It’s officially one week ’til we’re back at school around here, and we’re in full tilt Preparation Mode, man.
School Supplies? Check.
New Shoes? Check.
Hole-less Jeans? Check.
Adorable First-Day-of-School Picture Signs? Of course!
Homework Stations Built? You bet!
Back-to-School Countdown Crafts? Have been ready for weeks!
Apple Plates on the table, Decoupaged Mason Jar Pencil Holders on the desk, and Ruler Wreath ready for the front door? I wouldn’t have it any other way!
And the list goes on and on and on…
… except nearly all of that’s a lie because I’ve only done one of those things. I ordered school supplies online in an oh-crap-the-stores-are-probably-sold-out-and-now-this-will-take-me-hours-and-days-to-hunt-it-all-down moment, and, to be clear, we got the plain pencils and the cheap paper, and the only thing – the only thing – I let my kids pick were the colors for their bottom-pocket folders. They were genuinely thrilled at folder-picking, though, which tells you something about how low we set expectations in these parts.
Extremely low is where our expectations land.
Because, honestly? If my kids arrive at school dressed and semi-on-time, I consider it a win. Hair brushing happens occasionally on school mornings. Teeth brushing is a bedtime-only activity. Jam is usually present on 7-year-old faces as they walk into their classroom. And we often fudge on what, exactly, “semi-on-time” means. Five minutes late? Ten? Twenty but with a really good excuse? SEMI-ON-TIME!
Right now, everyone in this house has shoes that are mostly OK and they’ve all got one pair of pants with no holes. I think. I don’t really know. Mostly, we’ve been wearing undies (not always) and jammy pants and swimsuits for months, but theoretically we’ve got holeless pants, and theory is all I need to justify not buying more.
Back-to-school, in other words? Can bite me. I’ve done what I’m going to do, and I will do no more.
But I’ve been troubled lately about a trend I see developing online, and I’m afraid sometimes I’m a contributor, so I wanted to take a minute to pause and talk about all those Pinterest Moms out there who are, undoubtedly, in full-on, adorable, back-to-school mode.
You know the ones, right? They’re mamas who make heart-shaped bacon for Valentine’s Day? The ones who tape balloons outside their kids’ bedrooms while the kids sleep so they’ll awaken to discover a Balloon Avalanche when they emerge on their birthdays? The ones who hand stamp thank you cards and actually send them with personal, hand-written notes, sometimes for no good reason at all except they’re grateful and say so with words? The ones who make every teeny, tiny holiday into a GIANT EVENT with banners and table scapes and party favors? The ones who, technically speaking, make the rest of us look like lazy slugs who don’t have our crap together?
Yeah, well. Here’s the thing about those moms: many of them are doing all that because… wait for it… it makes them happy.
Or in the case of my sister-in-law, who does every one of the things listed above, she does them because they bring emotional healing; my nephew, you see, is medically fragile and can’t leave the house without risking his life, and so each of those crafty projects right down to the heart-shaped bacon is a celebration of life. A way to express love. A choice to make being house-bound fun. And an example to her kids that there is joy to be found in the little things.
And I know what you’re thinking; it’s even worse than we thought! Because it turns out, those moms aren’t Pinteresting at us. They’re not doing it to be better than us. They’re not, in fact, thinking about us at all when they craft. They’re just doing what’s fun and silly and pretty and, in some cases, deeply meaningful and actually important for themselves and their families.
Or as my friend Meghan put it, “Pinterest is a fascinating example of how we project our own insecurities onto other people as their problem.”
Which pffttt. And ugh. And blerg. And pffttt again. Because that is so true. And also not at all how I want to be… or the example I want to set for my kids.
I keep seeing articles online becoming more and more popular that put down, belittle or shame our fellow mamas for creating beautiful things. Some of the criticism is subtle, some of it’s not. The truth is, the Pinteresty ones among us are taking it in the teeth these days, momrades. Told they’re setting the bar too high. Told to stop it on behalf of the rest of us. Told they’re Pinteresting and crafting and creating at us.
We can do better than that, though. We can be better than that. Part of stopping the Mommy Wars is to quit picking sides and to start celebrating each of us, not despite our differences, but because of them. To honor our diversity. To quit the field of comparison. To choose to be confident in the people we are and throw away our measuring sticks, because measuring sticks are liars. They never measure our worth correctly; not ever.
The truth is, I’m tired of playing the Us against Them game – just really, really tired of it – and I long for us to be All for One and One for All.
We are a community, after all. Or, as I like to think of us, a Come, Unity; in the act of bringing unity to each other, even if we’re not quite there yet. In process. On our way.
So, perhaps, as we get ready for this school year, we can lay down our weapons. Both the weapons we use against each other and, especially, the weapons we use against ourselves. Perhaps it’s time, this new school year, for a New Year’s resolution:
All for One and One for All.
And Momrades, Unite.
Sending you all love, even you crazy Pinteresty ones,