You don’t have to be perfect, the internet cries. Stop being so competitive, they say. End the Mommy Wars. Just say no to Pinterest… You can’t throw a no-bake energy bite very far on the internet without hearing the cries to end inter-parent competitiveness. And I could not agree more. As parents we should embrace good enough. We need to lay off the judgement of other families and their choices and stop being so hard on each other and on ourselves.
But here’s the deal – sometimes I like to make shit and that doesn’t mean that I’m trying to be perfect, overachieving, and generally make life difficult for every other parent.
There seems to be an assumption that mothers are overachieving by doing anything handmade or homemade, and that they are doing it out of a quest to be the best or to be perfect. They seem to be the scapegoat of every anti-Pinterest rant as if these mothers alone are solely responsible for how hard modern parenting is these days.
I’d like to speak up for those mothers, because in my own experience, that is not the case at all. I love to cook. I have an eye for design, a mind for organization, and I won’t pass up an opportunity to declutter. I like fashion, hair and make-up – always have. And I love me a solid party theme.
I’ve made homemade Valentines, Halloween costumes and organic healthy meals with great joy. I put mascara on every day. Because that is who I am.
There are plenty of things I’m not doing. I don’t take pictures or scrapbook. I don’t bake. I don’t volunteer at school. I don’t clean my toilets that often. I don’t sign my kids up for extracurricular activities.
But when I do decide to make an Egyptian themed birthday cake with graham cracker crumbs for desert sand, I don’t do it to make you feel bad about yourself or so that I can look better than you or so that I can make your children writhe with envy.
I’m not sitting on a superior throne holding up the bar of perfection looking down on you and judging your store bought bake sale item or pot luck contribution.
In fact when you ask me, “You made that?” with that accusatory tone in your voice, you should know that makes me feel like crap.
I don’t do it to be perfect or to make you feel bad.
I don’t even do it for my kids.
I do it for me.
I can see how that might seem sad to you that I have to latch on to these projects. But I have my reasons.
In all of the drudgery and monotony of being a parent, sometimes I just want to do something that I love, that brings me joy, a glimmer of creative expression.
If that is through a birthday cake or a new eyeliner or a labeling system, I’ll take it. Because that is who I am.
Are my energies misplaced? That’s really not for you to say.
I’m not trying to put pressure on you to be the perfect parent any more than I’m trying to get a spread in Martha Stewart Living. I’m just looking for a little bit of myself – the things that light me up – in a world that is not my own anymore.
I don’t do it because I claim to love my kids more or because I am striving for perfection, but because I will grasp on to anything that makes raising kids a little bit easier by bringing me closer to who I really am.
You have no idea what that thing might be. Chances are that it will make no sense to you at all. I’ve sacrificed so much in my role as a parent. Do I have to also give up the things that I’m good at? That make me who I am? Because it makes you feel bad?
The problem is not Pinterest. The problem is not mothers that use Pinterest. The problem is not homemade vs. store-bought or fresh vs. frozen.
The problem is that we’re lost. So much of ourselves is wrapped up in our identities as mothers that we don’t know who we are anymore. We’re all stumbling through it, groping around for the formula that makes the most sense for us.
The only way to get un-lost is to be as true as you can be to yourself, even if that means Bento box creations that result in nasty looks and online rants from other moms.
When I find myself jumping on the bandwagon rolling my eyes and saying, “That is so dumb – why would anyone waste their time with that?” I have to remind myself that it’s not my place to say.
Because sometimes I like to make shit, too.
Related post: Why I Won’t Stop Sharing Happy Pictures on The Internet