A few weeks I was surfing social media and saw an article that I immediately related to: No Leprechauns, No Valentine's Boxes, No Elves, and why that is Okay. At the moment, I was having all sorts of guilt because I had yet to plan anything for Cooper's impending 5th birthday. I did nothing special for St. Patrick's Day, except for the green polka-dot ribbon I added to Shelby's ponytail as we walked out the door. We don't hand make our Valentine's Day cards, instead we buy them. We don't do Elf on the Shelf. We rarely decorate for minor holidays, though Cooper did talk me into hanging a few hearts for Valentine's Day this year.
The free time that I have is limited. I work full time and am often traveling and away from home. I don't want to spend what little time I have making elaborate holiday crafts or decadent treats. I want to spend that time doing something with my family. I want to read with them. I want to go on adventures with them. I want to make memories with them. I do not want to have to worry about moving the Elf on the Shelf every, single night in the weeks leading up until Christmas. That sort of stuff just eats into our quality time and if I have to choose, then quality family time always wins.
But here's the thing: I don't begrudge the mamas out there who do Elf on the Shelf or hand craft every birthday decoration for their kids' parties. Good for them. If that's what they like to do and it makes them happy ... then I say "Way to go!" It's just not for me and I'm okay with that. I'm not that mom.
The longer I'm a mama, the more push and pull I feel from outside influences. I assumed one day I'd wake up and be comfortable in my mama skin. It doesn't work that way. Of course some things are easier. But I see what everyone else is doing and "want" to do more or do things differently. And then I realize the things I see all over Pinterest and blogs don't really interest me, and I really don't have time for them anyway. If I think about it long enough, the guilt of not being that mom fades away and I realize that I'm okay with being me. Plus, I think I'm the best mom for my kids. They have needs and interest that are different than other kids. We have created an environment where they can thrive. If I try to be someone else, then they won't be in their happy place. And I'd be sending them a message that it's not okay to be yourself. And I'm not okay with that.
Today (and every day) I resolve to change the way I think. I'm going to be the best mama I can be. I won't be that mom. I'll just be me. I think everyone – me and my children – will benefit from this. Here are a few tip I try to live by in my constant quest to accept myself as a mother.
1. Don't compare. Compare and despair my friend always tells me. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing and wondering why you're not doing it the exact same way. Do what makes you feel good. Do what works for your family.
2. Mother with blinders on. A couple of months ago I created a board on Pinterest called "Children's Birthday Ideas." I scoured the web for clever party ideas for both Cooper and Shelby. The more ideas I pinned, the worse I felt. There was no way I was going to be able to make their parities as cool as what I saw online. Then, Cooper begged to have his party at Peter Piper Pizza. He wanted to play games and ride the roller coaster with his friends. He didn't want my fancy, Pinterest-inspired party. He wanted what he wanted. And that was good enough. So I'm limiting the amount of time I look at Pinterest (and blogs) in regards to parenting. I don't need to add to my guilt as a mother.
3. Celebrate your strengths. Around my house, art is king. We create all the time. Not every mom I know is creating splatter painting with her kids. But that's what we do and it's important to celebrate my (our) strengths.
What about you? How about you cut yourself some slack today and just be yourself. I promise you your kids will love you not matter what. And they'll be totally okay with a store-bought birthday cake.