When I was a kid (and actually all the way up until I had kids of my own) my grandma sent me a card for Valentine’s Day.
Her cards always had some sort of treat taped inside, like a quarter or one stick of Wrigley’s gum in the foil wrapper, as well as a little message written in pictures.
You know, like an eye + a heart + U.
It wasn’t a big deal, but it always made my day.
I always thought I’d do the same thing for my kids.
But in reality, I don’t.
I really want to. But for one reason or another (and sometimes even for no real good reason) I have not been able to get my shit together.
So this morning, I woke up, and as I normally do, I checked out what was going on on Facebook.
Before you read any further, let me be clear.
THIS IS NOT A MOM BASHING POST.
THIS IS NOT A MOM BASHING POST.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
So anyway, this morning my Facebook feed was full of a bazillion Valentine’s Day posts.
I saw kids dressed in red from head to toe. I saw strawberries cut into heart shapes on sticks. I saw heart-shaped pancakes with candy heart faces on them. I saw breakfast tables set to the nines.
I so badly wanted to be one of those moms this year.
I sincerely did.
But I wasn’t.
And upon seeing these pictures, I was immediately overcome with guilt. Like really bad guilt.
Much worse than ever before.
It was kind of irrational.
I’m not sure why.
Maybe because now that all the kids are in school I thought I’d be more on the ball?
In any case, I started to beat myself up.
Then I realized how ridiculous I was being, and I stopped myself.
Because it’s okay.
It’s okay if I didn’t get it together this year. And the year before that. And the year before that.
It’s okay if I don’t do anything next year, and it’s okay if I never get the Valentine’s Day thing together for my kids.
I’d love for them to have the memories I have of those cards my grandma sent me.
But my kids don’t need them. It won’t make them better people, and doing something special for my kids on Valentine’s Day doesn’t make me a better mom, just as doing nothing for them wouldn’t make me a worse one.
And it’s not like I’m not giving them other really awesome memories.
I think it’s GREAT if you do something special for your kids on Valentine’s Day.
I honestly envy you, and I do aspire to be like you one day.
I think my kids would have loved to wake up this morning to a special breakfast laid out on the dining room table, or even just a special note in their lunch box.
But they didn’t.
I knew if I was feeling guilt, there were plenty of other moms out there who were feeling the same thing. Moms who were beating themselves up and shoulding on themselves.
So after briefly semi-losing my mind over Valentine’s Day this morning, I snapped out of it, wrote this, and posted it on Facebook:
I could have listed all the reasons I didn’t make it happen.
There are plenty.
But it doesn’t matter.
I don’t really need a laundry list of reasons to justify why I didn’t do anything special for my kids today. Just as my friends who did something special don’t need to be made to feel like they have to justify why they did.
Of course I was inevitably told I was a shitty mom by someone who felt the need to leave a comment alerting me to this fact.
I’m used to it by now.
But this is where Facebook becomes dangerous.
Because we see these kinds of posts, and it’s scary how quickly we go straight to Holy shit. I’m a total failure.
Then some judgmental sanctimommy has to post a douchey comment, and moms who are feeling particularly vulnerable are really affected.
And these posts by moms who appear to have all their ducks in a row are where it gets bad for the moms who are in the throes of parenting. The moms who are overwhelmed. The moms who are new at this and unsure and questioning their every move.
If you are one of those moms, remember this…
For every super cute and envy-inducing picture you see your friends posting on Facebook, they have at least twice as many fucked up and dysfunctional ones they could have shown to the world.
But who wants to show that shit?
We each have our own things we are good at, and we each have our own things we like to do.
For some of us, that’s doing something special on holidays.
For other people, it’s something else.
I recently saw another picture a friend posted on Facebook where she went snowshoeing with her family in a recent snowstorm.
And my first thought wasn’t Wow! What a great thing for that family!
It was, Holy shit. I need to add snow shoeing to the list of things I need to do in order to be a good mom.
That’s so dumb!
We all have our strengths. They are all different.
Some of us like the crafty stuff. Some of us like outdoorsy stuff. Some of us like indoorsy stuff. Some of us like hiking stuff. Some of us like cooking stuff. Some of us like theatrical stuff. Some of us like warm weather stuff. Some of us like cold weather stuff…
We all like different stuff!
We don’t tell our kids that because their friend is super into gymnastics that they should be too, right!
So take it easy on yourself.
You do some cool shit with your kids. It just might be different cool shit than what many of your Facebook friends do.
And you don’t have to show a picture of it to prove it. (But it’s okay if you do).
Sometimes the stars align and you have plenty of time to do those things that you enjoy doing.
Other times you have had at least one kid home sick for the last seventeen consecutive school days, you have been cleaning up snot and puke and shit for three weeks, and Valentine’s Day or whatever else that thing is that you like to do is the last thing on your mind.
(And yes. Number 4 is the most recent casualty, and it has been seventeen (fucking) consecutive school days of someone being home sick and I’m ready to burn my house down and build a new, uninfected one).
Whether your kids have been sick or not, whether you are into it or not, whether the stars have aligned or not, if you are feeling guilt or if you are shoulding on yourself…
You are not the only mom who didn’t do anything special for her kids (or husband — I didn’t even mention that one) on Valentine’s Day.
And even if you were, it would still be okay.
Because life goes on, your kids know you love them, and special valentines or not, you are giving your kids what they need, and you are doing a great job.