Friday, February 13, 2015

Curse of the Valentine's Box

I feel like I've said this before but here it is again: Pinterest is killing me. K-I-L-L-I-N-G me. And I know all my fellow non-crafty friends feel the same way.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am thoroughly impressed with all you crafters out there who can paint and create and build and bake amazing things that you see on Pinterest. It's incredible how you can see something and then recreate it perfectly.

Take, for instance, the Valentine's box. This week, Facebook has been full of pictures of robot boxes and monster boxes and Lego boxes and animal boxes and even a gum ball box. Truly amazing. But obviously, most of these were completed without the help from a four-year old's grubby little hands. I mean, honestly, parents. Who are you trying to impress? I get it. If the kid makes the box, that's great. But why do we, as parents, feel the need to create or even "fix" something our children make?

What ever happened to the good ole days when teachers supplied a brown paper bag and students colored it and decorated it during art time? Now kids bring such elaborate "boxes" that they need help just carrying them into school. It has become a competition, and life is competitive enough without this added pressure of who has the coolest Valentine's box.

This isn't really about Valentine's boxes, though. And frankly, I've been known to go a little over the top with cupcake decorating and party planning in the past. But listen: this is about our hearts. How we feel about ourselves. Do we need to have the biggest and best _________ (fill in the blank) in order to feel complete? Or so that others will admire us? So they will think we're perfect?

Life can be tough. And very competitive. And honestly, I thought that competition and cliques and trying to outdo others would end after high school. In some ways, it did. But in other ways, life is even more difficult and competitive as a mom. We put ridiculous pressure on ourselves and (knowingly or unknowingly) on others.

I, for one, already feel inadequate enough without the added pressures of other moms and what they project.

"Oh, your kids like to eat brownies? There is too much sugar in brownies."

"I never give my kids juice. They only drink water."

"Those goldfish crackers are terrible for you!"

"You need this supplement to make your children healthy."

"They watch how much television each day?"

"Homeschooling/public school/private school is the best way to educate your kids."

"Oh, you're still in your yoga pants this afternoon?"

I could go on and on.

As much as I try not to, I can sometimes get caught up in this mess. I can allow myself to feel bad about decisions I make for our family. It's easy to do. Just look at Instagram or Facebook: perfection is everywhere. Perfect kids, perfect husbands, perfect skin, perfect hair. Perfect families. It's easy to forget that no one's life is perfect. Everyone struggles. And if you're a mom, you probably struggle on a daily basis. Isn't raising children in this day and age hard enough without the added pressure we put on ourselves when we view our "perfect" friends on social media?

And listen, I'm guilty too. I want to portray my life as grand and wonderful because it is. But it's also messy, and I fail a lot. I hope you can see by reading my blog that my life is far from perfect. My kids aren't perfect, my husband isn't perfect, and (gasp!) I'm not perfect either.

But hallelujah, we weren't made to be perfect! We were created to love God, worship Him, and try to love others like He loves us. Instead of judging each other and feeling discouraged by other moms, let's strive to lift each other up. Encourage one another.

Let's encourage each other by speaking "only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Eph 4:29b)

This week, instead of portraying your perfection, try being real to those around you. Show your struggles, your worries, your failures. You might be surprised to find that you're not alone.

And listen, about those Valentine's boxes... Keep making special memories with your kids; just make sure you aren't trying to impress anyone.

And make sure they aren't perfect. 😘