Mom-guilt. It’s everywhere. You feel it. I feel it. It’s a pretty big topic all over the internet these days. People are talking about how social media and sites like Pinterest are great and everything, but can heap more guilt upon a lot of moms’ already guilt-laden plates. Here’s what I think is a big part of the problem: some people use sites like Pinterest and Facebook to brag their faces off. I mean, I get it. We all want to look good. We all seek the approval of others. It’s human nature. But guess what? While we’re all super happy for you that your life is going well, we don’t need to hear about how great you are at everything. Your detailed descriptions of how much housework you got done using homemade pinecone-infused soap or whatever, and your handy tips on how I too can create delightful little desserts out of buttercup floss and fairy dreams are not helping anyone.
I’m not saying you can’t brag on Facebook sometimes. That’s totally fine and we all do it. But can we take it down a notch? And can we stop with the ridiculously perfect Pinterest crap? We only get one life. One life with which to love and grow and work and create. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend mine trying to shape it into something that it’s not. I want to enjoy meaningful experiences with my kids, and I know for sure that trying to force them to have a perfect experience that I can photograph for Facebook is not meaningful. And while I want to live the best life I can, and it’s good to have goals to work toward and a desire to improve, I also want to make sure to appreciate the bounty that I already have in my life, not be constantly looking for ways to make everything better.
I don’t want to sound like I hate social media or anything, because I absolutely don’t. Nor do I think that the Internet is completely to blame for my mom-guilt or that of anyone else. We choose to let society and friends and culture influence us, and the smart thing to do is to make the choices that are best for us and our families without worrying about any of those other influences. Even with a good head on your shoulders and the best of intentions though, sometimes the illusion of having, doing, or being everything, and having/doing/being it well can make us moms feel kind of inadequate.
Well kids, I’m here today to make you feel better about yourself, to let you know that you’re not alone in your imperfection or feelings of guilt. I would like to offer an antidote to all the intimidating pressures of perfection out there. I present to you this list, an anti-brag list, if you will. It’s in countdown style so you know the level of importance I give to each of these things and therefore the corresponding amount of guilt I have about sucking at them.
Six Mom-type Things that I Totally Suck At:
6. Scrapbooking. You guys. I have never made a scrapbook in my life, even though if I’m being totally honest, I would love to have a scrapbook. I also didn’t make baby books for any of my babies. Like a lot of people, I have tons of pictures of the memorable events of my life and about a million and twelve pictures of my kids – on computers. We’ve printed out a few to put in frames, but scrapbooking? Who ON EARTH has time for that? Maybe I could squeeze it in between changing the fifth poopy diaper of the day and hauling the latest load of laundry from the girls’ rooms to the washer, but there are about a thousand things I’d rather do with my time.
5. Working out. Ugh. I don’t even want to go into it. I just suck at it. I know I’m supposed to be trying to get my figure back after having three kids or whatever, but my figure wasn’t really all that spectacular to begin with, so I don’t look back at pictures of my pre-baby self longingly or anything. I’m actually hoping to improve at this one though. It would probably be good for everyone if I did.
4. Being organized. I am so not a type-A kind of person. I don’t get excited about “decluttering my life” or any of that Martha Stewart-y kind of crap. My house is usually fairly tidy, but if you look in the basement/closets/anywhere you can’t see in a quick sweep of the house, there is chaos and disarray. It’s only going to get worse as the kids get older and start accumulating massive amounts of their own stuff, so I know I should get a handle on it sooner rather than later. But in my small moments of free time, I’d quite frankly rather blog. Or drink coffee on the porch. Or read a good book. You can call me a procrastinator if you want, and you’d be absolutely right, but let me remind you: we only get one life, people, one life. If being super organized brings you great joy, then GO FOR IT. Come on over to my place and go nuts.
3. Crafts. Blech. I guess this is kind of like scrapbooking, but I don’t care. I hate crafts. Every now and then I think I want to do one, and I save pasta sauce jars or bits of ribbon or something and then never do anything with them. Crafts make me squirmy and impatient because I’m so bad at them. Whatever I’ve tried to make in the past usually comes out looking pathetically goofy. Also I ABHOR sewing. Just thinking about sewing does something unhealthy to my blood pressure. So yeah. At least my family will never be forced to wear matching homemade Christmas outfits or anything.
2. Thank you notes. This one actually makes me feel kind of bad. I have a ton of very kind and generous friends and relatives who gave us so much – encouragement, help, food, gifts, money, etc. etc. etc. both when we were having the twins and when The Baby surprised us all and came six weeks early. I am so incredibly grateful for all of those people and their sweet, helpful generosity. But I never sent them thank you notes. I wrote a lot of them. Both times that we had babies. But I never finished the list and I never sent any out. So there’s also the fact that I wasted money on some really pretty little cards that no one got. I know this isn’t good. My life is crazy, but I should have made sure to finish those tasks. Many of those people probably read this blog, so you guys, I’m reallyreallyreally sorry if you felt offended, and I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you. But here’s the thing. (You knew there had to be a thing.) I don’t really care if someone sends me a thank you note or not. I usually read it quickly and then forget about it. I don’t save thank you notes. They get recycled almost instantly. I don’t sit at home after attending a baby shower holding my breath and wondering when the thank you note is going to come. If I’m going to be completely honest, I have to say that I think the practice of sending out hand-written thank you notes after a shower is out-dated and unnecessary. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a new mom who’s super busy doing all kinds of stuff, none of which is taking care of herself. We are not Jane Austen characters who spend a couple of hours at a desk in the Morning Room attending to our correspondence each day. If a governess wanted to whisk my kids away to the nursery so I could bang out some thank you notes before my session at the harpsichord, that would be great. Until then though, can we give it a rest?
1. Christmas Cards. Oh man. I would love to send out beautiful Christmas cards with a beautiful, professional photograph of my beautiful family every year. So far, I have epically failed at this. Since having kids, we haven’t sent out any Christmas cards, beautiful or otherwise. We have friends our age who always manage to send out the loveliest Christmas cards with tasteful photo collages of their adorable and well-dressed little families. Every year, I sigh wistfully, wishing we had done the same thing. It will happen. Just you wait. One of these Christmases, I’m going to make it happen. As of now though, it’s definitely something that I suck at.
So there you have it: my pile of suckitude. You’re welcome. Don’t let the illusion of internet perfection get you down. I’m sure lots of moms out there suck at this stuff too, even if they’d like you to think otherwise. Let’s just try to be as honest as we can with each other about what goes on in our heads and homes because that is the only way we’re going to kick the mom-guilt for good.
What do you suck at? Does it make you feel guilty? Do you think I’m a terrible person for my views on thank you notes (I’m sure plenty of you do)? Share your thoughts in the comments!