If you are a parent or have many Facebook friends who are parents, you’ve more than likely seen an article in your newsfeed titled, “I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical”. It was probably sandwiched between all the other parenting articles like “Top 5 Reasons Why Your Kid Will Need Therapy One Day” and “Top 5 Reasons Why You Suck in General”.
While I respect this author (Bunmi Laditan) and her belief that the pressure put on parents these days have reached an obscene level of ridiculous (I agree), this article also left me feeling a different pressure that she probably didn’t realize she’d created. I actually felt guilty that I engage in a lot of what she implied was ridiculous and unnecessary. So ironically, I felt pressure to STOP what comes natural and easy to me. To stop making my own decorations for my kids’ bday parties, to stop taking them to Disney, to stop doing crafts with my kids, and to essentially stop being a rainbow for a second (such is Mango!). SNL? Chris Kattan? Anyway, the point is, and I think I’m going to make one eventually, is that parenting is not a one size fits all gig.
The author states in her article that she didn’t have one memory of doing crafts with her parents along with the subtle argument that the real magic of childhood should be discovered and not created. But what about those of us who do have those memories? My mom was a crafter. She made things. She was the 80’s queen of puffy picture albums and decorative baskets (yes, that was a thing). I used to sit with her and watch her spin a web of magic with the trigger of her glue gun. MAGIC. She crafted for me, my teachers, random people she’d meet and with whom she felt a connection (really). That was her. The magic was how she created something that brought enjoyment for someone, and in turn, enjoyment for her. Birthday parties? Please. Nobody makes a balloon and curly ribbon cluster quite like my mom. It’s her trademark and it’s still magical to me. These, along so many others, are memories that I cherish. Were they contrived to make my childhood magical? No, they just are. They will always just be. I don’t analyze them. I’m just happy I have them.
As for me, I have this often insatiable need for a creative outlet as I would suspect many right brainers do. I can’t sew, I am not a musician, I don’t write poetry, nor do I have any artistic talent whatsoever (tear). My creative appetite is more of the childish and pointless nature. Before my temporary job as a stay at home mom, I was all in as an elementary school teacher- ’nuff said. Confession: I LIKE Pinterest. I often use Pinterest for inspiration when it comes to teaching, my kids’ birthday parties, and for everything decorative that doesn’t NEED to be decorative. Don’t believe me? I just spent 30 minutes constructing a miniature birthday hat for a toy dinosaur (that I spray painted gold) for my daughter’s upcoming 3rd birthday party that only my family will see. Here’s the kicker: I didn’t feel one SMIDGEN of pressure from anyone to do this nor do I think it makes me or anyone else a good mom. The reason is simple: I like this shit. It’s fun.
Pinterest is not the devil. It did not make me this way, I was already like this. I was the girl who decorated her brown paper textbook covers with puffy paint and glitter and then sprinkled some on my face for good measure (glitter not puffy paint). It’s what I did. It’s what I do. And now, it’s what I do with (and for) my kids.
Parenting for me has become a delicate balance of doing what comes natural and doing what random articles tell to do when I Google things like, “Why does my 2year old hate me”. I take all articles I read with a grain of salt. I realize that everyone is coming from a different place when it comes to their parenting philosophies (big and small). I do not feel the need to keep up with the Joneses and I don’t feel the need to be magazine perfect. Although I do love me some Pottery Barn magazines, but they go straight in the trash after I spend a significant amount of time drooling over the stuff I cannot financially justify. Everyone has their thing. I haven’t showered in three days but I’ve already finished the adorable Valentines my kid will be taking to school next MONTH, but please know that my choice is not a criticism of yours (don’t quote me on that- I think I stole it from something).
As far as theme parks are concerned, I can relate to Laditan. My parents didn’t take me to “the happiest place on earth” either, which, I may add, is total BS considering I grew up in ORLANDO, FLORIDA and is also the reason I take my kids just about every other weekend. In addition to “manufactured contrived magic”, my kids also make plenty of sparkling magic the good old fashioned way: through books, story telling, imagination, games, playing in the backyard, you name it. I mean what do you think they do while I spend hours writing blog posts that only 15 people will read?! It’s all a balance. We ALL want our kids’ childhoods to be magical don’t we? We all want to be awesome for our kids. We all find our own niche and work with what make us tick. Whether you hand paint dinosaurs that nobody will care about for a bday party or slap a piece of Papa Johns on a plate and call it a day, it has no bearing on your parenting whatsoever. However, what makes your kids’ childhoods *magical* is something you won’t know until they’re not children anymore and they are able to tell you all about the memories that remain magical to them as adults. I bet that feels pretty sweet.