Valentine’s Day.

It reminds me of the Wild, Wild West, as it is the ultimate showdown for Moms. I often imagine two women on opposite sides of a tree-lined cul-de-sac, one holding pipe cleaners, construction paper and a smoking glue gun, the other holding the formidable Target credit card. The music from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is playing in the background.

Okay, that may be a little too dramatic, but it’s not that far off the mark.

Valentine’s Day seems to be the ultimate time when moms can prove what they are made of. Are you the mom that delivers the Pinterest-type container worthy of posting on Facebook, or are you the mom that can barely wrap paper around the shoe box? My husband described it as the woman equivalent to whose Johnson is bigger. I’m afraid he may be right.

Now, my kids never had a chance. I am seriously craft-challenged, and would rather stick pins in my eyes than spend all day creating a Valentine’s Day box.  If I judged what kind of mother I was based on this, I would get  a big fat F.

Fortunately, what I do know how to do is shop, and for $5 my kids got an entire kit to decorate their boxes, thanks to Tarjay. The instructions recommended wrapping a shoe box in white paper and then decorating it, but I did one better.  A silver Nordstrom box would make their box stand out, and I wouldn’t even need to worry about wrapping it.  It was genius and a huge success. My kids were able to complete their boxes almost entirely on their own, and they were pretty cute too.

One of three amazing Valentine's Day boxes put together by my children.

One of three amazing Valentine’s Day boxes put together by my children.

Apparently not all the moms felt that going to Target was the way to approach this project. The boxes started appearing on my Twitter and Facebook feeds about four days prior to Valentine’s Day, and this year they were cray cray.

Minions, crocodiles, handbags, iphones, hockey arenas, cakes and more.  I didn’t even know you could turn shoeboxes into some of this stuff and makes me feel like I’ve been underutilizing my stash sitting in my closet. There were carefully painted wooden boxes, perfectly coiffed plastic containers and I even saw one that was about three feet tall (I’m guessing that kid didn’t ride the bus that day!)

On the other side of the equation was the cult against the Valentine’s Day Box Craze. These rebel moms proudly stated that they reused a box from last year, had a kid decorate a box with stickers or my personal favorite, the mom whose son just wanted to cut a whole on the box his inline skates came in because the box was already “cool.”  I believe it had a very romantic skull and crossbones on it.

This great divide between the crafty moms and the ones that aren’t is probably the most ridiculous one we deal with on a regular basis. As the daughter of a crafty parent, I do feel pangs of guilt at times when I know that I do not have the patience or MacGyver-like skills to create a life-like dog out of cardboard, glitter and a single roll of twine.

But what if instead of resenting these moms, we instead just say “Great job!”  And meant it.

It seems like more is more in today’s culture. Things like the Elf on the Shelf, Easter egg decorating, and yes, even the age-old Valentine’s Day box are becoming more of a statement of how involved or dedicated you are as a parent as opposed to what it is supposed to be: a fun thing for the kids. We have all seen the science fair project that clearly an eight year old could not have put together, or the over the top craft project that little Susie did with “just a little help” from Mom.

Yes, I agree, quite often we do things in the name of our kids, as opposed to for them (see my post on Why I Support Wine at (My) Playgroups.)  But who cares? There are moms out there who neglect their kids, beat them, turn a blind eye to abuse or simply just don’t love them, and this is what we’re focused on?

Damn you Pinterest moms.  You’re just awful.

Maybe my kids are different, but they did not come home after their V-day parties telling me how awful their day was because they didn’t have an elaborate box made from scratch. I’ve never heard them say, “Mom, you suck. I wish we had spent hours making a Valentine’s Day box like Mary’s mom did. That’s really how I want to spend my time.”

Instead, they went through all their cards — the home-made ones and the character-based ones bought from the store — with the same appreciation.  They then told me about the other boxes they saw that day without an ounce of jealousy or disdain, even for the little boy who just got back from Disney the night before and — gasp — only had a white paper bag for his Valentines.

I have heard stories about kids who have loved the artistic process of Valentine’s Day box development, and also the horror stories of moms who stayed up all night to make sure their kid’s box was “just right.” They post these photos proudly, while other moms seethe with resentment, thinking they are showing everyone else up.

I say whether you are a regular on the Valentine’s Day box circuit, or you just had one triumphant craft experience, you pin, tweet, and post away.  You see, I don’t think you’re trying to make me feel bad about myself. I like to think that these moms just want to do something special for their kids. Maybe they can’t volunteer at school as much, or be at every game like I can.  Maybe they don’t like to read together as a family or get to cook meals together like I do.  Or maybe, just maybe, they like to do this stuff.

Pinterest moms make the world a more beautiful place. I believe their kids do feel special when they unveil Shrek, the Valentine’s Day Box Ogre. And that’s okay, because everyone should feel special sometimes. It’s our job as parents to find out how we can make our own kids feel that way, in our own way, and most importantly, learn to appreciate it when they do. It may not be with fancy Valentines, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it is.

Also, as a mom who volunteers a lot at school and other activities, I also have a special place for these moms in my heart, as they are often the ones painting scenery, sewing costumes or cooking amazing baked good for a sale.  I think it’s just what they do.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I think we all need to remind ourselves of this whenever we see another mom’s success, whether it is them running a marathon, baking gorgeous cup cakes, succeeding at their job, or even, just creating the perfect Valentine’s Day box.

Maybe they just want to feel special too.  And shouldn’t we all feel that way sometimes?


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