Monday, February 18, 2013
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.