You know all those bloggers/articles/people who are so convinced that happy, eager, earnest, and curious people like me are secretly hiding our dark side and desperate unhappiness? The ones who say we cry ourselves to sleep each night no matter our public front? (Yes, I actually read such a statement within the past four months). The satirical blogs that lambast people for living in “perfect world” while implying that we’re concealing deep pain beneath our razzle dazzle?

They’re right. My life is utterly horrible.

At least, believing such a thing was part of my self-given writing assignment today. What would it be like to walk around looking for things to criticize, hate, and judge negatively?

After all, it has happened more than once that I have been critiqued for not offering balance in this blog. My blog has definite purposes: 1) show thankfulness and appreciation for beauty and goodness in the world; 2) be a record for family members who keep up with my comings and goings via my blog; 3) explore the ways in which we are free agents writing our own narratives and move about in a symbolic world; 4) chronicle for my children our best times; and 5) inspire others to create and work hard to make beautiful memories in their own lives/be a source of rough ideas for lesson plans and school options. Although many of my current experiences revolve around my family, I actually don’t consider myself a “mommy blogger.” They just happen to be the means through which I grapple with the world most of the time. I actually consider this blog more philosophical than anything else, (that is, when it is not a boring-or-not-boring diary entry of my daily life) and was starting to hit more of a stride with that last spring.

It’s even been suggested that I am probably not as happy as I seem to be. It’s even been suggested that anyone who isn’t offering harrowing accounts of their ups and downs every moment in life must not be “real.”

Since when did misery and complaint become the standard for being real?

So I decided to Velveteen Rabbit my butt today. We’re getting all Velveteen Rabbit up in here. Can I take a single day of my life and make the move from fake to real? Can I become dissatisfied enough with my choices and my family to win finally the title of cynical and judgmental realist? It would take some effort, but I woke up ready for the task. I mean, who wants to be just a stuffed bunny all her life? Right?

So here we go:

5:45 AM:

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Getting up early to run really sucks. (Sorry for the diction, but I have to use the words most common to people who complain). I hate being up early (how am I doing so far?). Look at that unkempt bed hair. Geesh. You’d think I’d be glad some day to be confined to my bed in old age. Then I will never have to get up, slug through sleepiness, and greet the sunrise again. Part of my fakery has been to celebrate my freedom to do this, to enjoy my body’s ability to work hard and pull through sleepiness for a longer term goal. What was I thinking? I should have been dwelling all this time on how hard it is…

5:47 AM:
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The cut and bruise (under the skin, against the bone) that I got yesterday while playing full throttle with Eric, Katie, and the other soccer kids at the park? Dang, maybe I shouldn’t have even pushed myself today. Then I can be a victim of my own circumstances, and then whine about them. Instead, I can’t quite shrug off my optimistic ways completely (this being real thing will take practice), and I hurt each time this leg/foot hits for 5, 477 steps of my 5 mile run. Really, it hurts for 2,700-something steps, since it only hurts when I hit this leg on the pavement, so I guess I should be thankful—oops, my bad, that silver-lining crap is not allowed for non-fake people.

I decide on mile three that so far I am failing my assignment—it is hard for a runner to be in a bad mood. I think about ways to up the ante. Hm. My hurt leg… What is that acronym that entitled people like to use about their first world problems? MILF? No. That’s something else completely. FEMA? FEMLA? What is it? Oh yeah: FML. That’ll show my life what’s what. The more I FML, the more raw and real I will be.

7:00 AM:

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I missed the trash when I was trying to throw my tea wrapper away. Time to start cussing. From what I can tell, cussing always equals real.

8:07 AM:
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And now I find there’s no toilet paper. We have some still left upstairs, but I guess I should have hoarded some a little better. Man, my whole day is ruined now…

10:15 AM:

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My washing machine, which is old and a hand-me-down, had the dial break off. How unFAIR. That’s right, I used it. The F-word. I usually never use this word because of its perverse meaning (which is, “I am not getting exactly my way so I am going to whine about the universe and its luck factors”), but as a newly minted pessimist who feels abjection over everything and also like a constant victim, I am going to lament how unfair my life is that I can’t have everything perfectly working in my house or the newest of everything. I mean, why should I have to allocate money and make choices/sacrifices? If I could have the newest and best of everything, it would be so much more fair because…because.

10:30 AM:

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I decide that I need to figure out a reason to be angry or upset with my husband so I can publicly shame him. Maybe if I publicly shame him, not only will I be more real (hurrah!) but also I will generate the side benefit of starting a petty fight with him and making our lives more miserable and real this evening, too. Maybe I will emasculate him enough so that he will change whatever behavior I put online for the world to vilify. I’ve got it, I think! The computer cords. FML, and when I am trying to vacuum, too.

10:32 AM:
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Darn it. On the day I need it MOST, the precise day I ascend to being real and complaint-ridden, the VERY day, this is the worst mess I can find from my children. Usually, our house is much, much more toy-strewn, but I bore down and picked up yesterday. Guess I should have spent a whole blog last night boring people to tears with how difficult it is to pick up toys (or coach the children to pick up toys) day after day. It makes me real, dontcha know? But no, like most moms I just hunker down and do it and try to keep my house as tidy as possible without whining about it. It’s a job. Motherhood is work. I knew that when I signed up…but I need to start pretending I didn’t, so I can act surprised when it turns out to be work. Then I can find grounds to complain…maybe the “not fair” route again? It’s so hard, I don’t like work, it’s not fair. Then I start comparing myself to other mothers and their clean houses, because you CAN’T be real without feeling insecure, too. My college education, work and life experience, and anything else that gave me the confidence to make decisions and stand by them and to like myself at the same time—well, I guess I should forget all about those. Because confidence in a woman is unforgivable, isn’t it?

12:10 PM:

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I got lazy and slacked off on my assignment of looking for negativity for a bit. Then lunch hit. Score! Eric pointed to his cucumber, “I don’t like this.” When I asked him how he knew since he’s never tried it like that, he then pointed to his yogurt covered raisins, “I don’t like those, either.”

What are you—an alien? Who doesn’t like yogurt covered raisins?

There, I did it. I have now publicly shamed my son’s dislike for lunch. Publicly complaining about children online as a requisite for being real? Check. My creds are building, I can feel it. Too bad it has to stay online forever and ever so that he may one day find it. In my life of fakery, I often avoid doing this for ethical reasons (just as I avoid shaming my husband), but to be real, you’ve got to throw as many people as possible under the bus. Sorry, Eric. Take one for the team, buddy.

After lunch, I start getting very bored with my assignment for the day. It’s hard to find things to dislike, let alone hate. I wish I could muster up some jealousy or something for some random person, but I’m just not feeling it. My mind is too habituated to improving myself and owning my own flaws, versus hating others for their accomplishments. I am not accustomed to making comparisons between myself and others…what to do, what to do? I seem to be stuck.

I begin thinking about Leo Tolstoy’s opening line to Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I’ve always thought that was a strange line. To me, it is unhappiness that seems dreary and dull. Critiquing everything as pathetic, unworthy, or unfair   starts to be monotonous. You can predict exactly how a negative person will react to most things. But joy and hope and optimism have so many more nuances, to me. I guess only negative emotions are valid ones, though, in our culture.

Because I want to get this piece published today, I get the kiddos set up with popcorn and Cinderella. I am one of those real moms who sometimes pulls out a movie to get a breather in the afternoon now that they no longer nap. Heck, sometimes? More like “fairly frequently.” I am home free, I think, and then freaking yes! They start arguing over which movie…oh boy, my bunny fur is becoming shabbier and more real by the second. It gets better when one of them has a brief meltdown about something unrelated to the movie. Out of everything good and beautiful my kiddos and I experienced today, I should blog about the minor irritations and make that my focus, right? Because by some axiom, it is so much better to focus on what goes wrong. I think the word is “relatable.” I don’t usually relate well to people who like to focus on life’s bummers, that’s the problem, and those aren’t the kinds of bloggers I read. I relate to people who are looking for excellence, trying to discipline their minds, and producing things, moments, memories of value that will keep our world evolving toward a more lovely and successful place for everyone. When we spend our time complaining, we are ungrateful. When we are ungrateful, we are the furthest away we can possibly be from humility.

By this afternoon, I give up on my assignment. I’ve got enough for my satire piece, and truly, I am spending too much time hunting around for trouble. With only so many hours in a day, I need to spend that time making things as beautiful as I can no matter how challenging that may be sometimes.

Besides, we had this to make:

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And I don’t want to spend one more second of this day not celebrating it for its unfettered potential. It’s time to make magic, if only for a moment.

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