It used to be that the Proverbs 31 Lady was held up as the near-impossible ideal for us: wife, mother, transactor of business, clother of children, maker of bed coverings, laughing at the future.
These days she has a new rival for perfection. I call her Aunt Alberta, and she makes old Prov.31 sound like a slob by comparison. She doesn't bring her food from afar, because that's not politically correct; it has to come from within a hundred miles, and must not include bananas or anything that's not fairly traded. The organic spinach and cauliflower she buys at the local farmstand cannot be eaten raw, because that's not nutritionally correct. Everything in her fridge is in glass, not plastic, and she dumped her non-stick pots a long, long time ago. When she talks about canned tomatoes, she means the organic ones that she put in jars herself. She makes her own laundry soap as well as most of her other cleaners, and puts out only one tiny bag of garbage a week because she is recycling everything in sight (and is training her children to do the same). All her children's art supplies are made by hand by Waldorf elves living deep in the forest. She knits her socks from recycled plastic bags (which she gets from the neighbours, because she carries only reusable bags herself), and she's replaced all her appliances with energy-saving models that run only at off-peak hours. If she could do the same with her husband and children, she probably would. Her favourite musical instrument is the djembe...she's building one herself in her spare time. Out of sustainable materials.
There is no place in this woman's world for a 99-cent box of store-brand oatmeal cookies.
Now, personally, I prefer a batch of homemade raisin bars, or if we're going a bit fancier, a pan of brownies sprinkled with chocolate chips. I can get either of those in the oven pretty quickly if I have to. Or maybe an on-sale bag of Peek Freans, even though I think the bags hold less than they used to. Homemade is a good thing.
Nutrition is good too.
So is recycling.
But all at once...it can be overwhelming. Especially if you feel like something's going to get you if you don't get it together.
There are times when a small bowl of sliced apples, the season's first clementines and some store-bought oatmeal cookies, work fine as dessert. There are nights when your husband comes home late from a work emergency, and you know you're going to be the one washing the dishes by hand later. There are days when you're busy teaching French and Uncle Eric and division and not beating on each other, and you are lucky just to get a couple of loads into the washer, let alone make your own detergent and a scrubulous dessert and not mix them up. (Yum, what's that foamy stuff in the oven?)
There are seasons when you do some or all of those good things, or you start taking baby steps, or giant steps, into places you've never been before, because health or finances or allergies or consciousness or conscience dictates a change.
But there are also times to say enough...especially when it seems like the more we start to do, the more we could do. Count up all the responsible, grown-up, frugal, intelligent things you have managed to do lately--in the home or outside of it. You are probably doing more than all right. Don't look at the vast, empty prairie of what you do not feel able to take on. Just look at where you are. For some people the step of taking the cookies out of the box and arranging them on a plate with fruit is enough of a change for now. For others, getting all the socks off the living room floor is good. Some may have moved on to blue agave nectar, but others are still just getting out of the starting gate when it comes to alternative sweeteners.
As one person posted recently about homeschooling, when she says that they did such and such, you need to remember that you're listening to someone who's been at this for Seventeen Years, and you are not to knock yourself over the head because you don't get as much accomplished as she does.
So don't let Aunt Alberta do that to you either. Just pass her a cookie and