We can learn a lot from the Internet, can’t we? Chances are very high that you’re reading this article right now via the Internet—email, social media, a blog. As women, we are surrounded by voices in this new age of “information.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched Google for “how long does it take to boil an egg” and “what to do for a bee sting.” (I know I should know how long to boil an egg. But for some reason, I almost always have look it up.) Don’t judge. I grew up on cereal.
Truly, having access to life online has changed our culture. For the most part, I love it. It’s opened up a world to us that was much harder to reach in 1976. I remember a time when encyclopedia salesmen traveled door to door selling books. I believe I bought a set for my own kids in the early 90’s! The Internet has made that sort of thing obsolete, because we’re getting our “information” from a much broader set of voices now—a new platform of voices, previously unheard.
Today, we can hear from virtually anyone who wants to be heard: from the mini-van mama to the movie star mom and every mom in-between. Most moms want to do the best thing for their kids—and that’s great—but in recent years, I’ve been seeing a new generation of moms who are comparing themselves to a mom who doesn’t exist— the mom who seems to have it all together. It’s easy to open up Facebook or Pinterest and see images of perfect days and fabulous dinners that are airbrushed (literally!) to perfection.
We like to put our best picture forward—but what message are we sending to our kids with all this perfectionism? When we begin to think that everyday life is supposed to be like that, guess what? Our kids miss out on the messy but good stuff of life. I’ve struggled in recent years as a busy mom of two grown daughters and five children still at home to find balance between that “ideal” mom and being a mom who isn’t afraid to let good things go for better things.
To my kids, at least, “better” is not Pinterest perfect. It’s just access to their mom.
This summer, as you get ready to enjoy time off from school with your children, keep in mind that your kids need to see you. They need to interact with you. They don’t want to see your face buried in a computer screen or a smart phone every spare minute. It’s freeing, really, to do the most important thing first. And do you know what that is? It’s your family. You see, kids don’t need a Pinterest Perfect Mom. They need a mom who will be present with them.
They don’t care if you can braid their hair into the Eiffel tower, or if you have “fans” on Facebook. They want you to pay attention to them. In the end, it will be the simple things that will make the biggest impression on your children. I didn’t have a perfect childhood, but when I think back, the things I love to remember were the days mom took us to the lake for the day. I remember she made terrible fudge but she let me do it with her. I remember the totally NOT perfect pillow case she embroidered with me and the summer days we ate Cheerio’s for dinner after sliding down a sheet of plastic in our back yard for hours on end. I remember climbing the walnut tree with my grandma (yes, my grandma) and the no-bake oatmeal “fudges” mom brought out while we sat in that tree.
It wasn’t remotely worthy of “Pinning” and it’s likely that it would not have caught anyone’s eye, but it caught my heart. I don’t think kids today are much different.
I’m still a fan of Pinterest, but I’m learning to use it responsibly. Kids don’t need perfection, they need permission to be kids—and moms set the tone for childhood memories.
Enjoy your kids this summer! The memories you make may never be worthy of a pin but they will make the biggest impression where it counts the most: on the hearts of your kids.
Blessings, Heidi St. John, The Busy Mom