Monday, October 28, 2013

On Party Planning, Pinterest, and Being a Good Mom

'Tis the season for birthday party planning and Halloween costume making.  It's also the season for many of my fellow moms to feel guilty because they didn't make a Halloween costume or plan a themed party for their kids.  And it's the season for me to feel guilty because I did do those things.

Several people have made comments like this to me recently while talking about Audrey's birthday party (and similar comments are made pretty much every year around birthday party time):
 "Oh, you are so creative. You throw such great parties.  You are such a good mom!"
"I just buy store bought invitations and cake for my kids' birthdays.  I'm a bad mom."

And when I hear these types of comments, I just want to cry and scream and laugh.  Because they couldn't be farther from the truth!  Being creative and planning parties and making cakes and invitations does NOT equal being a good mom.  I'm pretty sure that you can be the most creative and best party planner in the world and still be a bad mom.

Yes, I plan big elaborate parties because I want to create good memories for my kids.  But there are a thousand other ways that I could create those memories and show my kids I love them.  I throw parties mainly because it is fun for me.  It's really a selfish motivation, and I try to always be quick to admit that.  Right now, these types of parties are fun for my kids too, so it is a win-win for all of us.  If the day comes when my kids don't like parties any more, we won't do them.

There is much talk around the internet these days about "mommy wars."  I've seen it with my own real life friends as well.  Many moms are caught up in a war of comparison with each other, leaving everyone feeling guilty and frustrated because they are not as good of a mom as everyone else.  Or at least not as good as everyone else APPEARS to be. These are moms who are filled with guilt every time they get on Facebook or Pinterest, because they do not plan elaborate parties like everyone else.  Or because they don't make crafts with their kids.  Or because their house is not clean and organized.  Or because they served Kraft mac n cheese for dinner, again.  As if simply doing all of those things would make them a good mom.

For me, when I talk to friends or read comments from moms who feel guilty because they are not up to Pinterest standards, then I start to feel guilty.  Because I do like Pinterest.  I like making crafts, and I like throwing fancy parties.  I like to cook homemade food on occasion.  And sometimes (but only sometimes) I like to have a clean, organized house.  When I hear that this makes other people feel bad or less worthy, then I feel guilty for causing anyone to feel this way.  I've even contemplated not posting pictures on Facebook or other social media, in order not to make any other mom feel guilty or less worthy. I hate the idea that I could give the appearance that I think I am a good mom because I do those things.  I just like to do them; it has very little to do with being a mom.  I'm pretty sure I would do many of the same things even if I wasn't a mom.

Here is the truth about me:  being a mom is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I feel like a failure. Every. Single. Day.  I yell at my kids.  I sometimes pay more attention to my phone and my computer than to my girls.  I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to discipline.  I am completely insecure about my parenting ability and uncertain that I will ever be a "good" mom, whatever that may mean. 

However, there are two things of which I am fairly certain.  One, being a good mom is not equal to being a Pinterest mom.  I am quite positive of that fact.  Please, please, please to all my fellow moms:  believe it!!

Second, I know is that every mom is different.  Every mom has their own abilities and interests, and no two moms are going to be alike.  So why are we all trying so hard to be like each other?  You shouldn't feel guilty because you don't make crafts or plan parties for your kids.  And I shouldn't feel guilty because I do make crafts and plan parties for my kids.  You do what you like, and I will do what I like, and maybe we can help each other figure out this tricky business of raising human beings!!


Jan said...

Well said, Emily! Here's what I have learned.... Kids need moms who are who they are as people; moms who can show their children how to be people who are true to themselves. Worrying about what other people think, second guessing their worth as a parent-as a person, trying to keep up with or even outdoing what the mom next door is doing is a waste of time. Kids just want you to be with them, no matter what you are doing. There is no perfect parent. There is no perfect child. Live with love in the house, make memories - take a walk, pick up leaves, watch clouds, read books, sit by the fire and tell stories.... give lots of hugs and kisses and smile. alot.

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