Every few months I receive a Pottery Barn catalog. We receive quite a few catalogs and most of them trigger similar feelings of inadequacy. Williams Sonoma, JCrew, and even the occasional Sears catalog can trigger feelings of doubt. The truth is, if we had the house, the kids, and the dog we’d likely never recreate the Pottery Barn experience in our daily lives (notice how the wall paint nearly always matches the holiday they are decorating for!) satisfactorily.
I fear it would be a rare day but here is the kind of daily fantasy that these catalogs trigger for me…
It is the late afternoon and the children and I emerge from the spotless kitchen in matching aprons to greet daddy at the door with freshly made pumpkin cream cheese muffins and fresh pressed apple cider. Then we all go out in the yard and rake leaves in front of our home decked out with scarecrows, pumpkin and straw bales. We come inside and I pull the casserole out of the oven and place it on the marble island while the children help set the table and pull the side dishes out of the double door stainless steel fridge. We have a leisurely meal together and discuss our days at work and school. We help the children with their schoolwork after dinner and possibly play a family board game. Before bed, everyone lays out their freshly pressed clothes, lunches and backpacks for the next day. Everyone brushes their teeth and takes showers without any fuss. My husband and I spend some quality time together, alone, and possibly share a glass of chianti before retiring to our california king bed with perfect corners. The house is clean, the laundry baskets are nearly empty, and the breakfast table is already set. It’s about 10 pm and we’re ready to sleep.
I know from friends, relatives, and anonymous online blogs that this is a fantasy. This is why I worry that DH and I could never manage kids. I think this image would be shattered and we would always feel like failures for not making this happen. And, without children, we sometimes feel inadequate and different from our family and peers. Catalogs like pottery barn often trigger these emotions.