About Those Pinterest Moms…

It’s officially one week ’til we’re back at school around here, and we’re in full tilt Preparation Mode, man.

School Supplies? Check.
Haircuts? Check.
New Shoes? Check.
Hole-less Jeans? Check.

Adorable First-Day-of-School Picture Signs? Of course!
Homework Stations Built? You bet!
Back-to-School Countdown Crafts? Have been ready for weeks!

Apple Plates on the table, Decoupaged Mason Jar Pencil Holders on the desk, and Ruler Wreath ready for the front door? I wouldn’t have it any other way!

And the list goes on and on and on…

… except nearly all of that’s a lie because I’ve only done one of those things. I ordered school supplies online in an oh-crap-the-stores-are-probably-sold-out-and-now-this-will-take-me-hours-and-days-to-hunt-it-all-down moment, and, to be clear, we got the plain pencils and the cheap paper, and the only thing – the only thing – I let my kids pick were the colors for their bottom-pocket folders. They were genuinely thrilled at folder-picking, though, which tells you something about how low we set expectations in these parts. 

Low.

Low, low.

Extremely low is where our expectations land.

Because, honestly? If my kids arrive at school dressed and semi-on-time, I consider it a win. Hair brushing happens occasionally on school mornings. Teeth brushing is a bedtime-only activity. Jam is usually present on 7-year-old faces as they walk into their classroom. And we often fudge on what, exactly, “semi-on-time” means. Five minutes late? Ten? Twenty but with a really good excuse? SEMI-ON-TIME! 

Right now, everyone in this house has shoes that are mostly OK and they’ve all got one pair of pants with no holes. I think. I don’t really know. Mostly, we’ve been wearing undies (not always) and jammy pants and swimsuits for months, but theoretically we’ve got holeless pants, and theory is all I need to justify not buying more. 

Back-to-school, in other words? Can bite me. I’ve done what I’m going to do, and I will do no more. 

But I’ve been troubled lately about a trend I see developing online, and I’m afraid sometimes I’m a contributor, so I wanted to take a minute to pause and talk about all those Pinterest Moms out there who are, undoubtedly, in full-on, adorable, back-to-school mode.

pinterestlogoYou know the ones, right? They’re mamas who make heart-shaped bacon for Valentine’s Day? The ones who tape balloons outside their kids’ bedrooms while the kids sleep so they’ll awaken to discover a Balloon Avalanche when they emerge on their birthdays? The ones who hand stamp thank you cards and actually send them with personal, hand-written notes, sometimes for no good reason at all except they’re grateful and say so with words? The ones who make every teeny, tiny holiday into a GIANT EVENT with banners and table scapes and party favors? The ones who, technically speaking, make the rest of us look like lazy slugs who don’t have our crap together?

Those moms?

Yeah, well. Here’s the thing about those moms: many of them are doing all that because… wait for it… it makes them happy.

Or in the case of my sister-in-law, who does every one of the things listed above, she does them because they bring emotional healing; my nephew, you see, is medically fragile and can’t leave the house without risking his life, and so each of those crafty projects right down to the heart-shaped bacon is a celebration of life. A way to express love. A choice to make being house-bound fun. And an example to her kids that there is joy to be found in the little things.

And I know what you’re thinking; it’s even worse than we thought! Because it turns out, those moms aren’t Pinteresting at us. They’re not doing it to be better than us. They’re not, in fact, thinking about us at all when they craft. They’re just doing what’s fun and silly and pretty and, in some cases, deeply meaningful and actually important for themselves and their families.

The jerks.

Or as my friend Meghan put it, “Pinterest is a fascinating example of how we project our own insecurities onto other people as their problem.” 

Which pffttt. And ugh. And blerg. And pffttt again. Because that is so true. And also not at all how I want to be… or the example I want to set for my kids.

I keep seeing articles online becoming more and more popular that put down, belittle or shame our fellow mamas for creating beautiful things. Some of the criticism is subtle, some of it’s not. The truth is, the Pinteresty ones among us are taking it in the teeth these days, momrades. Told they’re setting the bar too high. Told to stop it on behalf of the rest of us. Told they’re Pinteresting and crafting and creating at us. 

We can do better than that, though. We can be better than that. Part of stopping the Mommy Wars is to quit picking sides and to start celebrating each of us, not despite our differences, but because of them. To honor our diversity. To quit the field of comparison. To choose to be confident in the people we are and throw away our measuring sticks, because measuring sticks are liars. They never measure our worth correctly; not ever.

The truth is, I’m tired of playing the Us against Them game – just really, really tired of it – and I long for us to be All for One and One for All.

We are a community, after all. Or, as I like to think of us, a Come, Unity; in the act of bringing unity to each other, even if we’re not quite there yet. In process. On our way.

So, perhaps, as we get ready for this school year, we can lay down our weapons. Both the weapons we use against each other and, especially, the weapons we use against ourselves. Perhaps it’s time, this new school year, for a New Year’s resolution:

All for One and One for All.

And Momrades, Unite.

Sending you all love, even you crazy Pinteresty ones,
Beth

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
29 comments
  1. […] had a hole in the wall and a Mouse House in our hallway lo these many years. In other words, I AM SO PINTERESTY, […]

  2. […] My close friend Kim is the QUEEN of making something small into “a thing”, and she LOVES it. Her five year old is life threateningly allergic to so many things it is hard for them to leave the house, and so she and her husband fight super hard for joy and making memories inside their home when they can’t do them in the normal ways. They celebrate President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, first days of the seasons, birthdays to the max…. it is a way for her to enjoy motherhood and “make some magic” on hard days, and make sure that her kids remember fun and “special things” even when they can’t go out for ice cream, to the zoo, etc. Her sister-in-law, inspired by her, wrote an awesome post about this view of “the Pinterest moms”: http://bethwoolsey.com/2014/08/about-those-pinterest-moms/ […]

  3. […] if you’ve never thought of that elegant solution yourself. It’s OK. You’re OK. Some of us are Pinteresty, and some of us aren’t, and we accept all comers here. As for me, I’m Pinteresty. Obviously. I mean, I even shoved ice in my hair, […]

  4. […] community here, and we welcome everyone, even you overachievers who do things on time and are Pinteresty and stuff. Love to you, […]

  5. Thank you for this!! This week as I’ve been seeing several of my friends Facebook posts about their super adorable Valentine’s I’ve been feeling guilty about the store bought ones stuffed with temporary tattoos that I sent my kids to school with. But then I remembered this post and came back to read it and remind myself that they aren’t crafting AT me, they’re just doing something they actually enjoy. And I’m not crafting elaborate Valentine’s because that is so not my thing and my kids are just lucky they have anything to bring because 5 kids, man. So thank you, for writing things that stick with me and make me feel like it’s ok to be the mom I am.

  6. […] the other hand, if any of you Pinteresty types are looking for a Christmas project, I have got a GREAT Advent Calendar […]

  7. […] try to compare our families to fictional people that exist only on a screen. It’s like being mad at the Pinterest moms that do everything – we don’t know the whole story and it isn’t fair to either of […]

  8. I am soooo not crafty/creative/artsy. I’ve been trapped before feeling guilty for my lack of creativity. Now days I just don’t look at Pintrest and when I see Facebook posts, etc of my ‘over achieving’ friends I give myself a pass to just be me.

  9. I love you.

    I’ve been jealous and harshly negative about a woman in our community who (I think) sets a bad example by Doing Way More Than Anybody Reasonably Could, making Martha Stewart look like a slacker. I live on the edge of Silicon Valley and we have some very serious over-achievers. I struggle with chronic illness and can’t do much and I am so jealous that She can. It makes me bitter.

    Yesterday I interviewed a potential therapist for our gender-confused teen. S/he needs us to be better able to support him/her so we are looking for a specialist in teen gender issues. The therapist listened to my long catalogue of “and then this happened”, outlining 30 years of incredibly bad luck and trauma in our family, and the therapist showed me respect about it, without being overwhelmed or indicating that perhaps I over-dramatize to get attention. Today I feel a deeper sense of self- respect because, actually, it’s pretty amazing that I’ve kept going and that the kids wear clean clothes and pack a somewhat healthy lunch. Maybe I can’t run a craftsy business empire, as the target of my jealousy does…but by heck am I a survivor. The visibly high-achievers in our neighborhood may still look down on me and my visibly messy home, but we are keeping on going in spite of All Of It. Your post helped me remember their humanity, and that if people Knew What I’ve Been Through, they’d be amazed at how often we are semi-on-time. Thank you.

    1. You sound like a kick ass mom. Keep it up. <3

  10. In addition to all the other wonderfulness of this post and comments, I love that some of the Pinteresty folks have shared the secret that they can be Pinteresty AND both/and (maybe both and both/and?). Because I am sometimes slightly crafty, but also sometimes messay, and the thing that gets me most about seeing perfect cupcakes on Pinterest is that I automatically assume that every other thing in that person’s house is perfect too. I never imagine a person who makes perfect cupcakes doesn’t also have all of their color coordinated towels folded perfectly in their bathroom AT ALL TIMES. It’s comforting to know that may not be true. So thank you all for sharing that and helping me feel less inadequate. Helping me embrace my own both/and nature.

  11. I get a lot of this because I’m obsessive about doing things MYSELF so they’re done RIGHT and therefore I wash my laundry by hand and stuff like that.

    So…yeah…I have a Pinterest account full of awesome stuff like how to make your own sprinkles and eco-friendly alternatives to glitter and how to teach preschoolers to discuss and appreciate fine art. And yes, I do that stuff. I can the fancy pickles, and I learn hand sewing stitches for hems and decorative edges, and I knit with beads and tiny yarn I spun myself, and I feed organic homemade fermented scratch to my flock of backyard chickens.

    But my secret is that I pick my battles. I prefer to treat stains rather than have “nice clothes” and “play clothes” and “art clothes” for my little kids. I wash dishes as rarely as I can possibly manage, which is roughly weekly now that I’ve trained the children to wash their own plates and silverware. I NEVER vacuum, I don’t make my kids brush their teeth, and I haven’t folded laundry in five years. My baseboards don’t need cleaning because they don’t get scuffed because we don’t wear shoes in the house. My homeschooled kids don’t have class time or homework or grades or even a curriculum.

    So I actually don’t work any harder than anyone else. I’m just extremely selective about what I expend my energies on, because I’m obsessive about doing things myself. Other people are just as obsessive about other stuff, like having clean cabinet doors and training their children to have only one thing out at a time Montessori-style. It takes all kinds.

  12. Haha really funny post,loved it 🙂

  13. Thank you so much for clarifying because I am one of those Pinteresty moms and I love it. I have done the balloon avalanche, have made my own laundry detergent and spaghetti bread not to mention my own play dough and a fruit fly trap. I have organized my closet by turning my hangers backwards and folded my tshirts just so in my drawers so as to be able to fit more in and see exactly what I have without taking them all out. I love it and won’t apologize for it. And those of us who are Pinteresty love all of you too! 🙂

  14. Amen, Beth! I love this post, I love your heart, I love Pinterest, and I super love that sister-in-law of yours and how she inspires me to choose joy in the little things. She’s the best.

  15. As a teacher I don’t care if your kid has pants with holes or jam on their face but on behalf of teachers everywhere I am going to urge you to try really hard with that semi on time thing. 😛

    Also, Come, Unity? Beautiful.

  16. Confessions: 1) I am a bakey mom. But to counter that bit of spectacular-ness, I’m not a good cleaner of the bakey messes. 2) I LOVE the “Totally nailed Pinterest” posts. Kudos for the attempts at Pinteresty goodness.

  17. Oh my… I have to admit I thought this article would go in a completely different direction – the shaming direction. I’m so thrilled by what you wrote instead.

    I’m an artist, and creating pretty things is not really a choice. For me, it’s a sometimes the only thing that ensures I stay sane when life gets chaotic, and crazy, and difficult to deal with. Baking a cupcake, making a handmade card – and sending it for no reason at all – or painting a canvas; all those things were a part of my identity before I became a mom. Ever since my daughter was born I’ve struggled to figure out how to keep that part of my identity intact, and I think I’ve finally managed it. I surf Pinterest at night, and during the day, while my daughter sleeps – when I could be doing laundry or cleaning the bathroom – I paint, or draw, or scrapbook instead.

    My house is a mess, but I stay sane and happy.

  18. Beautifully written Momrade. 🙂 Love the “come, unity” phrase, will have to start using it instead of my favorite “village” term. Thanks!!

  19. Thank you see I love love love pintrest but by no means I’m I a do All the things mom. See I love to bake and cook pintrest has a million recipes. I also love getting to make things crafty like with or with out my kids. And really i have found that when i get to bake or craft the things i feel less bad about all the areas i don’t do cause uk i hate laundry and with 3 males living in the house there is no way i even attempt to clean the bathroom.

  20. I love this, it’s so so very true. Celebrate our differences!!

  21. Thanks for this! I land somewhere in the middle of the crafty/noncrafty scale. As an arty kind of person, and friend to many legitimate artist-types, I can say that this type of creating is sometimes the lifeline that we use to hang on to the parts of us that exist beyond mom-wife-worker roles. Some of us write blogs to hold on to that part. Some of us run marathons. Some of us work in jobs that we are passionate about. Some of us join the church or community choir or orchestra or theater. Some of us beautify things, or teach Sunday School, or make super-cute teacher gifts that make other people feel appreciated. Together, we all do what we can to maintain sanity and joy.

    1. Also, some of us watch Castle re-runs while we “fold the laundry”.

      1. ‘Cos there’s five different kinds of smiles for Castle!!

  22. I so totally get this. I’m not a Pinterest Mom, but I admire them – even when I’m feeling deficient and defensive and all:

    “Yeah, If I only had ONE child and a rich husband and no job and all the time in the world and a kitchen out of Homes and Gardens… then I, TOO, would make ALL THE THINGS!!!” *sneer*

    Even then.

    And I love, love, love the way they DO all the things, and try and fail and try until it comes out PERFECT and then post their secrets so I, too, can make slightly lopsided Truffala trees from Twizzlers and cotton candy, and One Fish Two Fish Rice Krispie treats, and Cat in the Hat cupcakes with stacked color Lifesaver gummies, and I get to be the HERO to my child’s elementary class on Dr. Suess Day. Even if I forgot and left the House on Mouse crackers on top of the car and they fell off when I backed out of the driveway. Oh well. They didn’t turn out like the picture, anyway.

    I love the Pinterest Moms. Because even though they win more than I do, they make it possible for me to win sometimes. Sort of. In my own little, low expectations kind of way.

    🙂

  23. This is perfect. I’m definitely a both/and type of mom…I have my moments of inspired pinteresty-ness and my days of “dig your school clothes out of the [clean] laundry at the foot of my bed.” It gets frustrating to read on the internets that I’m doing something wrong in my moments of inspired creativity.

  24. Showing my Pinteresty disinterest here, but what’s a table scape?

    1. A tablescape is just decorations (intentionally) set up on a table.

      1. My tablescape is a lovely assortment of mail and dishes. It’s artsy fartsy. Not everyone will get it.

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