In Defense of the Pinterest Mom vs. I'm Not Pinterested | Round 1
Welcome to our new recurring column, where Trish and Kristina prove that you can feel the exact opposite about throwing your kids birthday parties (and pretty much every other kid-related activity that involves extensive Pinterest research) and still remain great friends.
In Defense of the Pinterest Mom
I absolutely love a good birthday party theme. In fact, we start planning our next party theme as soon as our last guests leave the house after the current birthday party. By “we”, of course I mean me. As someone who had two “friend” birthday parties growing up (year 7 and year 16), I fully admit to living vicariously through my children’s joy. Let’s take a walk down birthday-theme lane for a minute…
- Year 1: Zebras (With a hired musician leading a sing-along of animal-themed songs!)
- Year 2: Owls (Look “Whoooo’s” Two!...complete with a 3 foot tall owl piñata)
- Year 3: Mickey and Minnie (Golly Gee, Looks Who’s Three!)
- Year 4: Superheroes (Complete with guest appearances by Spiderman and Iron Man)
- Year 5: Legos (Being 5 is AWESOME!)
- Year 6: Outer Space (The rocket ship car giving guests rides around town might have been my best idea to date. See video proof below.)
By this point you’re either shaking your head and thinking that I’m setting an unrealistic picture of what celebrations should consist of, or you’re trying to guess what Year 7 will entail (Spoiler: I’m thinking a “Sail the Seven Seas” pirate theme would work!). Yes, I’ll admit this is a bit much. Ok, maybe more than a bit.
Last year I had dinner with one of my very best friends who re-hashed the horrors of her ill-fated assignment as “room mom” for one of her kid’s school parties. “Never again,” she said as she recounted the Judgy Judgerton eyes of the other expert room moms when they realized my friend hadn’t brought forks.
“No forks?! What will they eat their grapes with?!?”
After our laughter died down, all I could think was that I am that mom.
“We need a volunteer to make reindeer crafts at the party.” That’s ME!
“Is there anyone who can host the next family picnic?” ME ME ME!
“Anyone interested in chairing this committee?” OF COURSE! IT’S ME!!!
And you know what? I’m okay with the judgement. I’m content with the fact that some mamas will roll their eyes at my over-the-top planning and that some will wonder how I’ll possibly keep up with the expectations I’ve set for my kiddos. I’m just fine with being “that mom.” Here’s why…
After throwing a "Mommy and Me" Tea Party a few months ago one of my mama besties said to me: “Thank you for creating memories for my daughter.” We laughed and hugged, and my mind began running ahead to what I might plan next. My heart was full watching the little girls and their mamas (and grandmamas!) that day as they made charm bracelets and ate finger sandwiches together. As someone who never got fancied up for a “Mommy and Me” day of any sort as a child, I loved that my girls could share a day like this with me. Is that selfish? Maybe. But I can assure you I won’t feel guilty about it. Or the birthday parties or the elaborate crafts or themed food days. Selfish or not, I want my kids to have the kind of memories I do not have of my childhood.
We mamas are all doing our own things and doing them the way we think is best for us and our children. No matter if you are a Pinterest mama or not, we’re all on the same team and need to support each other on our parenting journeys. Enjoy the ride!
I’m Not Pinterested
Every time my kids come home with a birthday goody bag from school, I want to scream. Here’s why:
- It’s filled with garbage.
- It’s filled with garbage that my children adore for five minutes but never want to get rid of.
- It sets the precedent that I’m supposed to hand out similar bags of garbage when it’s their birthday.
“Sets the precedent” is just another way of saying “makes me feel guilty”. If I’m not sending them to school with similar birthday goody bags—filled with stickers, bubbles, candy, pencils, noisemakers, tattoos, rings, figurines, nail polish (I could keep going, but you get the picture)—am I a bad mother? Will they feel bad that they didn’t have goody bags for their friends? Or worse: Would their friends make them feel bad that they didn’t have goody bags for them?
But I have to stay strong. I don’t need any more of those things in my house, and if I make goody bags like that every year, it’s just perpetuating a behavior that I personally feel peer pressured to follow along with. What lesson am I teaching about peer pressure if I’m not standing my own ground?
This way of thinking extends to my opinions on lots of things that I feel I’m obligated to do as a parent in 2017: getting pictures taken with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, “fun” food, Elf on the Shelf, Easter baskets, theme days at summer camp. (I think I just wrote the list of upcoming topics for this recurring column.) And similarly, I don’t want to set precedents with my children that I don’t intend to keep. I want them to enjoy an Easter egg hunt, but I don’t want them to expect me to coordinate one every year and be disappointed if I’m not able to. So, on the one hand I feel guilty for not doing an Easter egg hunt for them, and on the other hand I’m trying to avoid the guilt later of disappointing them. I can’t win.
Here’s an example of how this schizophrenic thinking manifests itself: In the days leading up to Easter, I refused to make Easter baskets or set up an Easter egg hunt. And then on the actual day when we’re on our way home from church, I made my husband pull over at a convenience store while I bought the last sleeve of plastic eggs on the shelf and a few random snacks with which to stuff them. (Note: Stuffing Easter eggs with potato chips is not a good idea. They fall on the ground as soon as the egg is opened.)
Once in a while? Yes. Once in a while my husband will cut their French toast to looks like train cars or a house (but more often than not, they like to use their imagination and make different shapes with their French toast with every bite). Once in a while we’ll put one of those tattoos on them because it makes them so danged happy. And we’re happy to let their grandmother and aunt bring them to get their picture taken with Santa Claus (because seriously, I’m not waiting in that line for them to not smile in a picture).
I think what I’m slowly learning (in part by writing this post) is that I probably need to start giving my kids some credit. Just because I’m fearful that their expectations will be set that every year is bigger and better, that doesn’t have to be true. There’s a way that their expectations can be set to something I can reasonably achieve: By me setting their expectations that way.
My daughter’s 4th birthday is coming up in the fall, and I plan to talk to her about all this. We are actually toying with the idea of having a birthday party with more than just family this year (gasp!). And while I may give out copies of her favorite book to all her guests or something useful like a good straw cup, you can bet that there will not be any goody bags filled with garbage.