I got married two months before I ever heard of Pinterest, but during the dawn of barn weddings. I remember it clearly, because the rage I felt upon discovering that there was a better way to plan my wedding than the stacks on stacks of folders filling up my browser bookmarks bar was white-hot. There were s’mores bars. There were homemade jam favors. There were floating paper lantern send-offs and the mason jars—all the goddamn mason jars, as far as the eye could see. It was beautiful and also kind of made my eye twitch.
As time went on, I pinned thousands and thousands of pins. My dream house was planned out, with several options for slides instead of stairs. There were enough dinner recipes to make sure I wouldn’t eat the same crockpot meal twice within a single presidential term. And with babies on the brain, all the meticulously decorated nurseries were making my uterus skip a beat.
Then I actually got pregnant. My little pretend-baby pin board was suddenly a reality, and in just nine months, I would have a beautiful little nursery to sit in while sleep-deprived and unshowered. As the morning sickness of my first trimester left me permanently on the floor next to my toilet (cleaned with a Pinterest-approved mixture of free-range vinegar and non-GMO Clorox, sprayed from a repurposed vintage perfume bottle), I was left with just the dreams of my perfect nursery—the theme of which changed about nine times throughout my second trimester. While bloated and angry and looking to settle the score in my third trimester, I sat in my rocking chair and barked orders at my husband about how far he needed to space the chevron stripes he was painting on the walls. My swollen fingers made fruitless attempts at crocheting little forest critter stuffed animals that were totally practical to hand over to a slobbering newborn.
The night before my induction, I sat in that rocker and worked furiously into the night, arranging and rearranging bookshelf vignettes. I turned down a nice last meal out with my husband at our favorite restaurant so I could stay home to embroider an organic cotton onesie to make sure our new baby would be Instagram-appropriate when we debuted him to my 73 followers. I went to bed fretting over the Dr. Seuss quote I hung on the wall. Did I choose the right one?
I don’t remember the next seven months because babies are hard and that shit is a blur, and it is also possible that I just plain blocked out some of it. But I’m pretty sure I never once opened my eyes wide enough to see more than a foggy outline of the nursery in that dark time. However, as my son grew older, and I returned to normal, everyday activities like putting on a bra or pooping with the door almost all the way shut sometimes, I returned to my old inspirational friend and began pinning to a board named “1st Birthday Party.”
My shit was finally kind of coming together, and I was going to use every ounce of energy I had to throw my baby the best birthday party he would not have the mental capacity to give a fart about. It would be themed-without-a-theme. Mostly, I was just looking at a picture of blurred city lights and my hipster-ass brain told my hands: Make me a party out of that. This DIY mommy would prepare healthy snacks for a carefully planned out tablescape with coordinating textiles and hand-lettered cards with punny names for every goddamn thing in the room. I’m pretty sure our mothers swung by Party City the morning of our own birthday parties and drowsily grabbed some noisemakers and a few bags of candy, and we were good to go as kids. But I was up until 3 a.m. the night before my son’s party, sewing a birthday crown, because the world is a different place now.
And that was enough to make me vow to never Pinterest again. I’m a full-grown adult who at the end of the day cannot muster up the energy it takes to floss. But because I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’m supposed to find the time to cram every lunch into a bento box and clean my dirty-ass house with some shitty smelling oils? Fuck right the fuck off with that bullshit. I will tell my kid to go watch something on Netflix while I Febreze my yoga pants before I wear them again today, instead of putting together a sensory box. That is a shoebox full of dried pasta and beans and nothing more, and you’re kidding yourself if you think I have the time to put it together and then vacuum its contents out of my home for the next eight months. I will order pizza for dinner because even if that 30-minute meal didn’t actually take 90 minutes to make, my pizza will still be here in 20. I will use store-bought detergent and household cleaners instead of making my own from blue Dawn and natural spring water from The Shire, because I prefer chemicals over fucking E. coli. And most of all, I’m not wasting my time doing stupid bullshit that exists for the sole purpose of one-upping other moms under the guise of super-parenting.
Upon meeting the other moms when my son started preschool, I swiftly informed them that when it was my turn to bring in a snack, I was throwing a cheese stick and some grapes at the kids and that would be the end of it. I will not be cutting the grapes, so teach your kid to fucking chew like a regular thing with teeth. And if I see one gluten-free fruit kabob made to look like Olaf, I will fight you, and you will lose. Do not bring that shit around my kid and make him suddenly expect things out of me, like homemade Goldfish crackers because how the fuck am I supposed to find a tiny fish cookie cutter that small?!
The next time my son had a birthday party, we hosted it at one of those indoor play places that is kind of like Chuck E. Cheese’s, but there aren’t any arcade games or bar fights. I went to bed at a reasonable hour the night before. The only thing I brought were cupcakes that I made from a box mix with rainbow-colored high fructose corn syrup on top. The kids all ate pizza and drank juice and ran around like they were at a tiny frat party. At the end, we didn’t clean shit. And my kid had a blast and I had leftover pizza, so everyone was happy. The only showboating I did was excitedly yell at every adult I encountered, “I bought the decorations at Target!”
And for all of this, I am a happier mother. Not giving a shit is my favorite. The bar is low, which makes it all the more easy for me to vault over it when I put on stretchy pants. My point isn’t to never do anything special or that requires effort for your kids. Just don’t do that crap every single day or else it is no longer special and you are too exhausted to enjoy any of it. So just fuck it. You can’t get caught up in the Mommy Wars if you leave the game to drink under the bleachers with the cool kids.