There were so many things I looked forward to when I was pregnant with my first son. I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I daydreamed about making cute personalized items for him more than I wondered what he would look like. In fact, one of the ways I passed the time breastfeeding was designing his birth announcement, family stationery, and even play date cards. But even before Pinterest, I have always loved baking, designing, party-throwing, and crafting.
I blame Pinterest and social media for the pressure it has put on moms as a whole to send home-baked cupcakes to every class party or to create original, witty Teacher Appreciation gifts every May. However, the hard part for me is being a mom who LOVES to do those sorts of things in a sea of moms who are trying to escape that pressure.
And what do we do when we decide to distance ourselves from unnecessary stress in our life? We devalue it.
I truly believe moms mean well and try to encourage other moms when they say, “No kid is going to realize the cookies came from the store. Save your energy.” Or “Why throw him a big party when he isn’t even going to remember it? Save your money.” But I don’t think moms realize that when they say these things, some of us just nod along, offering up what they can during the conversation without really speaking up.
But on the inside, we feel guilty for every bottle of paint, sprinkle, and personalized label that we spent time with. We wonder if we are adding to the problem of all this pressure by just doing the things we enjoy doing. We wonder if we are hurting our kids by getting excited about throwing big parties or making fun gifts for teachers. We wonder if we are doing something wrong in this world of motherhood.
During my son’s first week in Kindergarten, he brought home a snack calendar. I immediately got excited thinking about all the fun snacks I wanted to make and send with him to school. But then I paused as a cloud of guilt and insecurity formed as I thought:
Will I seem like THAT mom? Will the other moms make fun of me? Will they feel like they have to make homemade snacks now? Will I be labelled as a “Pinterest mom” who cares too much about silly things like snacks and making them cute?
These types of thoughts swarm my head constantly.
The funny thing is that those questions in my head probably came to fruition. But that’s OK. After spending too much time navigating my way through the constant guilt-ridden chatter in my head, I decided to just own it and let my overeager flag fly.
Letting Go of the Guilt
We get it – we are a strange breed to most.
It does not make sense to a sane person, but we LOVE the details. We find complete satisfaction in the fruits of our labor, even if that means staying up until midnight decorating our son’s birthday cake. We don’t feel the same pressure other moms do. We are wired to make. We thrive in creativity. We crave an artistic outlet of any kind.
That’s why there is nothing to feel guilty about. This is who we are. Everyone knows that it doesn’t make you less of a mom if you order your child’s Halloween costume off Amazon. But it also doesn’t make you a crazy, over-the-top mom if you enjoy spending your October nights with a sewing machine, creating whatever costume your child has dreamed up.
Let go of the need to downplay what you enjoy doing just because you feel a little guilty about all the time and energy you are putting into something that you could buy. Let go of the guilt you hold onto worrying that by posting your family’s Halloween costume, it will perpetuate this comparison cycle. Enjoy being you in this short season of homemade Halloweens, and let the rest go.
I think the key in all of this is figuring out what drains you and what gives you life–and then doing just that without devaluing what someone else enjoys.
For example, while I find so much joy in most homemade things, I just cannot handle making my son’s school lunches every day. I’ve tried in the past, but I would end up sending an energy bar and an apple. I quickly realized that while I WISH I could muster up the energy and desire to make fresh lunches 5 days a week, I am not wired for it. It drains me completely. So as a result, I am team school lunch all the way. I so admire the bento lunches that I see, and I know it gives some moms a sense of joy as they close that box and place it in their child’s backpack.
The freeing part is not comparing myself to those moms because I know I am not cut from that cloth. I enjoy spending my creativity and energy in other ways. We are all wired so differently, and that’s a good thing!
So while we are slowly learning what we can let go of in life and want to scream it from the rooftops, somewhere there is a creative new mom with bright eyes armed with a glue gun and a Circuit.
She will soon learn a balance of healthy that works for her. And I would hate to squelch her spirit before she had the chance to see how fulfilling it truly can be when she is able to turn her creativity loose – even if it’s just in the form of a homemade birthday banner or a healthy-balanced bento box.