Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Let's Bring the Holidays (and the Mommy Wars) Down a Notch

Have you read this yet?  It's Rage Against the Minivan's blog post, Let's Bring the Holidays Down a Notch.  It's a short little read with over 600 comments, apparently because the post touched a nerve and ended up being reposted via Facebook and other online sources.

It's interesting to me on so many levels.  Kristen (the original blogger) shares how frustrated the holidays make her feel because her kids have huge expectations for them.  For example, her children were disappointed because no leprechaun visited their house on St. Patrick's Day.  (And one of them stomped off and threw a fit.  Oh the horrors!  She should come visit this joint...)  And she finds it a tad annoying that other parents go over the top with gifts/school treats.  (Can you say "50 pieces of Chinese made trinkets stuffed into a plastic gift bag for Valentine's Day?")  She brings up newly invented holidays like the 100th day of school and Pi Day.  Lastly, she calls out other parents (to some degree) and encourages them to stop the madness that they might be perpetuating regarding the holidays.

Was I offended by her post?  No.

Do I understand some of her feelings?  Certainly.  (I mean, Zeke's daycare had Valentine's for the 2 year olds.  Why?  I have no idea.  I also personally do not enjoy the constant stream of crap that comes into my child's lives via goodie bags, the bank, the doctor's office, etc.)

But I can't say I think the post actually served her well, especially since she shared a homemade Valentine that her littlest made which appears to be an accidental, pretty funny, but literal "FU" to what she describes as the overachieving parents who are participating in the holiday madness.  (Yes, I get sarcasm and humor; I just think you have to be careful with what you say online.)

Realistically, I think it's time for moms in general to turn it down a notch in terms of behavior and attitudes.  It is not the holidays that are the issue; it's us.  Yes, I didn't like the Valentine party for the 2 year olds and yes, I think a holiday goodie bag is just a pile of junk destined for my trashcan.  But I can deal with it without ranting and raving, without blaming others for my children's behavior, and without judging the motives of others.

In fact, it's not even Kristen's original post that I found most interesting.  It was the 600 plus comments that she received.  That is where you see the real indictment of how we as moms sometimes handle life.  The majority agreed with Kristen, that all of this was over the top and too much.  Many felt like those moms who did over the top things were doing so out of competitiveness or a chance to one up other moms.  Many cited Pinterest as an evil used only  by those who have the dreaded Super Mom syndrome.  Others blamed the schools for encouraging kids to believe in fictional things like the Easter Bunny or leprechauns.  Few were willing to say "This is about me being comfortable with who we are as a family and the choices we make."  Few were willing to not blame others, to allow their kids to walk through a bit of disappointment once they learned that they would not be setting leprechaun traps of their own.  A handful of people shared why they celebrate holidays with big things, from those who did so because it brought them joy as parents, to those who said it let them express their creativity, to those who said it was about creating memories with their kids.  And of course, there were the down right catty responses from essentially telling Kristen to get off her computer, out of the blogosphere and into her kids' lives.  (Terribly rude especially when you have idea about what Kristen does with her children since you do not personally know her.)  Or those who said things like if you don't like your kids hearing about leprechauns at school,just homeschool.  (Because I'm sure all the homeschooling families out there want to be viewed as families who simply could not handle leprechauns.)

I think what spoke to me most about this was I just saw a lot of moms struggling with the same type of confusion that grips many women from the time they are about ten.  It's the idea of questioning if what we are doing is good enough, if we measure up and how we can do more.  At the heart, I think that's what Kristen is trying to say even though I'm not sure that part stands out loud and clear.  Moms have to stop competing.  They have to stop comparing.  They have to stop jumping on one crazy bandwagon to the next all in an attempt to keep our kids happy.

It's the idea of do what blesses not what burdens.  (Love those words, stolen from a recent Beth Moore Bible study.)  And then shut up.  Decide who you are and what you value as a mom and then don't spend the next hour inspecting the lives of other moms, looking for reasons why you made a bad choice.  Or looking for a reason that indicates that other moms have made a bad choice.  Do what blesses not what burdens.

1 comment:

Amber said...

I read RatM regularly and I was taken a little aback at that post as well. And I remembered her post about making valentines with her kids and thought it was pretty ironic too. Even though I usually enjoy her posts, I think you did a great job summing it all up much better than she did, and I'm going to try to remember, and apply, your takeaway message: blessing instead of burdening, and then shut up.
Amber at www.thekwajbates.blogspot.com