There’s a similarity between Motherhood and the Wizard of Oz. For real. With the arrival of a little one you’ve now seen behind the curtain. Many myths are debunked. Many truths are shared. You’ll never be the same.
And let’s face it, much you probably overheard from other mommy friends but you just couldn’t believe it. I won’t be wearing my maternity clothes months after delivery. My baby will be on a sleep schedule from day one. An episiotomy can’t really be that bad. I don’t need a lot of sleep anyway so I won’t need help in the first few weeks.
All things said on the other side of the curtain. But now it’s new terms. New definitions.
A new normal.
As you adjust into your new role there are some unspoken expectations other mothers place upon each other too. Silent mommy codes of conduct if you will. And one of the biggest?
Not out-shining another mother.
Keeping your baby out of the nursery after delivery is shamed when “you should get all the rest you can.” Exclusively nursing elicits some to praise your efforts but is also met with pro-formula talk. Others will respond they couldn’t nurse due to work, their milk not coming in or for many other reasons.
All good reasons.
But sometimes reasons can feel like judgmental responses.
Look we are all surviving these early years in our own way, however nothing prompts an eye roll or “there’s no need to be a s-hero” verbal zinger for going above and beyond when it comes to holidays.
Yes holidays. How we celebrate them, how we decorate for them, how we go all out in having fun with them.
And not just the big ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Although I’ll tell you despite me cursing the Elf on the Shelf about one week into his home invasion, oops I mean home visits, I will still look up Pinterest ideas or follow other creative moms for his next adventure. He will not break me. I will endure and make every morning a magical surprise as they hunt him down or giggle over his naughty nighttime antics.
(Sidenote, I switched our Elf’s visiting hours to only Monday through Friday. He needs to be back at the North Pole spending time with his family every weekend plus making those toys! Buys you up to 8 days of not waking up with the middle of the night panic of “we didn’t move the *%$# Elf!”)
But I love a reason to celebrate – my birthday used to be a month long celebration. I even celebrated my half-birthday (you get a cupcake, not a whole cake, and yes you can score a gift too if you are a conniving only child who knows how to work the parents.) But I digress . . . so I put a lot of thought into holidays year round. But not April Fool’s Day. I hate pranks so to me the devil can have that one!
Growing up with no siblings and as an Air Force Brat contributed to me now loving traditions and centering my world around my loud but lovable family.
It means I love going all out for holidays.
But boy if you look around the blogosphere being all holiday happy is not the “in” thing according to a lot of posts. “Calm down mom” or “Lighten up lady” all seem to be the headlines imploring those like me to take a backseat to holiday planning because the moms who choose not to sprinkle “reindeer glitter” on their yard on Christmas Eve or make a princess throne for birthday breakfast are frankly too tired to plan such shenanigans. And frankly they are tired of our posts detailing our fun.
That being said, I’m lightyears behind those Pinterest Queens with holiday boards of Martha Stewart perfection. I’m not spending a fortune to hear my kids laugh or squeal with delight. This does not keep me up all night planning, nor do I become so unfrazzoled by the great unveil that nobody wants me around. I become just like my kids – joyfully charmed by the magic of imagination.
St. Patrick’s Day is green toilet water, green mustaches drawn on the kids while they sleep, their rooms flipped around by the naughty leprechauns and gold coins and Lucky Charms left out for breakfast.
Easter is first and foremost the celebration of our Savior’s love poured out for us yes. But we also dye Easter eggs and the kids always miss the bunny’s arrival to leave a fun basket of bubbles, some candy and puzzles at the front door.
At Christmas it’s an Advent calendar, decorated house, tree up as soon as possible, Christmas music playing the day after Halloween, holiday cookies decorated all season, Christmas movies non stop. On Christmas Eve the reindeer eat the mix we make just for them and leave pine needles in the house to the delight of my kids. If it’s a white Christmas we make snow angels and snow ice cream while changing ski bibs and mis-matched gloves at least 400 times a day.
Valentine’s Day has never been a favorite of mine so we’ve flipped it to be a day of love shown to one another in the family. My husband takes my daughter out to spend time alone and the boys and I go gobble down frozen yogurt then play at a park. In the morning, I make pancakes in the shape of hearts and cut strawberries in hearts too. Pretty much anytime I can slap, cut, draw or create a heart on something not moving consider it tagged by Cupid! It’s about the only time they get candy in their lunch and to everyone’s delight it’s always a box of candy hearts.
Birthdays are specific moments designed to celebrate that little person and thank God for him or her. I hang streamers in their doorway so it’s on from wake up. It’s the only day you can eat cake for breakfast! We stretch gifts out all day and sing “Happy Birthday” in both the traditional style and Stevie Wonder style every chance we get. It’s a magical day for the birthday guy or gal with calls from their favorite character (alright it’s a dramatic uncle or friend) and dinner is that kid’s favorite.
Did that exhaust you?
Did you nod your head in agreement or eye roll through the paragraphs above?
If it was the later may I ask was it just because we view things differently or did you feel judged?
Did all my effort somehow morph into a wagging finger pointing at you in disappointment? Shaming you somehow for not participating in holidays at my level?
Well here’s a newsflash friend. Another mom really enthusiastic about a mommy win does not translate to you failing. My success at holiday planning does not equate to you being terrible at it. It is not a loss for you. It’s just another perspective.
When I post pictures of my kids excited to find whatever holiday antic I laid out the night before, it’s to share with family living far away. It’s to capture the giggles and the joy on the faces of my children – knowing that getting them to spontaneously laugh in awe will soon just be a memory. Yet the comments I see in response are “oh you’re making me look bad” or “I guess I’m just a loser mom.” I’ve even been part of a thread of friends where some who weren’t into doing holiday silliness were mocking those of us who were and speaking negatively about our innocent fun.
Until we can agree we are all just doing this motherhood thing differently – and nobody wants a Stepford Wife society! – we are going to unintentionally wage a grown up mean girls war.
And the truth is there are probably at least one hundred things I could rattle off that you do better than me. If your kid is younger than 7 and can tie his shoelaces then congratulations, you’ve got me beat. If your kids religiously make their beds or finish their chores without prompting then you are my hero.
We can’t all shine all the time. But we will always glow in the areas that light a fire in our heart. Motherhood is multi-faceted and multi-guilt-inducing. At many turns we wonder if we are doing it all wrong or if we are messing these kids up big time. “Am I raising a serial killer” has crossed my mind a time or two.
What I’d love to see amongst moms who are in community small groups together or those that live on opposite continents is a sense of “good for her” as the first response on reading a social media post or a blog.
A true “you go girl “sentiment shared because someone in that moment is winning at mommy-hood. Because in the grand scheme of life, you’ll have your wins too at some point. And wouldn’t you love to know you have your own built in cheering squad excited that you crushed it in that moment?
I know I sure would.
So I’ll continue with my love of all things holiday and still post pictures. And I’ll try to remember when I get the judging judy eye out for a momma who does life different then I do that a rose doesn’t compare to the rose beside it, it just blooms.
May all the mommas in your circle be sweet, thorn free and bloom together.