It's all about the detail...

posted on: Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Never before have the details in life seemed so noticeable to me. In almost every aspect of my little life, these details appear; that bit extra that makes something special. I have a friend who always says 'it's the detail!' when we shop for clothes. I am always the one looking for the best leather, the quirky detail, the right buttons.

Natalia Vodianova via a taste of blue
In motherhood, I see it's those little details that can make the day go more smoothly. Where I have have their favourite cakes as an after-school snack. At home, the meal that happens effortlessly but is made with the best ingredients and goes all to plan. The patience and coaching as I sit with them to do homework. I am noticing that given the time and pure dedication, it is possible for me to provide all of those little details.

Historically, I have always had a quiet awe for women who manage this. They are a certain type who are able to constantly stay one step ahead. When the children were smaller, these mothers were the ones who would (with a swish of a perfect ponytail) serenely draw out a nutritious snack and drink, where I would have forgotten mine and my toddler would have to chew on their own hands!

But...and I wouldn't be me if there wasn't a but...what is it all about?! Never before have I had the time or the inclination to be so bothered with these little details. Instead a perpetual inner dialogue in my head raged; always justifying why I couldn't make the perfect meal/be the best mother I could be/have lipstick and pretty dress on as my husband returned at the end of a busy work day. I railed against being too organised. But now I begrudgingly admit I judged those women whose day consisted of little else but managing these details. And look at me now; pot calling the kettle black.

There is a hint of Stepford wife-dom in my life at the moment, as I sense that I am subconsciously trying to make up for all my past wrongs. But the point is: they weren't wrongs exactly, they were just less-thans. I did less than I could have done, as I put priority into other areas; like time for myself or for my job.

via nantucket youth
I do enjoy the little details and it's a quiet thrill now to be able to provide them for my family...but I do wonder if it's unsustainable. All of this 'thinking' time is about me trying to establish how to live a life that does not burn the candle at both ends until everything is, frankly, well, extinguished. I read a book that is shiveringly accurate in its depiction of 'perfect' motherhood and its darker side. It's called 'This Perfect World'...and I have to say it was disturbing reading; for the degree to which I identified with these ΓΌber mothers.

I know to some readers this will seem like an unimaginable depth of navel-gazing. But I find myself really questioning these elements of life at this time.  We only get one chance at this; what is the best way to choose to live your life? Constantly striving for perfection or content with what you have? 

I am thinking the best place to start this fundamental life pondering is with a cuppa tea and a good book; I'll let you know if I find the answer but until then...


  1. I really do think that it is all about balance, what combination of being at home, working, learning, exercising, relaxing etc really works best for us and our families. I don't think perfect balance is attainable probably (well I haven't found it for sure!), but life is largely about exploring/finding that balance of priorities and pleasures that, at the end of the day, feels the most satisfying and fulfilling and efficient. I think for every person this balance will feel unique, so what is right for one person isn't for another, which is nice because it stops the need for comparison and judgement. I don't think I'll ever get to the point where I feel I have got it all worked out, but the exploration is the learning of a lifetime, no? Enjoy the journey is my mantra, and I love that you are having some really good times, discovering lovely details along the way, in your quest for a balanced life. Reading between the lines, it sounds like you might be the kind of person who is driven for perfection, so don't be too hard on

  2. Dear Lou,
    Take it from me....there is no answer. All of those little details mean absolutely nothing and, a lot of them, are quite shallow. My advice is, give your chilren ( and your husband, of course !!) as much love and time as you can... make the most of yourself and give the family a decent meal and you will find that all will be well. Just don't try to live up to anyone don't know what is happening when these 'perfect' mother's get home. It is likely that they spend so much time on how they look, what their home looks like and getting the perfect gourmet meal on the table that they forget to give time to their dancing in the kitchen as Simone does !! Much more rewarding that having the right lip gloss.
    Over the years, I have learnt not to care what others think or do. Just go with your heart and try not to question everything !!
    You are doing a great job. XXXX

  3. Wow...I am going to chew on this for a while :)

  4. It's so interesting to read this and I could relate so well to what you were describing.
    I think (and I may be totally wrong here) that it comes down to 'motive'. The 'why does it have to be that way'.. If the answer is because it makes you happy, feel good, makes your kids smile, fills your heart with joy, puts a big smile on your husband's face.. then go all out darling. If not, then pull back and stick to the middle-lane where you can relax in comfort without upsetting anyone. Life is for sure a balance of give and take, and 'perfection' is such a subjective statement.

    Be you. We love what you are.

    xx Charlotta

  5. I think whatever part of your life it is in, feeling more inc ontrol and organised can be a rush. Feeling like you *should* be doing other things can get in the way.

    It's hard to call though. I know for me to be in the moment I need to feel like I have all my ducks in a row. But maybe, just maybe the thing that would help is to be in that moment? When I have been tired and had no other choice but to do that it has felt good..for a while. Then the shoulds come back.

    I'm going to keep reading though. I don't think there is a right answer but I want to see what answer you find for yourself. I hope it works for you.


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