Home Girls

They may chronicle domestic bliss, but for housekeeping underachiever Sandra Tsing Loh, housewife blogs inspire mixed feelings.

I'm not a stellar housekeeper. Frankly, I spend a fair amount of time at home just coping, spending the odd Sunday afternoon playing online solitaire in bed with a Bloody Mary. My domestic life is not one I'm proud to share with the world on, say, a daily basis.

That's why I'm fascinated by—even obsessed with—all the frighteningly cheery housewife blogs. Have you seen them? They have names like The Glamorous Life of a Housewife, A Charmed Wife, and Living the Wifestyle. A typical description (under laughing photo of blogger) is: "I am a normal, busy, harried but happy housewife with a (gorgeous—wink!) lawyer husband and five adorable children. I am addicted to purses, hazelnut Frappuccinos, scrapbooking, and inventing gluten-free recipes for my family. Join me as we remodel our 2,000-square-foot kitchen!" Indeed, all too many times have I joined Sheryl or Rae or Melissa and obediently clicked through not just photos of her kitchen but of her children and gardens and dogs and, most important, herself doing all the domestic tasks she enjoys, from baking pies to washing sweaters to—I kid you not—storing cupcake liners. (storing cupcake liners?) Why on earth are so many women eager to share this stuff? It is like wanting to star in your own reality show and draw advertising from Boston Market. Perhaps these bloggers believe that they are actually being charming and that readers and advertisers will fall for their quirky personal foibles, as opposed to being shamed and getting hate mail. And they're right! I've seen ads from Minwax to Mucinex—and it's clear these busy bloggers get a ton of free stuff. Blog photo caption: "Pink Sugar creamy body lotion." Blog entry: "To die for! I keep a tube on my nightstand so I can smell pretty before bed." Rather than being turned off by such obvious product shilling, readers seem to love it. (Almost instantaneously, 73 commenters posted to try to win a free sample.) Even knowing this, I'm transfixed. I've seen a video on how to fold a fitted sheet that blew my mind.

Trolling the happy housewife, I find myself threading through dreamy Smell No Evil ads for a product sure to change my life called luxury pillow mist in scents like "Beachy" and "Sea Glass." I so wish my own pillows smelled like poetry. But my vulnerability goes deepest with posts like this one: "Every year before the holidays, I have made it my job to clean all of the votive candleholders in the house. I've always liked this job because it's a big mess/project/production and I get to experiment with different ways to remove candle wax."

Reading this, I experience a range of emotions, from pity to horror to out-and-out despair and envy because I lack the domestic contentment gene that is so very soothed and energized by such projects. Why do I drink vodka and fall down on a night when I could be scraping votive candles and creating exquisite table set- tings? This seems bitterly unfair to me on a cosmic level. It may sound like I am joking, but in a deep sense I am not. If I had this gene, I wouldn't be lying in bed on a Sunday afternoon with a computer headache but would be productive in my beautiful home abounding with fluffy towels, Quaker-style spoon rests, and hand-painted bird feeders.

But then I come across a DIY snowflake "craft project" (think hot-glue gun and Q-tips)—insane and hysterical. Never mind that I didn't melt shards of soap together to make new soap today; I had a good laugh. And I still have a chance to win that Pink Sugar body lotion. Hell, even catatonic in bed, why shouldn't I smell like the beach?