I have been reading the Nie Nie Dialogues for the past few months, after learning about mother of four, Stephanie Nielson, and the horrific plane crash she survived. Today, she appeared on Oprah with her husband to talk about all she has endured and how life can change in an instant.
Nie Nie is Mormon. She has four kids (she started her family in her early 20s) and is a stay at home mom. Much of her daily life revolves around being a devoted mother, wife, sister, daughter, cousin and aunt. I don’t really have much in common with her, but I find myself drawn to her blog with every post.
For starters, the photography is gorgeous. Her sense of style is spot on, from her clothes and accessories to home decorating and parties. Hand cut silhouettes of her children line a wall, an assortment of graphic modern throw pillow covers are commissioned to change up a room and special little details mark every celebration like back-to-school-crowns. Stephanie’s design esthetic is like Martha Stewart without the fussiness, Anthropologie without trying so hard to be vintage-y.
Today on Oprah, the show also featured Andrea, a mom from California who wrote in to say she hated staying home with her kids, was bored to tears and had no outlet for creativity. Oprah sent Andrea to spend a day with Stephanie, who almost didn’t live and suffers from painful burns as a result of the plane crash. Of course, Andrea felt like a jerk that she was complaining about her life when Stephanie struggles to open up Ziploc bags to make her kids’ lunches, has trouble lifting them, and takes 2 hours every day to shower and tend to her wounds. What’s more, Stephanie’s face will never look like it did before the accident and it took her kids a bit to adjust to their “new” mom. Stephanie’s life is hard.
Stephanie’s life is hard. But life is what you make of it. Stephanie doesn’t suffer from any lack of creativity, it is bursting through everything she touches. Her appreciation and adoration for her husband and kids is such an example for all of us.
So, Oprah, I think you missed the mark. Andrea doesn’t need to learn from the example of how hard life can be for a mom who has been in an accident. She, like me, might be better off going back and reading the Nie Nie Dialogues from the archives to the present, to see how a stay at home mom approaches homekeeping and mothering, finding joy and creativity in every day tasks and events. Stephanie is not an inspiration because she is a survivor. She is an inspiration because she is Stephanie.