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From the Homefront: From the Homefront: Blogging and the rise of the guilty mother

Published: Tuesday, June 28 2011 6:00 a.m. MDT

It didn’t begin with blogging. Since Cain slew Abel, I’m sure every mother has blamed herself for the bad choices her children make.

It’s just that with blogging, the guilt has gone public. When the world was a small place, as big as the neighborhood block, you had only to compare yourself to your immediate circle of women and mothers.

With the rise of television, you had a new cast of characters to help you feel inadequate. They walked around in high heels, ensconced in frilly aprons. June Cleaver’s lipstick never faded. When her son came with his troubles, she bent down and delivered a beautifully crafted response.

There was still a buffer because these people were actors. You could console yourself with the fact these mothers walked off a set, wiped off the lipstick and went home to a real life.

Now we have blogs. Beautiful, lovely, shining blogs, featuring women who grow chickens, children and corn, who sew quilts in their sleep, design a line of baby wear, write a New York Times best-seller, and apparently never sleep. Their children are porcelain-skinned, and their husbands have deep pockets and Ivy League credentials.

The frosting on the cupcake is that many of these uber-bloggers are LDS. We are sisters in Zion. We don’t want to compare ourselves to them, and we especially don’t want to like them, but it's a commandment. We just keep coming back because we’re in the middle of their story, and we can’t put it down. We have to turn the page.

At the point in my day when I’ve perused my favorite blogs, I begin to hyperventilate. I am in my 30s and have yet to publish a book. We had pancakes for dinner, again. My children are whining (blog children never whine), and I don’t know if I will ever finish sewing the shower curtain for the downstairs bathroom. The neighborhood bunny gang is eating my flower garden. I have five loads of unfolded laundry piled on my bed.

You can see where this is going, and it’s nowhere good.

“Why don’t you stop reading them?” my husband asks, after hearing for the fifth time that a certain mother published a book, and another mother built an ice-skating rink in her backyard a week after birthing her sixth child.

I have, occasionally, declared a moratorium on rock-star bloggers. Maybe that’s the thing: I’m sitting in my house comparing myself to rock stars. I don’t get to see the behind-the-scenes at their house. Maybe their office looks like mine with its stacks of unread mail. Maybe their children do whine.

Maybe not. Maybe their lives are as shiny and gilded as they let on.

I’ve found the best way to combat inadequacy is to do two things. First, I remember I am comparing my worst to someone else’s best. Of course my office is a wreck, but you should see the vegetable garden I planted this year. My kids may not be stars of the soccer team, but they’re happy and don’t really care to be stars. They build some pretty impressive Lego creations. I may never publish that book, but that doesn’t stop me from loving the writing process more than almost anything.

The second thing I do is turn to my own, humble blog. It is a simple display of life’s quiet joys and to look at it brings me happiness to see the chronicle of my children and my plants and my Friday night pizza.

If everyone were a rock star, the stage would get a little crowded, don't you think? Sometimes it’s just fine to be a fan in the audience, admiring the feats of others but knowing you're doing just fine right where you're standing.

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Tiffany Gee Lewis writes humorous and thoughtful commentary on the life of a stay-at-home mother in her column, From the Homefront, which appears on MormonTimes.com on Tuesdays.

Follow her blog, "The Tiffany Window," at http://thetiffanywindow.wordpress.com.

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