I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how Pinterest can be really useful, and also how it can be just another brick in the backpack full of guilt that moms carry around. I read a great column yesterday by another blogger and thought it was just along the same lines of what I’d been pondering. As Tiffany writes, “I have this real and palpable fear that on my deathbed, surrounded by my children, they will say something like this: ‘Yeah, you were a pretty good mom, but you never, you know, made us apple snacks in the shape of ladybugs.’” Isn’t THAT the truth!
Because as any Pinterest user knows, here’s the breakdown on boards: 25% of pins are recipes, 25% home decor, 15% crafts, 15% exercise and diet tips, 10% jokes and inspirational quotes, and 10% everything else. And the recipes and home decor ideas have their own breakdowns: recipes are maybe a quarter cutesy kid-oriented, as are the home decor and crafts. Recipes show these darling cupcakes and unbreakable kid plates festooned with hot dogs and spaghetti noodles or vegetables or fruits cut and meticulously fashioned into animal shapes.
And kids’ rooms? They’re filled with professionally painted wall scenes, organized and clever bunk-bed arrangements, or fairy-tale canopies and related frou-frou. Pinterest is now the haven for moms gone wild decorating and cooking fantastical items for their adored little ones, who have endless ideas for educational and fun projects they do with their preschoolers. I’m guessing they sleep three hours a night, don’t work outside of the home, and focus all their time and energies on their kids.
Sixteen years into this parenting gig, I have mostly made peace with the fact that I can only do so much for my kids and everyone else. I have to sleep; I have to write; I have to take some quiet time for myself. I definitely need to take time to be with my husband. Alone. I decided I wouldn’t put my girls into lots of lessons and keep them busy all the time; I wanted them to have plenty of free-play time to just imagine and create on their own. Since I love to read, I did take the time (and still do) to read to them. Since I like to cook and bake, and since I want all of us to be healthy and use our food budget wisely, I make almost all the meals we eat. We don’t do much take-out or restaurant eating (maybe a couple of times a month). I don’t tend to make the kids a fancy breakfast most school days, but I do make something nice on weekends and maybe throw some muffins in the oven on an evening for breakfast the next day (because I’m not baking at 6 a.m.).
What I don’t do are these time-consuming jobs: home decorating. To me, function comes before form, and almost everything (except the pictures of the family on the walls) is useful in some way. Shelves hold toys and books. I don’t decorate for every holiday; I don’t, for instance, go all-out for Easter or Halloween, including a candy-corn-shaped nightlight (for instance, which I have seen) as part of the hundreds of orange/black or faux-scary decorations in October. I don’t do a lot of crafts. I do sew maybe a couple of times a year when I get the urge or when one of the girls needs something in particular for school or something else. I typically make skirts or dresses. The sewing machine otherwise sits quietly in its closet, awaiting my next yearly burst of sewing energy. Particularly, I don’t combine the two by crafting cutesy decorations, particularly not for transient seasons. I am not going to take the time to swap out dozens of decorations every month. Nope.
And yes, I like to cook, but I am not going to spend any extra time making the food look kid-friendly. I never even called broccoli trees. The girls love it, but I didn’t have to give it a cute name so they would eat it. It keeps me busy enough making weekly dinners and then breakfasts and lunches during weekends or school breaks. I can’t imagine doing any more prep or finishing work. It exhausts me thinking about it.
I’ve been able to largely be satisfied with my strengths and be OK with not doing all the other stuff over the years. I’d visit friends occasionally and be impressed with their decorations or cute kid bedrooms, but it was easy to brush aside feeling inferior because those were brief forays outside of my own good-enough child-rearing sphere. But then Pinterest came along, and it reminds every single mom out there that pins just how much we’re not doing. Well, now I have to steel myself against feeling inferior every time I get on Pinterest to look for recipes or great ways to get out stains (or the occasional really good laugh). I think I should just put a permanent pin up on the corner of Pinterest that tells me, “Being a good mom doesn’t make crafts mandatory” or any other reminders of reality.
Yes, Pinterest has its usefulness and a place in my life. But I refuse to let it make me feel bad. It’s just another time for me to go to my happy place and chant “I am a good mom, I am a good mom” until I stop looking at boards for the day.