Isn’t it funny how we don’t get to choose the memories that will stick with us throughout the years? When I was pregnant, I had a serious craving for hot fries. I had barely gotten back to my car before I had cracked open the bag from the store and was instantly bombarded with nostalgia. I called my mom, “Remember when we used to go to the laundromat all the time and you let me have three quarters to buy something from the vending machine and then I would play Pac-Man?” She laughed, asked me how I remembered such a silly thing, and reminded me we only did that a few times even though it seemed like a recurring event to me. Now that I am a mom, I know that my Mom spent much of her time trying to figure out how to make our day better, find fun things to do with us, and make sure we always had the best she could offer—and what I remembered was eating hot fries at the laundromat.
My baby’s first birthday is in two days. I knew that we wouldn’t be able to have a big party because of the pandemic and I had come to terms with that. I spent some time on social media looking for ideas and inspiration to celebrate with our immediate family.
The longer I spent looking, the more self-conscious I started feeling about the celebration I had planned.
I don’t have a neutral shiplap wall to decorate and take photos against. We don’t have an entryway table accented by a West Elm mirror and perfectly curated seasonal decor. I have a wall with an outlet covered in duct tape because my baby figured out how to pull out the outlet covers. We got rid of our end tables because it was safer now that the baby is furniture cruising and they were replaced by a chunky toy box which has become the focal piece of our living room. Turns out, that toy box doesn’t actually hold any toys because the baby’s favorite game is removing all the toys from their holding places one by one and throwing them on the floor. As you walk through my small house, dodging the toys on the floor, you will enter my kitchen, which is always littered with bottles that need cleaning or a plate with leftover food from the baby’s last meal.
Flipping through social media, I questioned the gaudy decorations that I had purchased from the Dollar Tree and my plans for a homemade cake on paper plates.
Then I remembered eating hot fries at a dirty laundromat and was brought back to reality. No one ever said “life is a perfectly lighted photo where everyone is in perfectly matching but also not matching outfits and looking at the camera at the same time flashing their perfectly straightened whitened teeth in front of the shiplap wall and ring light.”
The phrase is “life is messy” for a reason.
He won’t remember the clutter I worried about. He won’t be upset that he ate frozen waffles two days in a row. He won’t remember the chaos and stress involved with making memories with a baby. He won’t question why he didn’t have professional cookies and a catered lunch at his party.
The memories my family will make and the ones my son will have will look a lot like the one in this picture. He will remember how present we were, how much fun he had, and how provided for he was. After I’m long gone, he will have a picture of me in giant shamrock earrings, a four-leaf clover crown, and a green sweatshirt that reads “Lucky Mama” holding him so tight he might pop and know how loved he is.
Life is messy and this mess is mine. Perfectly curated social feeds aren’t the scale you should use to determine how you measure up.