Like most first-time moms, after having my son in 2013 I felt pretty overwhelmed. There were the constant nightime feedings, the diaper blowouts of epic proportions, and the crying for no reason (by both me and my baby). But what really overwhelmed me was the time; there seemed to be not enough of it and too much of it all at once and it was confusing to say the least. I had always had a job since the age of 15, so when I was faced with three months without one, part of me didn’t know what to do with myself.
Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty to do, but at the same time I felt like I had to be doing more, like I needed to prove that I was using the time wisely, that I was managing it efficiently, that I was harnessing every moment of it. And for me not working meant that I had to suddenly become the perfect housewife.
Laundry had to be done, the floor had to be swept at all times, and dinner had to be on the table by the time my husband came home. If these things didn’t happen, (which was frequently as I had a newborn to deal with, duh) I would get upset with myself and then upset with my oblivious husband, who in no way cared or expected these things happen to begin with. He just wanted me to get through the day while I felt the need to prove that I earned my right to stay home. Crazy, I know. But as I have written about earlier, I was still in the desperate search to create my perfect L.L. Bean life.
Eventually, I realized this never was going to happen. And our household was much happier for it.
This is as close to a family shot as we get to these days. And don’t worry: it only appears that my son is waving a huge fork dangerously close to my newborn’s fragile head.
Flash forward to present day: I am currently on maternity leave with my second child, a daughter who is sensitive and sweet, gassy and fussy, and has expanded my capacity to love in ways I never thought possible. Oh, and now I have a toddler to entertain as well.
I hesitate to call this maternity leave easier because I don’t want to create illusions for anyone, however I do believe I am coping with it better than I did my previous one. For me that has to do with letting go.
I’m ignoring the dog hair on the floor, I’m ignoring the laundry, I’m ignoring the need to plan meals. I’m doing my best to let all that go in favor of just being. That means being present for both my daughter and my son, sometimes at the same time, which can be challenging. But the important thing is I’m doing my best.
For my son that means carving out special alone time with him, even if it is just 10 minutes in between my daughter’s crying sessions. For better or worse, I’ve turned to Pinterest for indoor activity inspiration.
I don’t think I need to give anyone a rundown of what Pinterest is and how it glamorizes every aspect of life. I think we all very much get it and are still sucked into it at the same time. We “ooh” and we “aww”, we pin and we like, and we all have a good chuckle at those Pinterest failure pictures.
But after countless Pinterest-inspired activities that I have attempted with my toddler, I have decided that this is the year I am going to fully embrace, welcome, and proudly love what I am calling my Pinterest Failure of a Life.
What does this mean exactly? Well I’m glad I wrote that rhetorical question myself so I can explain it.
We painted this same handprint 3 different times over the course of 3 days. It is now a lovely shade of black.
It means not only do you try your best, but you realize sometimes your best is homemade lasagna and sometimes your best is putting frozen pierogies in the oven and calling it a day.
It means you embrace the mess: the mess that is a dirty sink, the mess that is a dining room table with spilled paint, the mess that is a toddler’s sticky hands, the mess that is you in pajamas at three in the afternoon, the mess that is your beautiful life.
It means you accept the imperfections. Your toddler will want to use his foot (and then his elbow) instead of his hand when making salt dough ornaments. It won’t be pretty. You will be okay. He will insist on eating all the chocolate chips from the cake batter you were trying to make with him and then throw a temper tantrum when he’s not allowed to touch the hot oven. It won’t be pretty. You will be okay. It means you will never get that perfect photo of your accomplishments because sometimes there won’t be anything to show for it. There will be nothing pretty. That is more than okay.
Please take a moment to appreciate the decapitated body my son is responsible for, its head he insisted putting next to the dog, and the person he demanded be put on the roof. Also notice the tiny hands that refuse to give up their grasp on access to sugary goodness. This resulted in a temper tantrum 5 minutes later.
It means recognizing the goodness of what is rather than what could be. Yes, it would be nice to have a gingerbread house that even remotely looks like the one in the staged photo. And it would be even better to have a gingerbread house whose candy decorations weren’t all personally licked by a two year old. But that’s not what is; that’s what could be. What is is the fact that I had the afternoon to spend with my son, a warm & safe home to do it in, and that the activity, however messy and ugly and gross, kept his attention for a whole 34 minutes
Most importantly, it means you are present. You are there in the moment spending meaningful time with people you love not worrying about how it’s going to look on the Internet.
And that’s it. That’s my goal for 2016. By being a badge-wearing Pinterest failure, I am not trying to do more, I’m not trying to do better, I’m just trying to be.
Happy New Year