Anna has a pink bear that she’s slept with for years. Toting that thing all over tarnation since she was big enough to crawl, she also twiddles the tag attached to his bottom while watching t.v. or falling asleep. We’ve had frantic searches at bedtime more nights than I can count and this lovey has clocked air miles from Alabama to New Mexico.
Quite simply, she loves that thing and nary the two shall part.
Pink Bear had his 5th Birthday this week. Or at least that’s what Anna announced on Thursday. Interestingly, he (she? The jury is still out on Pink Bear’s gender.) had just celebrated his 4th birthday the day before. Maybe it’s like dog years, or something.
At any rate, while Anna didn’t seem to feel that the 4th birthday warrented any special attention, birthday number 5 was cause for a first class party. All morning long she drug out all manner of paper products, setting up the dining room the way I usually do for a birthday celebration. Nothing would satisfy until I also rummaged in the birthday bin to find streamers and hats
She repeatedly talked about “Pink Bear’s Birthday Party” like it was going to be an actual thing. I translated this into more work for me and tried to steer clear of getting sucked in.
But by lunch, she kinda had me in the spirit of the things as I saw how her heart was set on a party and how much she was putting into it.
So I took off my “No, I don’t have time (energy, patience, one inkling of desire to use up valuable attention on this)” hat and decided to be the “Yes” mom that I fail to be most days.
With party products on the table and presents (toys from her room) stuffed in recycled gift bags, she said, “But Mom, how about a cake. We HAVE to have a real cake. With candles, so I can help him blow them out.”
(Ugg. I thought I was being pretty awesome just setting up a birthday party for a stuffed animal. Now you want me to prepare actual food??)
The whole thing had been a slippery slope, so I figured I better just do it up right so maybe we could move on with life later. Besides, her little heart was on the line with this one. I could tell.
To the pantry we went, but no cake mix in sight. From scratch was NOT an option so we settled on a heart shaped rice-krispie cake with white chocolate candy coating.Then, we had leftover candy coating so that lent itself to making party treats out of pretzels and animal crackers. This whole celebration was growing by the minute.
A party. For Pink Bear. Because there aren’t enough humans in this house to bless. Let’s add the stuffed animals.
As Anna was diligently working on her edible masterpieces, I snapped this picture and shared it on Facebook and Instagram:
Within minutes one of my sweet friends left this comment:
“Best. Mom. Ever.”
I smiled that she would think such a thing. But then I bit my lip and frowned.
Because I’ve been that mom who saw posts from other mom’s about the educational and delightful activities they were doing with their children.
And I’ve been the mom that typed, “Best. Mom. Ever.” under the darling pictures of them baking from scratch, or making exceptional crafts, or going to the library, or memorizing scripture or basically doing anything other than watching t.v.
I’ve also been that mom who felt something was lacking in me after I typed those words. As if I had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Mama Guilt.
Big fat Mama Guilt.
It usually sounds something like this:
I should be doing more crafts with my kids. I should be taking them on educational day trips. I should be planning mega-themed birthday parties. I should be dressing them in adorable outfits and turning everyday moments into picture perfect photo opps.
I should be doing more awesome stuff with my kids. I should be trying harder to be a better mom.
And herein lies the reason social media can be friend or foe.
When we use it for lighthearted fun, staying connected with those care about, or a healthy dose of inspiration, it’s a wonderful friend.
But when we look at what other mom’s are doing with their kids and use it as the measuring stick to judge our own parenting, it’s a vicious foe.
Why? Because it’s not a complete picture of reality. And it leads us to make unrealistic assumptions about others and the lives they lead.
You know what I didn’t show on Facebook this week? The hours I let Anna watch t.v. so I could work on a project. The look on her face when I told her “no” to painting. The moment I lost my cool and yelled because she wouldn’t get her shoes on and out the door because we were running late…again.
I didn’t show 99% of what is real and true about our actual life outside of the public eye. Because people probably wouldn’t “like” or comment on that.
It’s like bumping into a friend you haven’t seen in a while. She looks great and you’re totally jealous of her slim thighs… how does she pull that off after three kids!? What you don’t know is that she’s got on a pair of killer Spanx. At the end of the day she’s going to peel that sucker off and the same cellulite you deal with is plastered to her as well. There’s more than meets the eye. We could all evoke that kind of jealousy if nobody saw us save the days we wore Spanx from our necks to our knees!
But that’s not realistic. And neither is attempting to achieve every precious mothering moment we see plastered on Facebook.
Friends, sometimes I think we need a week of Facebook posts about the parts of our lives that aren’t Kodak moments. We go around thinking that what we see is representative of actual life for other people, and wonder why we can’t achieve that level of happiness/parenting success/idyllic reality. Which leads to guilt, because clearly they’re doing it right and we’re getting it wrong. Maybe a strong dose of “real life only please” posts would do us some serious good.
It’s time to stop buying into the lie that every other mother is doing it better.
It’s time to stop measuring our parenting against slice-of-life Facebook posts and remember that we aren’t seeing the whole picture.
It’s time to spend less time comparing what we’re doing with what they’re doing and simply do our best at this hard and holy parenting thing.
So, Pink Bear’s birthday party. The rest of the precious story.
Anna decided we needed to invite friends late in the afternoon. Which translated into a mad dash to straighten up this house we had trashed all the live long day. The social worker showed up before I got much accomplished on that. So…a trashed house (embarrassed!) and explaining to a social worker why we were having a party for a toy. Superb.
By the time she left I was down to 30 minutes before “guests” arrived (thank you Tanya for coming on short notice!!). I got snippy with the kids because they don’t get the cleaning part. I broke up two fights and
yelled talked firmly at least once. The celebration was wild and unruly. The New Chick was in rare form during the whole blessed shindig and by the time it was all over I felt like I needed a nerve pill.
But the girl was delighted. And I snapped this one serene moment in the midst of all the chaos to share on Facebook.
What you can’t see are the pajamas she’s been wearing for two days and the ratty hair due to no brushing. Also, Nate and I might have had a near marital conflict.