Monday, February 18, 2013

Traditions


When I write about traditions or favorite family activities, I do so with some trepidation, because I know that hearing about other people's lives can make me feel inadequate, and I wonder if it has the same effect on you. It's like when you're feeling pretty good about your life and then you go to a soccer cookout at someone's house. Suddenly your own house looks like shit. And then you start thinking about your life choices. Why couldn't you have chosen a career path with more earning potential? Then maybe you too would have a "Jack and Jill" bath with oil rubbed bronze fixtures.  English major? What the hell were you thinking? And your husband is glad you don't keep a sledgehammer in the house because at 10 on a Saturday night you might feel envious and motivated enough to start opening up some walls. Not that that's ever happened to me.

And then there are the Facebook posts, with all the love! and creativity! and by the end of  a holiday like Valentine's Day you're ready to slit your throat or that of your significant other. If you read one of my very first posts , about the dreaded Valentine's Day, you'll be glad that there was no Facebook when I started blogging. It might have pushed me right over the edge.

I'm glad I was raised in the 70's and 80's before social media, because I feel like the stakes have been raised so high to have amazing traditions and experiences and homes it just puts a HUGE burden on moms to make that magic happen. I know my own mom would not have fared too well in the age of  Pinterest, even though she was artistic and talented. She didn't care much about Halloween costumes ("go find a sheet-- you can be a ghost again"), she barely remembered to take pictures, and of course there was the time she gave me a PINEAPPLE to take to my teacher as a Christmas gift.

I can say with certainty The Elf on a Shelf would not have been welcome in our house,  because Mom seemed pretty relieved when the whole Santa facade crumbled. But the thing is, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know my mom was an incredible mother. Incredible. Some of our favorite traditions included seeing who could be the first person to stick his finger in a brand new jar of Peter Pan Peanut butter. Or regularly barricading ourselves in my brother's room and having tennis ball fights. These things took no money or planning, but they are what we remember more than 30 years later.

When I became a mom 14 years ago, I  had only Family Fun magazine to make me feel like I wasn't measuring up in the creative mom department. Now there are so many more ways for new moms to feel lame. Gender reveal parties! Birth announcements so amazing they make my wedding invitations look like crap! Infant photo shoots where the naked baby is put in a basket or placed on a shelf! So cute I could just die. They bear no resemblance to the pathetic  pictures of Jack being propped up on the tan shag photo platform at Sears by a haggard photographer with a smoker's cough.

I do like to share ideas and traditions on this blog. And I doubt anyone would look upon our current familial situation with envy. But I've noticed there are many ways to make ourselves feel bad, one of which could even be, "Look at what they did with their kids and it still all fell apart. I can't even (fill in the blank), so where does that leave me ?" Or am I the only one who has Negative Nelly self-talk, when I see mylife in light of others?

So, if I happen to share a sweet tradition later this week that Tim did with the kids, do you promise to go easy on yourself? I know I will.

89 comments:

Carol-Anne said...

Of all the posts I've ever read that you've written, (some so touching I couldn't see through the tears), this one has really touched me(and made me laugh)!

I always feel a bit sad that there were no blogs and such when my son was a baby, as I could have used the support from other moms....but I realize now, that it was probably for the best. Because I would certainly have 'lost' in the race to be the best mom.

Melanie said...

Please share your traditions. Comparison is evil, but inspiration is good. Sometimes I feel stuck in a rut and love a great creative insight from another mom.

I laughed when you wrote about the silly propped up pictures of Jack as a newborn. I have the same ones and used to wish we had some inspiration like pinterest so I would have known that newborns belong in washtubs with silly hats. But now I think about my kids' pictures as a kind of end of an era.

Marinka said...

Absolutely. We're not competing with each other, we're all doing the best we can. (Sometimes I slack off)

The Empress said...

Exactly. I see how many mothers do the job better than I do. I say to myself, "my kids would do better there." I dont know. Is it true what they pt up on blogs, on pinterest? Is it always so perfect at their homes?

xo

Ellen aka Ellie said...

All over the place comments:

Elf on the Shelf is just plain creepy--on so many levels.

All the parties and celebrations that appear on Pinterest are the reasons why weddings cost $100k for some. All the little celebrations have turned into BIG celebrations, so by the time a wedding happens, money must be spent.

In a way, Pinterest is anti-Christianity because the focus is so much on STUFF instead of Him. (I'm sure that's not a popular attitude, but come on dream homes, designer outfits, fantasy vacations adding up to thousands of pins? Eek!)

Back in the day, social media or not, I got ripped a lot for my parenting because I didn't cook for Mac. I had many people say to my face and audibly behind my back that I was a bad mom because I didn't cook for Mac. I don't know what he'd say, but I have lots of memories of the things we did together that didn't involve food...

My mom was creative like yours too, but she tended to pick and choose the areas that were important to her. I wonder what she would have thought of the whole Internet thing in general.

Post whatever you want about traditions. Some families are rich with them, some families only have a few, but they're lovely to read about!

Ellen aka Ellie said...

BTW, my step-daughter-in-law makes a bundle as a newborn photographer. Two hundred bucks for a sitting, before prints.

Can I "EEK!" again?

Terri said...

To piggyback on what The Empress said, I often wonder how many bloggers are clinging to the image they portray to the world as being one big happy family living the good life because they're too afraid to do otherwise. All marriages have issues and I really appreciate those bloggers who acknowledge them. I'm rather embarrassed to say that I was guilty of doing that in the last years of my marriage. And then one fine day, I woke up and realized that I could no longer turn my back on behavior that wasn't acceptable. Thanks for keeping it REAL, Anna. ((HUGS))

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

I think it's always important (but not always easy) to remember that what we see on the outside - be it through the real world, television, magazines, facebook, pinterest, blogs, whatever - is only a snippet of a much bigger picture. And that snippet we see is usually not a true reflection, but the very best moments or the most stylized version of an otherwise "normal" life. I think what really sets you apart from the crowd Anna is that you are one of those genuine people who is not afraid to bare your soul. You don't tell us what you think we want to hear. You just tell it like it is for you. Gosh I love that! ... Yikes, word verification is almost impossible today!

Jules said...

Anna: You know that through the years parents have always compared themselves to others. I try not to get caught up in those pinterest ideas or how my friends homes are decorated. I think to myself that I am lucky to have a home. It may not be as big as I would like or decorated as I want but it will someday. I'm thankful that I have the family that I have living in it & that our silly traditions are OURS. Some may think that they are ridiculous but I don't care. These little things are what makes our family. Enjoy your traditions. You will look back on them & be thankful that you have them.

Christy said...

I feel exactly the way Marinka does. And I'm totally a slacker. Like this Valentine's Day crap?! I just sent in store bought Valentines and nothing else to Cal's class. He's TWO for god's sake. He was the only kids who didn't send in elaborate valentine's with treats or goodies attached, and who's wasn't homemade. Gah.

SheriJane said...

DO SHARE!!! :D... pretty please ;)

Anonymous said...

I admit to making handmade Valentine's Day cards for my three year to take to preschool but we had so much fun doing it together and THAT is what matters to me. BUT I also have a literal mountain of laundry (honestly, someone could climb it and stick a flag in the top), a bedroom closet that seems to have exploded and is in dangers of eating the bedroom, I don't like to cook, and I am trying to lose 20 pounds. If someone only saw the Valentine cards they might think I have it together but they would be so wrong!

Anonymous said...

Don't wait too long. Now I am very curious to know what this tradition is that Tim started.

You haven't mentioned your mom that often, but I can only imagine that your loss would make you really look back on everything that she meant to you.

@Ellie, I can't believe people called you a bad mother because you didn't cook. I'm kind of assuming your child still had three squares a day. That's horrible.

Lesley T. said...

If it's any consolation, I know for a fact that my aunt's and cousin's Facebook posts are a facade. They pretend that their lives are far happier and tidier than they really are, and for what? To impress a few acquaintances?

Of course some people's lives seem to be mostly sunshine and roses, but I think it's important to remember that people often use social media to share how they wish their lives were, not what their lives truly are.

Thank you for being candid and real! And of course you should share your family traditions--I read your blog because I love reading about your family and your unique perspective.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Good points, all. The bar has been raised so high, it's ridiculous. It makes it hard to remember that most people are living normal, messy lives just like mine.

But I LOVE Pinterest. It makes such an awesome visual filing cabinet, and I just ignore the food and home decorating porn.

Rose said...

I completely relate to this post. Thank you so much for writing. We did use your "Valentine Gratitude box" in our family this year and loved it. Thanks for sharing.

Fiona, LilyfieldLife said...

Hi Anna, I think you can always look at particular elements of people's life and think wow that's great, I'd love that but I ensure I never feel jealous by thinking that you can't have one element , you'd have to swap their whole life : so you may want their money or slim body but you hate their husband, or they have naughty kids ,or their kid died, or they have herpes or whatever.i have never met a person that I'd want their whole life so it means I'm never jealous! It's a good tactic isn't it. It just makes me grateful for my life as a whole even if I'm struggling with losing weight, have a crappy concrete floor and a bad floor plan with the third bedroom whose window looks into the lounge room, , my mum died etc. Does that make sense. It really keeps jealousy at bay!

I also never compare upwards - don't look at people who have bigger houses , more money, more creative etc .in world standards we are all so wealthy. 90% of the world live in shacks compared to our houses. We have the luxury of having houses to decorate, if we want.

I'm not meaning to come off all preacherish, these are just useful ways of looking at the world. (especially as a second child!) lol.
Have a great day
Fona xx

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

I love this post...because nearly every time I read about someone else's craft, see their cool photos or their stylish outfits, I have to remind myself not to compare. Not to think less of myself because of these things.

I do love reading about other people's successes and failures. Most days it provides me with inspiration. But, there are those negative days, when I start reading and think, I should save this for another day. I even feel like a hypocrite with my own writing sometimes. If I read an old post, I will wonder...did I really feel like that. I hope people don't think I feel like that all the time.

It's hard to share so much with each other, but I wouldn't change it! Share away!!

Gigi said...

I had to laugh about being the first one to dig into the Peter Pan because my aunt and I used to fight over that exact same thing. I'd forgotten about that until I read that sentence.

I can't wait to see what tradition you will share.

I really wish I'd had the internet and blogging when my son was small, if only for the connections and the ideas. But somehow, we muddled through with our own, little traditions.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I love seeing and hearing and reading about other people's traditions, but I don't allow them to make me feel guilty. ...Okay, MOSTLY I don't allow them to make me feel guilty.
Just the other day, it occurred to me that the kind of grandmother I hope to be needs to be taking shape NOW because otherwise I am on the path of being exactly as I am now (which is a bit of a couch potato). So if I want to have a cute little fairy garden, why am I waiting? Hmmm.... so much to think about.

I look forward to reading about your traditions.

noexcuses said...

What a refreshing and wonderful post! I love your honesty. On Facebook, I hide statuses of everyone that I envious; with blogs, I only read the ones I know will have meat and not the recipe meats!

And mom of the year? Every year that our kids still call us "mom" has been a good year.

I sometimes find myself looking back at some of my choices and cringe. Then I remember that I would not be where I am today without those choices.

You are an amazing woman, mom and I am guessing, friend, too! As long as you listen to His voice inside, you will never fail.

Thanks for sharing so much of who you are. I am inspired!

Jennifer said...

this made me laugh. I fall into this trap quite often. I started blogging years ago as a way to keep grandparents in the loop with the boys and then quit a few years later when I spent much of their naptime looking at other blogs and then walking away feeling like the worst wife, mom and friend. It became too much. I started blogging again in Oct 2011 when my husband unexpectedly died ...it's been a great source of therapy for me to journal my thoughts but I make sure that I don't paint this "life is perfect" picture for other people (I really never did but I'm way more aware of that now) I hate that we compare ourselves to others but we just do. I have to constantly remind myself that people only blog or facebook the good stuff ......every family has it's issues.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Blogging is all about sharing our lives and I love reading your family traditions. I think I feel a little better being older than you are. I did my best with my children from what I knew. I too would have a hard time trying to keep up with the Joneses of today with all this internet stuff. It's way over the top. Sure I missed out on some awesome baby announcements but it just wasn't like that 30 years ago.

Recently my daughter and I were visiting a friend of both of ours.
She is around 30 and has a lovely home. My daughter will be 32 this year and lives with her husband here with us. She was telling me how nice our friends house was and how cute it's decorated.

I shared with her that over my years of living and having a few homes I learned a long time ago that our homes are just that, they are our homes with the things that we love. Others homes may look exciting but that's only because they are different and not something we live in daily. That doesn't mean they are better.

I may not have had a point here but I wanted to share this. I just laughed at that sentance. Love you Anna. ((HUGS))

mia said...

anna... you are an amazing mom and have given me some of our favorite traditions. You inspire me and many others every single day, for many reasons. xoxoxo

Rupa Rao said...

I loved this post of yours. One among many... Just wanted to let you know I "borrowed" your valentine day gratitude box tradition this year and loved it!!! HUGE hit in my house!!! Keep up your amazing blogging!!!!

Recovering Church Lady said...

I have often been thankful that there was no Internet even, (much older than you) when I was a young mom. Being a pastors family was intimidation enough!

Anne Marie said...

I've talked about this with my girlfriends. Sometimes it's hard to remember not to compare! But when it comes from someone who shares her life warts and all, it is welcome. Love reading your posts and learning so many things from you.

Deb said...

I love traditions! - and I love to hear about other people's traditions, so please share!

I want to add something about how comparison feels from the other side. I have a friend who has said to me on multiple occasions "ugh - your traditions REALLY stress me out!" This year she added "I know I've told you that before, right?" (as if i needed a reminder). Did she mean that I was supposed to change our celebrations so she wouldn't feel so bad about them?

I should add that I think we live a fairly simple life. I try to create traditions around things that are important to us because I believe they bond the family and give the kids security (esp. the simple things - your peanut butter is a great example--and your tree ornament from the bottom of the tree). My traditions center around food because i love to cook and food plays a spiritual role in our lives. But the flip side is I'm terrible at crafts & decorating (my kids always complain about our holiday decorations). We all play to our own strengths, right?

My friend's comment REALLY hurts. It undermines things that usually feel special to me (and perhaps that is her intention?).

Comparison breeds such unkindness. I think perhaps it is easier to help a friend when she's down than to cheer a friend when she's up. Comparison robs us of our ability to do the latter.

Perhaps we could all do better to understand that someone else's achievement does to equate to our own failure.

So...all this is to say, please share your victories without apologies. Then we can all practice the art of cheering on a blogger friend who certainly deserves it! :)

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

love it Anna, you warmed my heart! Whatever we all have is what we have and with that comes gratefulness. You made me smile with the Family fun reference, it was our kid Bible, oh such days! I've saved them to do with my grandkids, guess they can go to the recycling bin since we have pinterest :) Can't wait to hear, and no envy just smiles and warmth.

tracy@sellabitmum said...

I so love this. I'm a huge slacker and I totally own that. Love you xo

Anonymous said...

@Deb, Just my two cents, but your hurt feelings are understandable because your traditions come from your heart and soul. I don't know your friend, but hopefully someone that cares about you would at least try to see your side of things, if you tried to bring this up with her. You are really thoughtful in how you live your life, and that is rare.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. You'll never know how much this meant to me today.

Barb Miller said...

Great post, Anna! It's spot on, and for what it's worth, when I am having a crappy day, I never post anything on Facebook. I bet that is true for a lot of other people, too, so we are unwittingly perpetuating the "life is good" facade!

On the other hand, it drives me nuts when people whine in their posts, so go figure!

Thanks for your honesty and humor in sharing yourself with us!

Anonymous said...

After reading your post about Valentines Day, this evening as I was laying in bed with my 3 year old I asked her to tell me what she loved about each person in our family.

Her response was similar for me, my husband, and our 13 month old and included loving each of us, and wanting to give us hugs and kisses all day/for the whole world/forever and ever.

Thank you so much for sharing you traditions. Us new moms rely, perhaps, on Pinterest way too much when what we really need to do is get back to the roots of how to be our childrens parents.

This won't be the last time I engage in that question, and I'm prepared to write every single response down.

Thank you, Anna. Through your tragedy you are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I am a mommy to be. I have been told I should of course take a picture of my profile everyday and then make a video to see my belly grow.
I felt fat and did not want to do it. I don't have the energy nor the time to do it and I don't like seeing all this fat grow. Now it feels more like a tummy back then it felt..just fat..
Now I feel bad I don't do it while thinking I still should not be doing it.
I am eating healthy, trying to keep myself sane while falling asleep every 2 hours, trying to work 8+ hours everyday as an engineer and do minimal housework to keep surviving.
Trying to enjoy this time with my husband with trips to try to select a pram or go get some sweet in the afternoon together.
I AM NOT A FAILURE
I AM NOT A FAILURE
I AM NOT A FAILURE
Please someone tell me I am..not a failure?

Givinya De Elba said...

Anna, this is why I love your blog! Thankyou for blogging about this - it is SO true! I'm taking a Facebook break and I haven't felt bad about not matching up for ... ooh, like 12 days now! And I've never pinned because I fear I'd start feeling like crap. I look forward to reading about your tradition and I promise to go easy on us. And hey - thanks for being a Christian who cusses. I love having someone so similar to me just blogging out the 'shits'. I have sweet readers who most probably have never even heard the word so I don't feel free to let the S-bombs rip, and I feel my blog is the poorer for it! (Well, it contrasts with real life at any rate.) Love your work, Kate.

Givinya De Elba said...

Oh - Anonymous, YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE! Remember - the day is a success if you haven't seen blood or flames. Well, even blood is okay really, especially at TOM.

Anonymous said...

Givinya...thank you so much! I really needed it, thank you :)

Rach said...

It's so easy to compare ourselves to the perceived perfection of others, isn't it? From the outside, so many folks seem to have it going on, but who the heck knows what's going on on the INSIDE?

It's SO easy in the blogging world to shove all the crap off the table and take a quick photo and then write a lovely blog post, when in reality, the rest of the house is falling down around my ears.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's quite easy to fake it when people can't see into what is REALLY going on in your home. You may try to "keep it real", but there are still things you just don't share.

I can say with absolute honesty, that *yes*, I *do* suffer pangs of envy, but then try to sit back and think of all the great stuff I've got going on and that they're probably not showing the world all the crap that is going on behind the scenes...which sometimes works. ;o)

Jill said...

Ha! I can totally relate. I love blogging and reading others' blogs, but I can't stand the sugar sweet ones. Same with facebook. Nobody should try so hard to put on such a show. Keeping it real is the way to go. Can't wait to read your post later this week.

Mary said...

A few years ago a lot of bad stuff happened to me at the same time: Husband left me for a (much) younger woman, teenaged son stopped speaking to me ... just awful.

I had neighbors who seemed perfect -- perfect children, happy parents, just exactly what our family had never been.

One day I went over to tell them what was going on at my house --they are wonderful neighbors, and I wanted them to know. After I told them, the wife started telling me some things I didn't know: A child with some drug related issues, another with depression, some financial problems they were having.

The husband, confused, said "Honey, she doesn't need to hear all this!" and she replied "Actually, I think she does."

Sitting here at my desk now I'm tearing up thinking of the kindness and empathy that led her to share those kind of details with me, knowing I did in fact need to hear it.

So let's hear it ... we know there is good and bad in all families!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. I always thought the temptation to compare would get better as I got older, but pinterest, facebook, etc. aren't doing me any favors. Much love to you & your family.

Anonymous said...

My sister is Martha Stewart jr. A working mom with three boys and endless amounts of creativity and perfection. Ugh. Even her dog is dressed nicer than me. She thrives on this stuff. God help her future daughter-in-laws. She is the one, now that her boys are fully grown, to call me the day before St.Patrick's Day to put green food dye in the toilet and green footprints on the toilet seat for Lepraucan pee:). I don't know where she gets this stuff. My husband had to put an iphone alarm at 10pm every night this year so I wouldn't forget about moving the Elf..again. That first year was brutal be running past knocking the kids down the stairs to get down there before them and throw the Elf across the room before they saw him. I actually am proud of how well I did this year. My mother was like me and like your mother...Like you, I only have the BEST memories of my childhood. My parents were big emotional investors. The script and props may not have been super elaborate..the frosting on the cake may have been crooked, the hand under my pillow at 7am dropping change from the Tooth Fairy that somehow I must have missed:)...it is all love.

I am not on Facebook. I don't subject myself to that torture. You always make me laugh. NoVa mom Jen

Anna See said...

@Deb-- Your friend's comment was hurtful and harmful. It's so much better to play to our strengths and appreciate that our strengths are different than someone else's! I love to decorate our Christmas trees, but I am a terrible cook. Sounds like we would complement each other well.

@anonymous YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE

Thanks for all of these great comments. I love sharing life with you.

Anna Sandler said...

i actually feel better now that there is pinterest in my life - it's such a whole 'nother league than me and my crafty it's like i'm reading a travel magazine -oooh, that's how some cultures celebrate the holidays! how different from my own!

Sandra Goguen Young said...

I agree! We are trying to things more simplier. Doing a lot of shedding of the extras and doing simple things like board games as a family. We have sit down dinners at least 4 nights a week, at the table. You can never keep up with the Jones, some will do better and some worse. You do the best you can.

My oldest daughter told me once that her best memories as a kid was us singing together with songs at the top of our lungs!

I also read once that you have more memories of things you do, vacations etc. then anything you buy.

mrscravitz said...

Love this post! Says so much about the way life is now. Thank you!

michaelmadelinemae said...

Are you kidding? I LOVE when you post about your family's traditions...so much so that I have already stolen two of them! We now have ice cream for breakfast on the first snow day of the year and we also did our own Valentine Love Bucket this year. Your sharing has enriched my family's life...in so many ways. Thank you. Love.

Mexmom said...

Please share, I love to hear other people's traditions, and there is no way I can be in Pinerest, I don't have the creativity or time to even attempt half the stuff in there.
I am usually the mom who sends the store brought everything at school, and I don't care what other people think.

two and two said...

I have to say it, (no pressure) your blog has just got to be my favorite one that I read. Your honesty is so encouraging to me. Thank you for your optimism and thoughtful reflections. I've never met you and my children are about 10 years younger than yours, but the things you write are refreshing to me as a mother and a person. Very much looking forward to hearing about your family's tradition. Thank you for writing Anna!

Anonymous said...

Than you Anna! Well said as usual=)

Anonymous said...

Love this! I recently had an epiphany about all the comparing/feeling inadequate. Decided I am only going to do things that I like to do. Yes, I did homemade treats for Valentines for a 2 and 4 year old (four year old did all the names on the cards and frosted cookies). I make Halloween costumes with my dubious sewing/crafting skills (I choose costumes that are realistic given these skills or lack of). I like doing it. On the other side I stopped putting bows on Christmas packages -- my mom used to do these elaborate bows and I thought that is what you should do but then I realized, I am no good at it, I do not like it and no one in my family even notices so poof, off the "tradition" list. Holiday decorations are not blog worthy (or honestly even visitor worthy sometimes) but the kids help and they love placing things around the house in odd (low) places and that is fine. Just have taken this approach to life overall -- do I like it, will I enjoy doing it then let's do it.

Hillary said...

A fantastic post, Anna, so funny!

Oh, how I remember the "Just go get a sheet!" tradition for Halloween! And on Valentine's Day it's enough, after the four kids are in bed, to rev up for romance; there are no grand gestures - too exhausting. On our wedding day, we had to order pizza, because the caterer brought too little food!

As for the state of the house, I went to the home of my preschooler's friend, and the house was like a model home - immaculate, beautiful, elaborately furnished. The kids were trained to clear plates and toss their mess as soon as they were done with something. It did me in; it really did. I had lingering anxiety for months about our state of living.

Thanks for the laughs. I'm there with you. Oh, and I hate to cook, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. :-)

Momma Holmes said...

Thanks for once again putting yourself, your true self, out there for the rest of us to go... YES! THAT'S ME TOO! I embrace what others do; everyone's strengths are different and do not take away from mine!

Ryan said...

I am not a mother, and no longer married and yet I feel exactly the same way....about a LOT.

ugh

Anonymous said...

A very generous post. And yes, I think between 1. the pressure to be physically perfect and 2. the pressure to be the perfect mom, what we have is more subtle versions of the oppression of women. But there they are. Still rearing their heads even after the corsets are gone and the voting rights are installed. (apologies of I'm reading too much into it): http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/

Tina said...

I love hearing about other family's traditions. We did your valentine box and it was a huge hit. We started our tradition last year of not spending any money on Valentine's Day gifts and I know that these last two years will be what they remember. After all, they shared it on Instagram with tags #lovemyfamily and #Valentinedayalwaysfunatourhouse. As a mom, I don't think I could ask for anything more. Keep sharing!!

Anonymous said...

@ Mom-to-be, you are not a failure. In fact, you are NOT ALLOWED to take baby bump pictures. What a waste of your precious time! (Not that it's wrong if someone else is into that.)

An engineer, mom-to-be, and loving wife? You sound like an incredible woman. Please think about getting a housecleaning service if the drain on your time and energy becomes too great, and it's in your budget. It is a luxury, but what you really value, it sounds like, is spending your TIME well, and so you would really be purchasing extra time, as opposed to needing to have a perfect house, which you clearly don't. Make sure that you guard your time well.

Lisa said...

Oh, this is how I feel so often. I have pangs of guilt, almost 10 years later, about not having "ah-may-zing" infant photos done. Eh.

One thing my therapist told me when I was working through a bunch of crap after my mom died was that we shouldn't compare the inside of our house to the outside of others...for some reason, that quip really stuck. And when I find myself feeling low and unfit, I remember that one, and realize that some of that outward presentation is the highlight reel. They have outtakes just like we do...

Lady Jennie said...

Why are we so hard on ourselves is right! I am the worst. Oh, and I wanted to go back and read that V-Day story from your early blog. (non-sequitur.

But I think I'm hard on myself because I'm an over-reacher (I can DO this - I KNOW I can) and because I'm a perfectionist

and because I'm human. Bad, bad combination.

Geri said...

One of your best posts to date in my opinion. Comparing, we all do it, and yet at least half the time we feel like crap after.
And your mom giving you a pineapple to give to the teacher? She was one helluva lady!

theworldaccordingtojean said...

I can completely relate to this post and thank you for sharing it. Actually, I get jealous or envious of the material stuff I see on blogs, like other people's homes and other people's motivation and energy to do cool diy's to their homes. But I love reading about or seeing cool ideas they've done with their kids, or in their life, or unique family traditions that I could possibly use. As a single mother, I need all the help I can get. I also love reading about others' feelings about life - such as this post. So, feel free to write about your family traditions and I'll look forward to it. And I'll also be mad, along with Margaret, if you don't finish your book. I think it will be good, and I'm looking forward to it also!

Arnebya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arnebya said...

I don't like perfection; it doesn't seem real. I don't like to see only the good, only the beautiful, finished cake. I want to see that your kid got angry mid-icing and bashed that bitch in! I want to see icing on your face and tears in your eyes. I don't want to see anyone hurt, but I want to see realness, truth, honesty, that this parenting, this LIVING that we're doing is not easy. It is difficult but beautiful and charming but relentless and successful but scary and dangerous, dark, yet lovely.

There are plenty of things I see and read and imagine would have been great had I done them, had my children experienced it. But ultimately, if I gave my children over to others' experiences or wished that theirs were my own, where would I be, what would happen to me? It's not worth it. No one is better. Better is relative. And bullshit.

And Deb -- I get your friend's comment but it's almost like people have forgotten that what we see inside others' lives is just that: what WE see. No one can control how we take their traditions and we should expect that people who love and know us will understand that we aren't (most of us, ha) putting on airs or saying my Pinterest board is my life but rather, this is what we enjoy doing (and my cake is totally lopsided on the other side that I am not showing you.)

Kerry said...

Anna,

You are so sweet - thanks for this post filled with honesty and loving thoughts of others.

Domestic Diva said...

I love this post. It is so true that we just use all of these sites to make us feel like more of a failure as parents, like we need any help with that! I also agree that it is easy for someone to make their life look rosy throuh blogs and pictures but what the reality is not always so picture perfect. I am looking forward to hearing about your traditions. We get ideas from one another and we all build upon what we have and do things to make our own children's lives better and more meaningful. Thanks for this!

SouthLakesMom said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who hated Family Fun Magazine. It seemed designed to make me feel inadequate. And then all my acquaintances began selling Creative Memories and I just about lost my mind...too much pressure! Love to all of you, Anna.

an apropos beginning said...

Well said...I completely understand this feeling of inadequecy. It is so true that Facebook, blogs...etc. only show a small slice of the big pie! I read a quote recently, something like: The picture in our head of how we think it is supposed to be is what screws us up most in life. None of us are perfect...and if it seems that way then I am sure there is a lot more going on behind that closed door than the person may ever reveal. Thanks for your honesty!

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think that if you're trying to compete, you've already lost. I have no kids, but my house is messy sometimes anyway, I hate to cook so my husband does it, and the few times I've tried to let someone talk me into crafting, I've hot glued my fingers together. Who cares? I am who I am, and while not perfect, a lot of people love me exactly the way I am.

Tambi said...

Loved this post, so true. I feel so inadequate each evening after looking at facebook for only 5 minutes. I have been trying to tell myself that folks are probably only posting about the best 5 minutes of their day. I always forgot about the tooth fairy and could never remember to hide the darn jelly beans for Easter!

Anonymous said...

This is one of those posts that I keep thinking about since I read ti yesterday. You verbalized things that I had definitely felt but not fully realized. I love the quote at the top. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed and inadequate by everything that everyone else is doing. But as long as we are trying to make sure our kids feel loved and secure, that is all that matters. My husband always reminds me when I stress about holidays that "We create their reality!"

kate said...

Oh that Elf! Stresses me out every year ... And I've never done it ... Thankfully, the kids are 20 and 15!

Judith said...

As I tell my daughter (a 40 year old mother of six and a teacher): Never compare you worst to someone else's best! And keep sharing!! I love hearing everything you have to say. Keep it real. :0)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anna, for a beautiful post! You have a friend in me on this one.

Jana said...

I'm so glad I checked your blog today. What wonderful timing, after spending the previous hour perusing the blogs of other women who seem able to juggle so much more and look happy while doing so. I am not one of them.

I was thinking too about how I know some pretty dang cool people who have never blogged a day in their lives. Or they don't have Facebook accounts.

And now I have kids making lots of noise in the background, so I can't even concentrate on how to finish this...so..

you're awesome! :) Thanks for your constant authenticity, Anna. THANK YOU!

Jessica Reese said...

LOVE this!!!

Meredith Self said...

keeping up with the jones's is no longer just the neighbors but the whole internet, eh. good freaking point! and i lOVE hearing about your traditions!

Stumbling Towards Perfect said...

I was cleaning today and came across a bag of Valentine's stuffed in the 3-yr old's backpack. HE IS THREE! Plus, I totally missed the whole holiday...because he's THREE and it just wasn't on my radar. *sigh*

Salvimom said...

I am with you there! I am the mom of four kids and I spent two days making over 100 valentines for their classes, smh! I try my best to keep up appearances for their sake, but I have learned that sometimes I have to relax and just say no. You are an awesome mommy. Love you!

Ury

Nindi said...

I love this post!!!! I have felt exactly how you describe. I think of you and your family daily. Jack's picture and magnet are on my fridge. Friends always ask me, "Who is that boy?" I direct them to your blog. You have changed so many people's lives. Keep writing. You have a gift.

claire plante said...

Amen, sister!!

Love,
Claire

Mama Mary said...

Oh, the negative self talk. You know I'm on Lexapro, right? The negative self talk would have landed me in the looney bin if it wasn't for modern medicine! One of the reasons I post about all my failures in the kitchen and with anything domestic is because I hate feeling inferior to other people when I read their sites, so I've wanted to be a place where people feel okay to be who they are. I think no matter what, people will feel inferior or less than, but we are all just squirrels trying to get a nut, or something like that. ;) xoxoxxo

nosmallthing said...

I do this. I hate that I do it. But I do it. I am learning to be better, learning that photos are edited, and situations are scripted and sometimes people just have really beautiful, creative traditions or lives. That doesn't mean my life is any less beautiful. Still some days, when I'm feeling low and facebook calls, I wonder why we aren't vacationing for the third time in Bermuda or whatever. Comparisons stink. Period. Just be happy for one another. And maybe learn a little something.

Anonymous said...

I am continuously fascinated and inspired by people. As a writer there is never a shortage of material:)
One of the things that interest me is how or why we constantly punish ourselves by what we SEE rather than what we KNOW. How do we know that when we look at somebody's perfect life they aren't dealing with some personal issue? We don't unless they have made us aware of the problems in their life.

Some people feel the need to make their lives look so perfect to compensate for how they are really feeling.

Having said that there are many people who are genuinely happy with their lives and too embarrassed to share in fear that they are bragging. They certainly shouldn't feel bad if someone else feels inadequate.

We can all choose how we are going to react to seeing how someone's life is presented to us.
Initial jealousy or comparisons are human and once we acknowledge those feelings we can replace them with loving our own lives.

Thanks for getting us to think Anna.

Anonymous said...

I know a young woman whose husband has had three failed businesses. They have four children and they all live with her mother-in-law. She has over 6000 pins all of things she dreams of having one day. It makes me sad for her. But then I think even feeling that is being judgmental. If she dreams of bigger things, so be it. I hope she recognizes the blessing that surround her already.

Heidi said...

A pineapple?! That might be the funniest, best gift for a teacher ever.
You are a girl after my own heart. Love this post. You put into words how I feel often. Love YOU.

Cynthia said...

Good Gracious, Nail on Head!
I love you so much!!!

KandeeInNY said...

I remember when my ten year old was having her birthday party and I informed her that we were not going to be giving out party bags at her party. Who started that tradition? Whatever happened to being grateful that you were invited to the party. I have a pinterest account and one of my boards is actually titled "pretty, neat things that I will never have use for". Some days, I sniff my shirt before I put it on just hoping that its clean "enough".
What a great post, thank you for each and every one you write.

Loukia said...

Yes! I hate that feeling... like we're doing enough, not good enough, etc. I hardly cook, and when I do it's one of five meals. And I have friends who have "better" jobs than I do, who have children at the age of one drawing "inside the lines" as they proudly display, cooking 10 chicken pot-pies a day on top of working their full-time job, and I'm like... well, we ordered pizza tonight... sigh. Also? Pinterest? That is annoying. I love it, but please. I'm NOT crafty. I'm not going to waste my time making a 7 layer different colour cake because I'll be in tears on layer two! I will make ONE cake, thank you very much. But still.. it's easy to feel bad, and not good enough. All that matters to me though is if my children are happy and feeling loved and are fed and well taken care of! :)