Every day when Little Man comes home from preschool, he says, “Mom, let’s see what’s in my backpack!”
We sit at the kitchen table and open his backpack together to talk about the projects he’s brought home and look at any notes from his teacher.
I love this ritual. Often, his little brother is still napping, so it’s quiet, special one-on-one time with Little Man.
Last week, as we did this, I found a note from his teacher announcing the date of the class Valentine’s Day party and an invitation to send valentines to give out to the other students and teachers.
Immediately, I started thinking about what kind of valentines to make. I took to Pinterest and found countless clever ideas that ranged from simple print-and-cut to not-so-simple-DIY-that-will-actually-require-hours-of-cutting-gluing-and-applying-washi-tape.
I started debating with myself about which ones my son would like best, or which ones his classmates would enjoy most…and wondering when I was going to squeeze this project into my schedule.
And then I stopped.
Somewhere in my Pinterest-dizzy brain, a question broke through. Why was I making cutesy valentines? Did Little Man care how fancy they were? No. Would his friends at school treasure them for years if they were homemade? No. Did I really want to spend the time it would take to hunt for, print, purchase supplies for, and assemble said valentines? No.
So, why was I even considering spending time–of which I so often claim I don’t have enough–on something that NO ONE cared about?
Because, in this age of Pinterest-perfection, I felt like it was expected. I mean, is it even acceptable to just buy the box of cheap valentines at the store anymore, or would I be branded as the “lazy mom”?
And then again, I stopped. And I asked myself, What am I trying to prove?
Oh, how this is a hard question for me. I would like to say I don’t care what other people think…but I do. The perfectionist and people-pleaser in me wants to show off some completely adorable project. But, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t be doing it for my son…or the other kids who would receive the valentines…or for my own enjoyment. I would be doing it for the other Pinterest-searching moms who will pull that valentine out of their kid’s backpack after school at the kitchen table.
And, I realized, that’s a stupid reason.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with breaking out your Silhouette and making cutesy valentines if you want to. Maybe next year, I will be the blogger posting some cute idea. The problem isn’t with the valentines. The problem is with the feeling that we have to be the mom who makes all of the wonderful things that we see on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. The problem is allowing ourselves to feel like if we don’t, we’re somehow failing.
I love Pinterest. I spend way too much time there, and I get tons of great ideas. BUT…
Sometimes we need to step back and say, I’m the mom who buys valentines at the store, who made mac and cheese from a box for dinner, and who has had a blank living room wall for the past 3 years with really good intentions of hanging an adorable gallery wall.
Sometimes I need to say…I’m the mom who can’t do it all.
And that’s okay. In fact, it’s good. No one can do it all, and we do ourselves and others a disservice by trying to look like we can.
I’ve often said: I can do ANYTHING that I want, but I can’t do EVERYTHING that I want. And that frustrates me!
But I can’t change the number of minutes in the day. Lately I’ve been trying to be conscientious about where I invest time and energy. It’s all about opportunity cost: if I spend time on making cute valentines, what else do I have to cut out of my schedule? Is that really where I want to focus my time and effort?
And for me, this year, the answer is no. So, I took Little Man to the store, let him pick out any box of pre-made, uber-commercialized, perforated, ready-to-go valentines, and I’m reveling in the simplicity of it.
And you know what, he was thrilled.
And for the record, when he came home from his Valentine’s party yesterday, here’s what he brought with him…
So, I guess I’m not the lazy mom after all. I’m just normal. It’s good to remember that from time to time.
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