Don’t Judge Me, Pinterest Moms
When my first baby turned one I was that mom who had planned the party for months and had a secret Pinterest board full of ideas. I’m not kidding, I literally spent hours pinning decorations, cakes, and décor. My car was on autopilot as I drove to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby in the weeks leading up to the big event. Amazon Prime was my best friend and UPS was delivering things for the party on an almost daily basis.
I had a lot of fun and in the process I learned that I was craftier than I had given myself credit for. My parents had come to visit, and I’ll never forget my mom and I staying up until 3 am the night before the party making sure that we had everything finished and just perfect. Even though our guest list included only grandparents, great grandparents, and my best friend and her husband, I was anxious for every detail to be perfect. The party did turn out great and I had a happy one-year-old who had no idea that his mama had gone completely overboard. In fact, his mama also didn’t realize that…yet.
Fast-forward two years and I found myself with a sweet baby girl who would be turning one. Again, I had started planning well in advance and the Pinterest board was exploding with fun, new ideas. My baby only turns one once and I wanted to make sure that I gave her a party that would fully celebrate her milestone.
Well, things didn’t go exactly how I had planned. Not even close. We had been out in Oregon visiting my family for Christmas and New Year’s when it started snowing. The problem is that this beautiful snow just kept coming down. By the time all was said and done it had snowed over 30 inches and we were unable to get back to Minnesota as scheduled. We were stuck in Oregon for one week longer than we had planned and my already tight timeline for working on a mid-January birthday party evaporated into the cold winter night.
I had so many things I needed to do and I had less than a week once we were finally able to return home. It was going to be difficult, if not impossible, to pull off the birthday party I had been planning in my head. For goodness sakes, all of the Christmas decorations were still up and I would need to dedicate an entire evening to trying to scramble like a mad woman putting everything away. After being away from home for three weeks, just getting reorganized would be a challenge. The panic was real – but I convinced myself that I could just stay up until the wee hours every night and knock it all out. Sleep is over-rated, right?
When it rains, it pours. While I was home in Oregon my sweet great aunt fell ill. Just three days after I returned to Minnesota, and four days before my daughter’s first birthday, she passed away. My great aunt was like a second grandma to me and there was no way I was going to miss her funeral. I wanted to be there to say goodbye and be with my family.
Once again I found myself on a plane to Oregon. With my travel plans in place, I realized it was time to cancel the Pinterest-y party I had envisioned, save the ideas for her second birthday, and enjoy a simple gathering when I returned. On one hand, the loss of my Auntie put things into perspective, but on the other hand, I felt like I had failed at my job as a mom and had let my baby girl down. Thankfully, the negative thoughts didn’t last very long. Circumstances had changed, I needed to be flexible (which does not come easy to me), and give myself grace.
Then I thought about the motives behind planning a big first birthday party. I don’t want to step on toes here, but it hit me: was I really doing this for my daughter – who won’t remember or know the difference – or for myself? Have too many of us moms succumbed to the Pinterest model, with self-imposed standards based on the photos we see on social media, and even become somewhat competitive about birthday parties of all things? During the frenzy of preparing for my son’s first birthday, my mom had reminded me of the parties we had when I was a kid, and asked if I really thought the hours I was spending on preparations were necessary. Silly Mom!! Two years later, I gave that question more serious reflection. I certainly had fun at my birthday parties, long before parties became Pinterest and Instagram sensations. Then I thought back to my son’s first birthday party. Although I was really excited and the decorations and food turned out just as I had planned, the truth of the matter is that he doesn’t even remember it. It’s not like he comes up to me and talks about his first birthday or reminisces about the decorations and cake. And honestly, I spent so much time and energy making sure that every detail was perfect that I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the moment. Wow. Why would I do that again?
My baby girl won’t love me any less or even remember that I didn’t throw her a birthday party that would have Instagram on the verge of crashing. Don’t get me wrong, I think milestones are special and worth celebrating. The day after I returned from Oregon, the four of us had a small party on my daughter’s real birthday. We enjoyed every moment! This week we will have another party with a few more family members and she will have a cute store-bought (GASP!) smash cake and open her gifts. I haven’t spent weeks going crazy over it. I won’t need to take out a new line of credit. And if circumstances allow, next year when she turns two, maybe I’ll make a few decorations and have time to bake a homemade cake. But my focus will be on doing something she will enjoy, along with a promise not to be that stressed-out, over-worked, Pinterest-crazed mama. Instead of feeling guilty, or getting trapped in the worry that other moms are judging me for not throwing a huge birthday bash, I have enjoyed the encouragement of amazing friends and family who have given me a lot of positive feedback regarding my new plan.
Please know that my heart is not to condemn the moms who truly enjoy and have the time to throw over-the-top first birthday parties, but rather to encourage moms that they don’t need to feel like less of a mom if they keep things simple. As moms we should be rooting each other on through the trenches of motherhood.