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.
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.