Guest posting on Mommy Hot Spot today. Discussing a few of my favorite topics: social media (and how people react to it), parenting, and booger eating (yes, I said it!)
Read the post here or see below.
Lately I have seen a very unfortunate trend with my Mom friends. I’ve heard it at parties, seen it on Facebook, and even discussed it at book club. Moms are mad, frustrated and upset. And who is this rage directed at?
Mom Bloggers. Or Moggers as my friend likes to call them. People like me.
Apparently women are ticked at the perfect way Mommy bloggers are portraying their lives, and it’s too much pressure to live up to on a daily basis.
“No one’s cupcakes come out that way,” screamed my friend the day she lived out a Pinterest-fail of tie-dyed cupcakes for her daughter’s 7th birthday party. I actually thought they came out pretty good, but clearly not as perfect as the picture she showed me on her iPad.
Another friend vehemently exclaimed the other day: “It’s not like parenting three kids isn’t hard enough, but now all these ‘perfect’ Mom bloggers are out there talking about organic food, no screen time until they turn eighteen, keeping your kids in car seats backwards until they’re nine…enough is enough!”
I get it. I really do. I am one of those moms that is creatively challenged. My youngest out-paced me in the craft world at four years old when she took the glue gun out of my hands to put the feathers on the turkey we were creating for Thanksgiving. I would rather stick pins in my eyes than spend a day scrapbooking, crafting or baking cakes that involve words like fondant. If I judged what kind of mother I was based on this, I would get a big fat F.
And sometimes when I read about the food a blogger creates from scratch every day to feed her nine children or the organic garden a New York City mom cultivated on the roof of her apartment, I feel pangs of guilt for the cheez-its I sent in for group snack (although they did have letters imprinted on them, you know, to make the kids smarter).
But a few years ago, I had a life-changing experience. I met a mom through my daughters’ My Gym classes. She also had twins, but that was where our similarities stopped. She had lost all of her baby weight, had no muffin top, and was constantly pulled together. She had her own successful business she started while breastfeeding her twins for 14 months and teaching them sign language. Because their father was from Montreal, they were already speaking two languages and had travelled extensively by the tender age of three. No joke.
Despite the fact that this mom made me feel like an utter failure, she was very friendly, so we decided to hit the local Chick-fil-A for lunch after class one day. As we chatted while the kids were eating, I looked over at her son who continuously picked his nose, and yes, ate it. Her daughter had a meltdown of epic proportions because she had white milk instead of chocolate. They had to leave early because her son threw his shoe at the back of a stranger’s head. It was not pretty, and she was mortified.
Apparently perfect hair does not make you immune to booger-eating. Because I had lived this scenario myself (several times), I was relieved to see this mom also succumbed to the same issues that I had with my kids. Although the image she projected publicly was much different, at the end of the day, she was as frazzled as I was.
It is no different in the blogging world. As bloggers, we project the image we want our readers to see. We carefully choose our words, images and topics that we think our readers will embrace. And although there are the mommy bloggers that believe honesty in parenting is what they want to portray, most of these women are building a brand, and that brand is their carefully-crafted persona.
While it may be hard to believe, most of the moms writing blogs are not doing it to make other moms feel bad; but let’s be honest: how many of you would attempt to try a recipe if the cake looked lopsided? I always equate blogging (and in some cases social media) to publishing your own magazine — an opportunity to share what you are passionate about whether it is clean eating, fitness, crafts, make-up, decorating, or just your kids. They are trying to put their best foot forward to their audience, just as they would showcase their best products in their storefront.
I believe the rage against the mommy bloggers, Pinterest-ers, and perfect Facebook posters is symbolic of what has always been going since the dawn of mommy-hood. So many of us strive for perfection and use other parents as a benchmark for our own self-worth. When we look at others though the lens of resentment, there is no way we can support each other or encourage our kids to treat each other compassionately.
There is no way to parent perfectly, and having a child absolutely guarantees you will be imperfect. It doesn’t matter how many perfect cakes you bake, marathons you run, or crafts you create, your kid still may eat his own booger in front of somebody else.
What can you do to sublimate your rage? Instead of feeling guilt and resentment when going on social media, digest the information and decide what you want to do with it. You may want to embrace having your own chickens for free range eggs or you may go back to buying your egg McMuffin.
Because while some bloggers do try to shame us into thinking that their way is the only way — using fear and judgement — we often forget that we, as readers, have the power in these situations. Bloggers are only as successful as their followers make them. Trust me, I know.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I think we all need to remind ourselves of this as parents in today’s digital age.
Or you can just start your own blog…
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.
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?
I have a daughter with a gigantic heart. Her mouth seems to be equally as big.
I recently received a text from another mom asking me where I bought my daughter’s Bento box lunch containers. Well, I’ve proudly accumulated quite a stash, so instead of trying to describe them to her over text to figure out what she was referring to, I just gave her a quick call.
After a few seconds of small talk, the mom informed me that my daughter told her daughter that she wasn’t allowed to have Lunchables because they weren’t good for her. The mom said that her daughter no longer wanted to eat said Lunchables, so she was going to try and prepare the “Lunchables-like” lunches that I had been preparing for my kid.
I was embarrassed for what my daughter said, so I stumbled through my standard explanation about what I made for my kids each day, and that I had no problem with Lunchables whatsoever — I just made a decision awhile back not to send them with my kids.
Now let me be clear. This mom has been nothing but nice to my daughter and I. She didn’t sound that upset over the phone until, after explaining the different types of lunches I prepare (and I promise you they are not that elaborate), she uttered the words: “I just don’t have time to make this kind of lunch every day. Do you work?” Yes, the word “work” sounded like it was in itallics.
Then it got awkward. I tried to explain to her that food was just my thing. I love to cook and awhile back one of my daughters had some health challenges so I decided to try to eat as healthy as possible, as often as possible. I even used my best self-deprecating humor to quash the sense that I was judging her, assuring that in no way would I win the Mother of the Year award for some of my parenting tactics. I even told her the story of how we ate noodles for three meals straight before we moved.
Now truth be told, I am a “bit” fanatical about my kids nutrition. In fact, my own mother calls me the Food Nazi. But I have my reasons. I have had a lifetime struggle with my weight and I do not want to project any of that on to my girls, so I’ve been trying to exemplify good food choices around them since their early years. Additionally, one of my daughters has a slight neurological condition, so I have tried to reduce the amount of chemicals and preservatives to give her the best shot at a healthy life. And I’ve had friends who have gotten cancer, and we just don’t know why or from what.
That being said, I have a special place in my heart for McDonald’s french fries, eat take-out Pizza most Friday’s, and we frequent Subway on a busy week night. And I never restrict what my kids eat at other people’s houses (within reason.)
After we got off the phone, I began thinking about our conversation. Clearly she felt I was judging her for eating Lunchables, and I felt judged for making a healthy meal for my kids. Did I seriously need to send my kid with a Lunchables pak to show that I had a busy life too?
This is something that we see far too often. The “Mommy Wars” are in full swing, and no one is safe. If you try too hard, you are disliked for making others look bad. Just look at the backlash against Pinterest. If you are just trying to get through the day and make choices based on efficiency, you don’t care enough about your kids.
How does it end?
I can honestly say that if I’m going to judge you, it won’t be over a few slices of Oscar Mayer ham and an oreo cookie. I reserve my judgement for things like whether or not you have seen the movie Pitch Perfect or how many Real Housewives of New Jersey you can name. You know, the important things in life.
And if you’re going to judge me for trying to do something good for my kids, well, we were probably never going to share a glass of wine anyways (well, at least not a good bottle of wine.)
Never one to like an awkward ending though, I decided to wave the white flag. I texted the mom a few days later letting her know Target had BPA-free containers on sale.
Her text back: “What’s BPA?”
Whoops. Apparently I know where my daughter gets it from.