Two years ago, I was at a birthday party thrown by a like-minded friend who went all-out with crafting and styling her one year old’s big bash. She didn’t spend hundreds of dollars, but she put thought and effort into the tiny details, and of course, turned to Pinterest for inspiration. (Five years ago, she would have turned to a craft book or magazine, remember those?)
Everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed over the thoughtful touches, and complimented her efforts — the way I was raised to compliment someone on their home, or the food offered, whenever I was invited over for a get-together. And then, one mom decided to “share her opinion” about all of these “Pinterest Moms” who are so silly and naive to be spending all their time on such pointless activities when all kids care about is cake — not the cute bits of fondant on the cake. She hated what she considered the competitive nature of Pinterest Moms, and saw the parties as just an excuse to show off.
She’s not alone. There are so many articles and blog pieces out there blasting the guilt and comparison felt by so many moms who, for whatever reason, don’t live Pin-worthy lives. In an effort to make those who don’t spend months planning their kids’ birthday parties, or get up early to make cute animal-themed lunches, or sew coordinating holiday outfits feel better about their choices, they instead choose to tear down the moms who do.
Us “Pinterest Moms,” we’re obsessed with our children, have our priorities backwards, have no ambitions or interests beyond our children, are competitive and seeking validation through others’ approval, and are just plain wasting our time. Did I miss anything? (It just makes me want to break into Taylor Swift lyrics.)
But what these opinion pieces don’t take into account is that we are all different. We have different interests, different “love languages,” and different forms of self-expression.
I could do a full psychoanalysis of my reasons for being so into planning little events for my daughter and her friends, doing mini-units as part of a curriculum that could easily exist without them, or hand making presents, and so on… but I think it’s enough to say that I enjoy it, and I’d still do it even if there was no Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest to share everything.
(And for many of us, this tendency to get carried away and full-out enjoy any occasion to celebrate or embrace a theme was already in full swing before children. I wore themed outfits to university lectures, threw holiday parties for even the smallest of holidays during the middle of exams, and was the only girl in my sorority house whose room decor changed out with the seasons.)
Just like how picking up our children’s favourite snack at the grocery store is a form of expressing love for many parents, putting together my daughter’s first skate kit, or planning a Wiggles-themed birthday party, or the decorating a little book nook helps me express my love in a fulfilling and fun way. I don’t see myself as responsible for making my daughter’s childhood magical, but why can’t I join in on the fun by installing a little fairy door in her new bedroom?
Why yes, my daughter and I wore matching Leafs jerseys for her first skate lesson, and I bought an empty Starbucks cup and filled it with homemade hot chocolate for a special pre-lesson treat as I drank a real coffee. AND surprised her with her first rolling skate bag filled with all the essentials.
And when I take those efforts and moments and share them on social media, I get to connect with other women and friends with the same interests, especially those friends who I just never get to see often enough between all of our various obligations. I get to see snippets of their day, and the highlights that they are focusing on amongst the harder and less glamourous parts of life, and motherhood. (I know their kids have temper tantrums, clog the toilets with too much toilet paper, and all myriads of other typical child behaviour, but I’m dealing with enough of that on my own with taking care of six kids for 50 hours a week — I don’t want to see more of it. And really, I don’t enjoy seeing a child’s crying face posted all over my computer, or think we should post unkind or embarrassing stories about our children online where it has the potential to come back at them later in life.)
There have always been parents that are more hands-on or seem to have it all together, and make some other parents feel a bit insecure. There have always been dinner parties or children’s parties that were a bit over-the-top and left people talking for weeks afterward. And now, thanks to social media we get to see a whole lot more of them. But, honestly, it’s easy to focus on the other shares, or just simply not follow the people who share pins that are just not of interest or make one feel bad about oneself. (You don’t even have to unlike someone to unfollow now. They’ll never know!)
Or we can just ask ourselves, why do these shares make us feel bad? What insecurity is it really speaking to, and how can we better address it in a more sustainable way than belittling and dismissing those who have different interests?
Rather than hate the mom who creates cute bento box lunches for her kid, why not talk to your child about why teaching them to make their own lunch reflects a family value? Rather than feel guilty about the store-bought (or Etsy-curated) costume your child will be wearing this Hallowe’en, why not embrace resourcefulness and make something together (or add some personal touches to something pre-made)?
I appreciate and love my friends who could care less about all of the little celebrations I so enjoy. As far as I’m concerned, if you told your kid you love them today, you’re already doing a great job. (Bonus points if you remembered to feed them at regular intervals.) But, please, stop telling me that I’m doing it wrong or making you feel bad because I’m having fun. If your kid wants to come join in on our Leprechaun hunt, send them over (just make sure they’re wearing something green so they don’t get pinched), and I’ll send them home with a little pot o’gold treat. You can even come over for a cup of coffee (with green steamed milk, naturally) and we can talk about the more important things that connect us as moms.
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts about being a Pinterest Parent — if you’re a Pinterest Parent, too, and would like to receive my hands-on learning, parenting inspiration, or recipes posts to your e-mail inbox, please consider subscribing to my free weekly newsletter: