Last week, my friend Kristen wrote a tongue-in-cheek post on her blog about being a bit overwhelmed by the spectacle holidays have become. It struck a chord with tons of people, with some firmly agreeing with her and others finding themselves offended. I read her post with the added benefit of actually being friends with Kristen – I could hear her voice when I was reading it, and I knew her exact intention. That being said, I do understand why people reacted so strongly one way or the other.
Compared to when I was growing up, every single holiday nowadays is a huge spectacle. A lot of parents go all out. FULL DISCLOSURE, I am one of those parents sometimes. Crafting huge parties is my love, and I get immense pleasure from throwing crazy fiestas for my daughter and my friends. Of course, my kid isn’t in school, so I don’t have to compete with the expectations/activities of others, but for parents of school age kids it must suck. Also, if parents aren’t crafty or into that kind of thing, it especially sucks. So I get it.
But here’s the thing. Parents who aren’t crafty or holiday oriented are good at other things that those who ARE crafty are not. The non-crafty parents might be putting all of their energy into cooking gourmet meals from scratch, teaching an instrument, whatever. And you can bet that the kids of the crafty parents are running home and saying, “Timmy’s mom made him a home cooked meal every day last week” or “Sally’s mom taught her guitar, why don’t you play?” Every kid will be wanting their mom or dad to be more like a friend’s parent in one way or another. And that’s okay! This is a hugely important lesson for kids to learn. Someone is always going to excel at something amazing, or have something better, or or do something more exciting. As parents, we have to manage our kids’ expectations and teach them to appreciate the things that are amazing in their own lives, not in someone else’s.
This doesn’t make it any easier to hear our kids complain about the areas they feel we parents lack in, but this is where I want to take Kristen’s battle cry and repurpose it a bit: Let’s bring it down a notch. And by “it,” I mean the pressure we put on ourselves to be these unrealistically amazing parents who can do it all. When your kids come home and ask why you don’t do something like Timmy or Sally’s mom, instead of getting upset, point out what you do that’s amazing and then do it. If you love going crazy at the holidays, do it! If you love crafting elaborate meals from scratch for your family, cook away! If you adore sewing your kids’ clothing, sew on! Focus on what you do best, and share that with your kids. Of course we want to make them happy, but we also have to make ourselves happy.
Also, if you’re someone who cooks gourmet meals from scratch, can I come over?