Book Club Monday #3

 

Easy on the Eyes will be hitting shelves sometime in July, so the countdown continues with week 3 of my online book club! Thanks for all your participation — it’s been great so far to talk about Odd Mom Out and Mrs. Perfect—my two books that feature some of the same characters from Easy on the Eyes. I really been enjoying reading your opinions and answers, but here’s the best part for readers: your comment on each book club question enters you to win an Advanced Reading Copy of Easy on the Eyes. Read it before you can buy it! Then you can tell everyone about it.

Last week we discussed Odd Mom Out. This week let’s talk pull a question from the Reader’s Guide for Mrs. Perfect:

Can perfectionism and happiness find a reasonable balance in life? Can a woman lead an honest life if she is always giving the illusion of being the perfect mother and perfect wife with a perfect family and home?

Feel free to contribute without having read Mrs. Perfect, but be warned that the comments that follow may contain spoilers.

For more Mrs. Perfect, read an excerpt, download the whole Reader’s Guide, check out some book extras, and order your copy from Amazon!

About TIMING of PRIZES: The winner will be drawn (randomly, of course) shortly after the next book club gets posted. So, sometime next Monday, when I find a sliver of time between sleeping and caring for a itty-bitty baby, I will do the winner thing. If it waits until Tuesday, no one stress, okay? Thanks! And thanks for participating!

50 Comments

  1. I think the phrase, “always giving the illusion…” answers much of the question. If it’s an illusion or a show how could it be honest? I want my home to be clean but “perfect” is too hard to maintain with active children. Holding newborn babies is a special joy and I decided when the second baby came that I was going to enjoy being a mom and do what I could when I could. That takes the pressure off and my true friends still like me.

  2. My favorite people are the ones that aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect, either. I am a horrible perfectionist. At the same time, I learn more from my failures than from things that go perfectly.

    Taylor found her truest friend, Marta, when she became vulnerable enough to tell the truth about herself and her life. I think that’s true outside the pages of a book, too.

    Please give Mac a hug and a kiss for me!

    Julie

  3. pretending to be perfect in many ways will eventually come up and bite her in the butt; she is bound to make an error or someone will show up and things are in dissaray and they will see.

    There is a balance between being perfect and happy but it comes with a price, I’m sure. I’m sure that the perfectionist must ‘give’ somewhat though for happiness to come in. It would be too stressful otherwise.

  4. I think that sounds like a recipe for burnout. Better to stop and smell the roses, play with the kids, maybe order take out dinner once in a while. Molly Maid would be nice too.

  5. We call my mom Kathclean instead of Kathleen because she is a total neatfreak. That’s just her and she can’t help it. Not being perfect would make her miserable. She works at keeping her house and herself just so and loves it!

  6. I have tried myself for years to be perfect as far as my family and I know that I have burned out.
    I have found myself feeling like an unappreciated member of the family.
    I don’t believe even in a “Perfect’ world there is ever a happy balance between pefectionism and being happy.
    When I read Mrs. Perfect I thought how similar Taylor was to me. She just wants everyone to be happy and by them being happy and well taken care of she thinks herself to be happy when in reality she has lost the real Taylor somewhere along the way. That is the way I feel somewhere along the way of raising a family I lost myself.
    The women I envy seem to get it all done. I don’t know if they really do, but it makes me feel as though I have failed somewhere along the way because I feel that I can’t do it all even though I try.

  7. I think that chasing after perfect is going to always leave you disappointed. There is no perfect home, child, husband, pet, etc. Of course, not caring about anything at all is no good for you either. I watch the show Clean House and some of those homes are nasty looking. I think finding a happy medium is usually the best bet.

  8. What an ideal aspiration. To achieve perfection. Many think that they have attained that goal but it is actually elusive. Nothing is as important as ones principles, and values. These are meaningful and add to a person’s demension.

  9. My mom isn’t perfect but she always did what was best for us. In Perfect Mom, Taylor did what was best for her kids no matter what the situation was. My mom always rose to challenges and Taylor did also. My mom was not like Taylor in that the house was not perfect, but she was and is a terrific mom.

  10. My mother in law is a perfectionist. She is a wonderful person, but I think that her drive for perfection drove her a little crazy for awhile. She is more relaxed now.

  11. I was raised on a farm and my mother tried extremely hard to have everything perfect. As kids we would drag mud and dirt into the house and my mom and a young woman helper would scurry to clean it up. She made us keep our rooms clean and taught us how to cook delicious meals. I take pride in my little apartment now even if it’s not as perfect as mom’s house.

  12. Taylor liked herself (but did anyone like her) when she thought things were perfect, but she was constantly stressed out trying to stay on top and she was very demanding of others. It is good to have high standards, but there was no balance in her life and no acceptance of reality.
    Her perfectionism caused a lot of grief, especially for her husband and daughters who bore the brunt of being perfect “accessories” in her life. Once that image was smashed Taylor had to deal with reality and she grew as a person and was able to accept less and drop the pretense of perfection. Having to let go of the image brought her down to reality, where she found out who her real friends were and what false values she was teaching her daughters. She learned to see her husband as more than a big provider and they found the connection they had lost when having the perfect hair, outfit, house and kids, not to mention husband, dominated her thoughts. It is good to have high standards, but why make yourself and others miserable demanding perfection when it is unattainable?

  13. The definition of illusion is that it is not honest, it i not the truth. So illusion is not honesty. If one continues to live what is essentially a lie, eventually it will come crashing down around them. When one lives a life that is not honest, they cannot be truly happy, because they are not doing what makes them happy they are doing something else.

  14. My coworkers and I discuss this all the time. We can’t be perfect employees, perfect moms and perfect wives. There isn’t enough time or enough of us to make it happen. So we try to settle ending up feeling guilty when we didn’t give enough time at the last PTA function, didn’t bake enough brownies for the bake sale, didn’t put in the overtime or simply couldn’t muster the strength to read one more story. Perfection is brutal because we see everyone else on the outside never on the inside. We all struggle and it is an ongoing battle we just can’t win. Yet we all try. I guess the question is why? Is it honest, no. It is just an illusion to keep up with the Jones’. All it does is create hostility and animosity…sigh…

  15. I think part of this discussion has to deal with how we define perfect… what is perfect to one is not to another. What seems perfect to an outsider probably isn’t… think of a duck floating lazily on a pond — you don’t see the feet paddling to keep it going.

    For me, there are so many other things I would rather be doing than housework, so it always comes last. I’d rather spend time with my kids, take the dog for a walk, work in my garden, read a book, quilt, anything but housework. However I am the master of the quick pick up and please don’t ever look in my dryer because that’s where I toss everything on my whirlwind clean up!!!

  16. I read both Odd Mom Out and Mrs. Perfect. I found myself rooting for Marta in both books. She had confidence in who she was and didn’t let the opinion of others stand in her way. I really admired that. Just reading about Taylor and life she lived wore me out. Even getting her highlights done was a constant in her life and took up so much time. I would love to have things perfect–I just don’t have the energy.

  17. No because no one is perfect and no one can maintain the illusion indefinitely. And who is really happy if they’re not being themselves?

    No.

  18. This is a powerful question, Jane!
    I believe we are all perfect, at our core, the example being babies. Dishonesty to our own perfection comes when we buy into the illusion that we are flawed – and need to meet the expectations of others. Domestic skills and social status have no bearing on who we are as individuals. When we play these expectations forward, onto our children, in a judgment we place upon ourselves, we create an illusion. This will spiral us down an unhappy rabbit hole of failure. Our flaws are the cornerstone of our individuality, which makes them perfect flaws.

  19. I think that what is perfect for someone will not be perfect for another! And what you find to be perfect may not be forever…things change and so does life so perfection is really not always what you think it is.

    Hope all is well, Jane, with all the boys!! Have a great Memorial Day weekend!!

  20. Hello and a big hello to Melinda Leigh! Amen! There’s always one mother on the block whose house is a free for all – I too was one of them and it was so much fun. Perfect isn’t even in my vocabulary. Never strived to be that WORD. Too busy with work, and depositing the kids where they needed to be. Now Taylor, yes I was not that crazy about her at first but when things began to spiral downward, she immediately stepped up to the plate,and took the bull by the horns and did what she could to survive and provide for her children. God Bless Marta as well for looking beyond her past with Taylor and she too stepped up to the plate and turned out to be a wonderful friend to Taylor. Being perfect and happy – sounds great but does it exist? – I honestly don’t know!!

  21. I don’t think a person can lead an honest life if she is trying to be perfect. No one is perfect and attempting to project the illusion of being perfect would make a person unhappy.

  22. No. I think the balance is found in doing our best for ourselves, accepting that our best may not be perfect. If our goals center around impressing others, we imply inferiority to ourselves.

    Having said that, taking pride in our home and appearance is an expression of who we are, an artform for those who enjoy it. In this case, it’s not the what we do or care about, it’s the why.

    (And Jane, I am a compulsive poster – If my name comes up again, draw someone else!)

  23. I led a life full of illusions once. I was Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart all in one. I cooked, cleaned, looked as perfect as I could. I was also in an abusive marriage, both physical and mental. I was not true to myself, my marriage, my daughter, my friends…the only person happy with that person was my ex-husband. He should have married a Stepford wife.

    No, you can not lead an honest life if you are not honest with yourself.

  24. I guess this all depends on what your defination of perfect is. To me, a ‘perfect’ mother, house or family is one who loves each other, has memorable times, celebrates friends and family and laugh together. To get caught up in the notion of a clean house, kids on the honor roll, a husband who sends flowers, etc., etc., is the only way to have a perfect life is disappointing. These things are great when they happen, not the end to end all of providing happiness. Life must be enjoyed along the way, not just a trophy to flaunt for the sake of others. Who are you really kidding?

  25. Melinda #11 I hear you! We seem to be the kid magnet house also. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  26. I had an idea in my head that I was going to be the perfect mom and housekeeper. My mom was a career woman but I opted to stay home. ALL I did was cook and clean and wash and iron. After a few years and two children I decided to get more outside interests and keep the house reasonably clean. It saved my sanity.

  27. I think there can definitely be a balance, but only with a healthy dose of reality and understanding and accepting your limits.

    I am concerned that there is a real danger in women trying to present themselves as “perfect” — it sends the message to our youth that this is something to strive for. Instead we should be role models and send the message that so many women here have already figured out…the real perfection in life is your family, loving them, and enjoying them!

  28. I don’t think you can be honest iof you are living teh illusion of being perfect. No one is perfect. I understand that Taylor thought that if she had the perfect everything it would cancel out her previous life that wasn’t so perfect… I agree thatthe people that I enjoy most aren’t perfect! They do the best they can and make hapiness a priority for themselves and their families. I know that I am not the only mom that sends things in late, that forgets appointments of things she has to do. Thats because we are doing so many things at once and have a brain on overload!

    We recently decorated our livingroom. I had planned a “perfect” adult oasis that would always be clean. A place to read and relax. My husband decided that we needed a huge tv for that room. Now its our family oasis where we cuddle together and watch CSI Miami marathons. Its still perfect, just different. Still no food or drink allowed– so it is cleaner. But everyone is happy!

    When I read Mrs. Perfect all I could think of was how freaking exhausted Taylor must have been from forcing herself to be so perfect every moment of the day! And I agree — she did meet her truest friend in Marta who is perfect in so many other ways — that count the most!

  29. No–perfection does not exist. Be happy with who you are and don’t be consumed with making everyone believe you are perfect. You cannot be a truly a happy person if you try to be perfect all the time.

  30. I think we want to be perfect to exempt ourselves from criticsm. If no one can see any visible flaws then everyone will think you’re ok. Martha Stewart types usually show up flawed eventually.

  31. Those who try to give the illusion of everything is perfect are those who are usually the most unhappy and unbalanced. Being a good person, good friend and good parent are hard enough to achieve. People need to remember what’s most important in life, family and friends, anything else is a bonus.

  32. Life just isn’t going to be perfect for any of us and the effort needed to give that illusion can drive you around the bend. I also think perfectionist types are often very insecure and unable to relax and enjoy what they have without always needing more. They also tend to be more judgemental of others’ shortcomings

    Taylor was so caught up in appearances at the beginning of the book that she was totally clueless as to what was happening in her life. Circumstances forced her to make drastic changes and, for me, made her more likeable. Hope she didn’t revert to the “Old Taylor” when her life gets back on track.

  33. It’s not about being ‘perfect’, it’s about doing your ‘best’. If you do something to the best of your ability, then in the eyes of your family, you are perfect, there’s nothing better than that 🙂

  34. I don’t think so. Sadly enough, somewhere along the line of our life, we as girls and then as women, either learn or are taught to measure ourselves against other women. I don’t know if this is some ingrained DNA thing, or just a social learned thing. Fortunately some women realize this craziness and overcome it, and some like Taylor and her “friends” don’t. So women spend huge amounts of time trying to be perfect against those around us, and those in the media. You can’t have an honest life if you are giving off an illusion -nor do I think you can be happy. It takes way to much energy to project something you are not.
    I have a friend, who just about killed herself to project perfectionism. We used to tease her about it. Spotless home, bright, happy kids, lessons, outings with friends, amazing hubby, gave huge amounts of time to her church. She almost had a nervous breakdown, freaked out at a family function about how no one appreciates what she did for them. In counseling with her family, she discovered that how she was killing herself to have everything perfect wasn’t half as important to her family as it seemed to her. They would convey this, and she tuned it out. She learned to relax, and learned a new kind of perfectionism. That if everyone was alive and loved at the end of a day, regardless of dirty dishes or a pile of laundry, that is a perfect day.
    I used to portray a great life to friends. Everyone thought I was happy and content, and that was what I wanted everyone to think – my illusion. I am a survivor of a emotionally and mentally abusive husband. When people found out they were utterly shocked. “But your life seemed so great”, was something I hear alot of, and made it really hard to get help and support from those around me. Giving off illusions, whatever the intent behind them, can realy cause problems in the end.
    I learned, and far too late in life (around 32ish), that I really don’t care what anyone thinks of me. I found friends who loved me for all the good or bad I offer. That’s my best advice, find friends like that, and leave the illusions to David Copperfield and Lance Burton. :o)

    peace out

  35. Illusions can’t last, and they are very hard to maintain for a long period of time. Several posters said to do your best. That’s what is expected of us, and that is actually attainable!

  36. My way of looking at things is no one is perfect and never will be because we don’t live in a perfect world! You can pretend to be perfect but thats about it and it will bite you in the butt before its all over with! All a person can do is the best that they can and let things happen as they may!

  37. I truely don’t think there is such a thing as a “perfect” person. I think people can try and in doing so they live a very unhappy life. I too, have been guilty of trying to be and trying to do everything perfect. It makes you a miserable person to be around. I have found out it’s better to just enjoy life and care less about what others think! I agree with the post above….we don’t live in a perfect world, so how can we be perfect? I have not read Mrs. Perfect yet, but can’t wait to get to it!

  38. I don’t believe in pretending to be perfect. No one is! Behind every “perfect” family, person, etc. are a lot of flaws. I’d much rather know the genuine, real person behind the facade.

  39. Mrs. Perfect is my absolute favorite Jane book. I’ve read it several times, in fact. There is something about having the high-stress affluent life and seeing it all stripped away that is so appealing to me. I live the same kind of privileged lifestyle and often fantasize about being forced to move and downsize. To live in the kind of house where you can let your imagination run wild and decorate it any-which-way and not be chastized about resale value. To not be expected to be Supermom. I admire perfectionists with a great work ethic like Taylor, but I am never friends with women like her. Ever. If they are that hard on themselves then I figure they will be that hard on me. I muddle through life as best I can but I watch the Taylors of this world with fascination.
    I liked how Jane gave Taylor a very human, lower middle-class upbringing because I can identify with that & with wanting to rise above it. I’ve always thought that Martha Stewart must certainly have been scarred by her humble origins in New Jersey because nobody has pursued upper-class Connecticut chic the way Martha has.
    I do wish that Mrs. Perfect had ended with Taylor’s husband getting a job offer in Seattle for half his old salary. Getting swept away by Prince Charming (a job with double the salary and in a different country) is not nearly as challenging as having to live like regular people and interact with people from their previous life. Plus, if she stayed in Seattle there would more hope of having a follow-up book on Taylor and Marta!
    I loved what Suzanne said in a previous post– that life is not a trophy to be flaunted, it is to be lived and enjoyed. Well said!

  40. Had a friend years ago who always seemed to have the “perfectly” ordered house…dropped by her home unexpectedly one Sunday morning to leave a present…the Sunday paper was scattered on the floor!!! Oh, my! Such a little thing but, the jig was up and she
    seemed a bit more relaxed after that;)

  41. it all depends on one’s own definition on being perfect. and there’s nothing wrong with trying to be perfect as long as one doesnt punish herself for not being there and if they can laugh about it if ever caught for not being up to the standards.

  42. Blog Book Club Contest Winners!

    Hi everyone, the comments were so great and this discussion has been so interesting that I couldn’t draw just one winner so we have two! I asked my older sons to each draw a number and Jake picked:

    #39 Kim Gilbert

    and son Ty drew #46 Carolyn in Utah. You both have won a copy of Easy On The Eyes.

    Carolyn and Kim, please send me a private email with your address and we’ll get those out in the mail.

    Thanks to everyone for discussing the novel and let’s have another great conversation this week!

    Yours,

    Jane
    http://www.janeporter.com

Leave a Comment

Your email is never published or shared.

*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By posting a comment, you consent to have your personally identifiable information collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy.