So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I’m an idealist. When I looked up the definition of idealist, this is what it said: a person who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations. Yep. Definitely an idealist. Especially when it comes to the things I want to do for my kids.

Enter Pinterest. 

When I first found Pinterest I instantly became obsessed. I had my whole house redecorated in my head, I used Dawn dish soap and hydrogen peroxide on everything, and I might as well have stock in the mason jar industry.

When my son was in the first grade I signed up to bring snacks to his Halloween party. Because I had Pinterest, I went to work right away on coming up with the best, most creative snacks that would be sure to impress. I came up with cutting apples into wedges, made to look like lips with almonds stuck in them to look like jagged teeth (definitely Google it). Great, right? I thought so…

So, I literally spent about two hours on party day, assembling this snack. I’m thrilled with the way they look. I mean, they really looked like scary mouths. I walk into the school with my little mouths on a platter, parading them through the hallway so that everyone could see how creative I was. I think one teacher saw and said, ‘how nice!’ Thanks, teacher, I did it myself! And look, they’re mouths…with teeth!

When I get to the classroom I ceremoniously place the platter down on the short table. We called the students over. This was it. This was my moment. I was going to be my son’s hero because I had made such a delicious, healthy, scary (but not too scary) looking snack. The students approached. At this point I’m humming the theme from “Rocky” in my head and already giving myself a mental trophy for “Snack of the Year” award.

But the thing is, kids – especially 7 year old boys – don’t care if your snacks are creative. They’re just hungry. They grab the things and eat them. 

“But wait! Didn’t you see the teeth? They’re like Dracula teeth!” I exclaim in my head. Okay, under my breath. And if I’m honest with myself, I’m feeling a little offended that these first graders didn’t instantly notice my snack time genius.

I mean, maybe I did it wrong. Maybe I should have added the marshmallow eyes or made it look more like something from Monsters, Inc.

I can’t say that was the end of my Pinterest days. I still love finding amazing recipes, activities for the kids, I can spat off 20 uses for epsom salt or apple cider vinegar like a boss, and none of those things are bad! But this story makes me think now about the kind of pressure we’re putting on ourselves to outperform…what? Ourselves? Each other? Who are we trying to impress? Because I don’t think our kids are really noticing.

Recently I was at lunch with a fellow mom who said, ‘You’re turning grapes into magical fairies and I’m over here just trying to get my kid to stop pooping his pants! I can’t keep up with the Pinterest snacks!’

I understand that many people have that crafty gene and it’s a relaxing outlet to create things for the sake of creating them and you are fulfilled just by the process. For that, I salute you.

For the rest of us, we try keep up with all of these things we think will somehow impress our kids or other moms or make us worthy in some way; whether it’s a Pinterest project or an elaborate birthday party, or in my case the snacks with the Dracula teeth, and we tell ourselves, “If I’m the coolest mom at the party, my kid will love me,” or, “If I do this one thing in this specific way, my kid will know I love him.”

Hey, I’m not beyond doing any these things. I love creating fun memories and making cool snacks and over-the-top, themed birthday parties, and would love to party with you on Pinterest.  And let’s face it, I love receiving compliments from the other moms about all of them (as I give myself a high-five).

But when we place our value as parents into these things, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Our kids don’t care about impressive snacks as much as they care about our presence. They care less about the time spent on a special gift than they care about the time we spend with them.

So, two words that I believe make every mother’s life easier: STORE. BOUGHT. Go get you some Twinkies and walk proud, girl.

Kristen Wheeler

Hey! I'm Kristen! I'm a wife, a mom of 2, and most days I'm a perfect storm of coffee and dry shampoo. I love perfection: All things bright and shiny and sweet and glorious; but life isn't perfect and neither are we, so we might as well grab a glass of wine and laugh about it. I believe in real life and that no two lives should look the same. I want to LAUGH in the face of that taunting voice that says, “not enough,” and tell it to shut up! I hope to make you laugh, make you cry (like, the good way), and help you realize that you are enough, you have enough, and you can impact the world around you. I'd love to be friends! Visit my website or follow me on social media!

Summer Goes by Too Fast

In: Kids
Boy lying on bench at park, color photo

To my oldest, As our summer vacation nears an end and we begin school supply shopping, I think about all the things we didn’t get to do together this summer. I instantly feel mom guilt. All the plans I had made? Only half of them done—if that. RELATED: Remember When Summer Lasted Forever? All the books I was going to read to you at bedtime? Only a couple short ones. All the creative art we would do? Maybe just one time. The fact is, I let time slip away from me. I was too focused and anxiety-ridden about work, my...

Keep Reading

Going on Family Vacation with Young Kids is Work That’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom with two young kids on airplane

Our routine will be a mess. Our toddler won’t sleep in a new environment. Our baby needs all of the gear. The flight could be a disaster. I went through a mental checklist of reasons why this kind of family vacation would be hard. It was a pretty convincing list if I’m being honest. I considered throwing a pity party dedicated to the concerns I shoulder as a mother. A few days later I felt a wave of conviction wash over me. I was dreading a trip that was meant to be a blessing to our family. Any kind of...

Keep Reading

I Want To Raise Good Sisters

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four girls sitting on a rock in the forest, color photo

My current dilemma: how to teach four little girls how to be good sisters when I have no idea what I’m doing? I was an only child growing up, and a tomboy at that. It was a lonely, quiet childhood. I remember wishing for a sister, but knowing that with my single mom, it wasn’t going to happen. So, the sister thing is a big mystery to me. I’ve noticed (admittedly with some envy) adult sisters together and their inside jokes, shared history, and language known only to each other. I’ve read about sisters in books. The relationships between the four...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Just Love You, I Like You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy standing at bridge, color photo

My growing child, my heart often aches when I look at how big you have gotten. You aren’t a baby anymore, you’re a whole kid. You are your own person, with your own thoughts and feelings. You have your own friendships, and interests.  Parts of me realize you don’t need me the same, but deep down I know you need me all the same. And I’m realizing, that in all of these changes, my love for you is also a like.  RELATED: Being Your Mom is the Greatest Honor of My Life Because now we can connect in a whole...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergartner, I’ll Always Remember You This Way

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child touch foreheads

The first magical flickers of your strong heartbeat on a black and white screen— the reassuring evidence I needed to know you were gaining strength for this world. My belly grew, and I proudly went shopping for maternity clothes to cover it. I felt the first dances of your little feet, and it reminded me of butterflies taking flight— the movement of a true miracle. I’ll always remember you this way. The sounds of your first cries—music ringing in my ears. You were real, Earth-side, and wanting only to be loved. The softness of your skin, the way you smelled,...

Keep Reading

Having the Tools To Parent a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder Changes Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child playing with water in tube

My heart leaped into my mouth as Soccer Mom, with her matching foldable chairs and ice-cold Gatorade, glared at me. I wanted to explain how hard I tried to be a good mom, to raise a kind human, but I swallowed the words so I could vomit them at my 5-year-old son on the ride home.   Didn’t he know that pushing another child was unacceptable? Hadn’t I taught him to use gentle hands?   RELATED: To the Special Needs Mom Who Sits Alone Despite implementing the parenting books that promised me a new kid by the week’s end, I often wondered...

Keep Reading

There’s No Instruction Manual for These Middle Years

In: Kids
Little girl smiling on porch

As a preschool teacher and a mom, I’ve always felt pretty confident in my parenting from ages birth to 5 years old.  I by no means am perfect, and I silently rejoiced the day my kids could pour their own cereal and turn on Netflix for themselves while I caught some extra sleep. Even though that’s probably not a proud mama moment to celebrate, it’s just the reality of parenting.  We both celebrate and mourn independence as our children need us less. And let’s be honest, oftentimes independence makes our daily lives easier. Yet it is bittersweet.  It feels like...

Keep Reading

I’m Halfway Through Raising Little Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two girls smiling outside

Today I stayed in my car a few minutes more than usual as my kids hopped out onto the hot driveway and ran inside. The cold air conditioning felt amazing after a long day at the local water park; so did the silence. Then it felt odd, so I turned on the radio. The song that started playing hit my soul: “Woah, we’re halfway there/Woah, livin’ on a prayer.” I’m always living on a prayer, but I also noticed we are halfway there. RELATED: Growing Up, You First Then Me Halfway through the year, more than halfway through summer, and...

Keep Reading

Kindergarten is the Start of Letting You Go

In: Kids, Motherhood

We’re physically ready for kindergarten. We’ve got the backpack, the school supplies, the school clothes, and the new shoes. We’ve talked about it all summer. We’ve practiced the skills he will need, and how to open everything inside of a cold lunch box. We’ve talked positively about it and imagined all the friends he will meet and the places he will go, and how kind and caring the teacher will be. We’re physically ready for kindergarten. But here’s a little secret . . . My heart? My heart can’t fully be ready for him to go to kindergarten. I know...

Keep Reading

The Truth about Puddle Jumpers and Toddler Drowning, From a Grieving Mom

In: Kids
Little boy in Puddle Jumper on waterslide

The very last video I have of my 3-year-old son, Levi, is of him bobbing up and down in a Puddle Jumper.  His little legs kicking underwater, his eyes the spitting image of his daddy, and his older sisters, his happy grin, and his little voice saying “Cheese!” This time-stamped video, counting down the precious minutes we had left until he would end up in this very same pool, less than two hours later.  But this time, it was without the Puddle Jumper. I understand the sense of panic building inside you to avoid my story or read it just...

Keep Reading