parker on the stairs and Bailey on the floor. It was far from picture perfect (they’re eating on the floor, for crying out loud), but it was such a sweet, precious moment together.

Bradley Kids_Upright

This is what the juggle of motherhood is about – the sweet moments. They’re the cure for the ‘Curse of Better Homes & Gardens.’ These sweet moments are glimpses of God’s grace.

My life is messy. Just look in my purse. My life is not neat and tidy and Facebook-ready, but it’s the life that’s been gifted to me and I am grateful for it.

God asks each of us to live in to who he has called us to be. He asks us to steward the gifts he’s given us with wisdom and gratitude.

Working motherhood is a juggle. It’s messy and filled with turmoil. It’s also precious.

It’s in these sweet moments that I see that God knows what he’s doing with me. Trust that he knows this for you, too, even when he asks you to do something that’s messy.

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  • Drew Petrey

    Very well said Dr. Bradley, many thanks for sharing!

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