Everyone knows it’s easy to look good online.
On the proverbial paper of this digital age, everyone has it good: family photos glowing, updates shining. It doesn’t take much to be funny, it takes even less to be present. Even bad news somehow orders itself neatly in status boxes, promising only compartmentalized drama.
In reality, the screen in the bedroom window is torn; it flaps in the breeze against the blinds like an errant moth caught underneath a paper cup. Our furniture isn’t new. The sofa in the den is a 1980s throwback roughly the size of a blue whale. In the backyard, the dogs have made mud of most of the yard, and Sam has even found a way through the fence; we barricade his escape with plywood squares we’ve been meaning to replace since January.
Our bathrooms could use a remodel. In the kitchen, the fluorescent light cover cracked years ago (the result of an errant basketball bounced a tad too high); we can’t find the right sized panel, so it remains bare. We’ve gotten used to it. Nate could use a new desk and I’ve been wanting a full-sized dining room set for our family of five for years, but we recently pulled up all the carpeting and laid down hardwood (ourselves, under backbreaking labor), and anything else will have to wait (at least until we’ve replaced the dryer).
We have jobs, but we don’t make as much money as some of you. We have a savings account, but it’s not going to pay three kids’ college tuition any time soon. We have things, some that we love and some that we need and many that we don’t. We pare down the stockpile of material possessions every once in a while, cleaning out the garage and boxing things up and carting them to the car, but inevitably, when we walk back in, we notice the stain on the rug again and we sigh.
Never mind what I said before: on paper, we’re kind of a mess.
You know what though? We shouldn’t care. We worry about the wrong things, and for a moment or two a day, if we’re lucky, we realize this (perhaps while chopping vegetables or searching for soccer cleats or typing this blog post). We finally see the blue sky framed by the neat bay window and hear the birds chirping and ah-hah! We shake our heads to clear them, and we try to hang onto that feeling. The one that reminds us that at least we have a house demanding upkeep. We have two bouncy dogs who make us laugh. We have clothes to dry and lights to turn on and food to set on the (too small) table.
We have a family of five.
And we’re happy. Legitimately, truly, hand-to-God happy. And it’s as simple as that.
Or at least it can be, if we let it.