I’ve never been a Pinterest Mom. Birthdays around here consistently include a cake in a 9×13″ pan, from a box. I have had little time or energy for anything cute, including teachers gifts, helping in school classrooms, and birthday treats. I’ve kept a swarm of children on my legs for 7 years; making cutesy butterflies out of fruit didn’t make my list of priorities.
I didn’t volunteer in the classrooms of my older kids; I always had a baby at home needing care. To put it simply: I couldn’t be a SuperMom. With some inner work, I moved to a place where I didn’t feel that I had to do these things. I knew that “enough” was enough for me. I knew my priorities – what mattered to me in my work of mothering – and stuck to them. I let grandma do the crafts.
On the first day of school this year, I sent my kids with homemade cinnamon rolls for their teachers. I even printed off a cute little card. (One of my biggest successes of the summer was getting my printer to talk to my computer. THIS, my friends, deserves a medal.) Granted, the treats weren’t wrapped in burlap because I don’t know where to buy those kinds of things, and then I would loose them in my basement. But the note, you see, was cute. “Here’s to a sweet year!” it said. I texted a friend: It’s like I don’t even know who I am anymore!
But here’s a secret, one I feel will serve you well: I felt zero compulsion to do such a task. There was no little angel sitting on my shoulder saying, “a good mom would make baked goods.” I lost that little angel with the third kid, when I gave up on matching socks.
What happened on the first day of school is that I felt free to do something. Not compelled. Not guilted. Not forced. Free.
If you’ve seen the movie Bad Moms, you know that getting rid of the Mom Guilt is big time. There’s so much shaming involved with how we choose to mother, be it what we put in the bake sale or how professional our kids’ science experiments appear. Keeping up with Mrs. Jones exhausts too many moms. To those who feel imprisoned by Valentine’s Boxes, I admonish you: Break Free!
And. Also. I think we need to notice the Mom Guilt associated with moving in the other direction. In our freedom to Not Do It All, we’ve started to eliminate the freedom To Do. My friends, we’re not just freed from, we’re freed to. We get to choose the direction of our energies. We get to do good – the good of our own essence, the good we were created to do.
Here’s what I’m discovering: Freedom is intimidating. Someone who knows how she wants to live, and moves according to her values can conjure up feelings of inadequacy in people around her. We misinterpret someone doing her thing as the standard to which we should be doing ours. But the only one holding me to that standard is me.
Teachers are not expecting you to make cinnamon rolls next year because I did it this year. And I am not interested in some sort of cinnamon roll making contest. What I am interested in, however, is what makes you come alive. What ideas spark conversation? What makes you want to clear a little time in the schedule? You should do more of that. Not because you should; because you can.