Emily McDowell strangers on internet print

Emily McDowell strangers on internet print

I love Pinterest and Instagram (like, a lot), but sometimes they leave me feeling less than. As if my unstyled, wild and chaotic life is somehow not good enough when propped up next to gorgeously curated feeds. But, the thing is, they’re all just that: curated. Tiny little snippets of someone’s life that they deem good enough for the universe to judge them on.

While I love the idea of inspirational images feeding our creativity and making us strive to do and be a little bit better, I don’t like the days when I’m left feeling not good enough. I have a tendency to spiral out of control and sometimes all it takes is a well-styled photo of a family that looks like it climbed out of a J. Crew catalog to do just that.

Thinking about this made me decide to take seven random photos of mornings in our house. None of them are styled. The lighting isn’t always particularly good. Our house is messy and our hair is undone, but that’s life. 

7 Mornings: MondayMonday

5:17 am. The wriggling starts. I don’t even know how or when this ninja child made her way into my bed, but the elbows and feet rolling all over me let me know that she’s there. The next thing I know, a cool, flat, jarring surface is pressed against my cheek. “Mommaaaaaa?” Ellie whispers. “Can I play a game on your phone?” Desperate for even twenty more minutes of sleep, I reach over her, fumbling on my nightstand for her headphones. I plug them in, put in my password, open the folder full of kids apps and hand it over to her.

A couple of minutes later I hear her groping around for her hand-me-down Kindle. The games I have aren’t good enough, obviously. I help her make the switch and collapse back onto my pillow, woken up every couple of minutes by her little voice talking to a game or insisting that I need to see something before I finally admit to myself that sleep just isn’t happening.

7 Mornings: Tuesday


My husband is away, so this morning I have two wriggly, tech obsessed snuggle bunnies in my bed. I lay there longer this morning, since I worked later into the night last night and there’s no one else whose sleep they might disturb. I doze intermittently, woken up by giggles or fighting or whispers. Finally, I bolt up realizing that it’s later than I want it to be. I scurry around like a mouse trying to get breakfasts and lunch ready before school. They stay in my bed, huddled together watching Hailey’s Magical Playhouse on Samantha’s Nook. This is how I find them when I bring them their breakfast. I would gladly take a bite of each of them if I could.

7 Mornings: Wednesday


Ellie has become incredibly opinionated about her hair and clothes, which can make school mornings (she goes to preschool three days a week) a major battle. Last night, she had me put her hair into three braids (unable to stand still while I did so, of course) so that her hair would be really curly in the morning. She hates to sit still while I try to finger comb through what’s left of her messy braids (note the hand on the left at the ready for complaining) after a night of rolling around like a wild thing. The sass is strong in this one.

7 Mornings: Thursday


We’re at the dollar store. I need supplies for an upcoming project and Ellie is as cheeky as ever… as you might be able to tell from the outfit she cobbled together: Dora pajama pants, bright red (clashing) t-shirt, patterned hoodie that fights with everything else. The ponytail to keep her hair out of her face and food and whatever paint or glue she would play with throughout the course of the day was the battle I found worth fighting for. She eventually relented, but turned the feistiness up a few notches and marched around the store like a warrior queen—which effectively softened both of us.

7 Mornings: Friday


I’m home alone. The girls are at school, my husband’s at work, and I have a pile full of freelance work to get through. But when I turn my head and catch this scene out of the corner of my eye, I’m torn. Do I clean? Do I rage that the girls left their room looking like a disaster zone? Do I ignore it and get a podcast going and just get into work mode? This, my friends, is my eternal work from home struggle.

Spoiler alert: cleaning rarely wins.

7 Mornings: Saturday


We are so lucky this fat cat of ours is so sweet and dopey. Ellie is obsessed with him and spends many mornings (and afternoons and nights) using him as her doll. Whether she’s cooing and hugging him by laying her entire body on him or deciding to play dress up with him like she did this morning, she’s smitten. Luckily for all parties involved, this sweet fella sits and takes it (for the most part)—which may or may not have something to do with the fact that Ellie is quick to give out treats.

7 Mornings: Sunday


This right here is bliss. It’s 9 am and I’m still warm and toasty under the cloud-like cocoon of our oh-so fluffy winter blanket. It’s absolutely amazing what a few extra hours of sleep (with the help of a husband and a white noise machine) can do for a girl. The madness of the last week almost melts away—along with any residual grumpiness.

This momma is feeling fresh and ready… until I head down the stairs and immediately break up a fight. But that’s kind of par for the course, right?

This post is part of my 52 Essays project. In 2015, I set a goal for myself to write one finished piece every week. I failed miserably and only published 16 of them. This year, it’s my mission to complete the project. Some will be good. Some will be less good. Hopefully you’ll love them. Maybe you’ll hate them. We’ll just have to wait and see. 😉 17/52

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.