When I first stepped into the role of motherhood, I was a tightly wound ball of stress and worry. Was my baby eating enough? Would he choke on that new toy? Did Grandma wash her hands before she picked my child up? The list of endless fretting went on for days. This was around the same time that I had discovered Pinterest and fell in love with the world of glittery DIY. The only problem? I was terrible at it.
I dutifully saved toilet paper rolls and glass babyjars to create timeless keepsake decorations that I could proudly display on my mantle and bookcase, but each time I plugged in my hot glue gun or went diving to my bucket of rainbow coloured buttons I would come up for air and realise that I suck at craft. It was weirdly frustrating and stressful. I was clearly missing the domestic bliss gene.
Lately, I have been reminiscing about those early days of being a mum, staying home with my small kids, and whittling away the afternoons with paper plates and finger paint. From where I stand today, with the wear and tear of parenting bigger kids weighing on me, it is clear that I missed the point of my days filled with Pinterest fails. See, being a Pinterest fail mum was so much easier.
My days now are filled with worry about how to pay for the assembly line of school fees and fundraisers and volunteer work. My kids keep getting sick thanks to whatever fun new version of gastro is floating through school. Our dog, now aging, is getting sick and slow and the vet bills are piling up. My husband and I are tired and worn down and need some alone time, but there is none to scrounge up.
You could say that I have earned these grey hairs that appear to be sprouting from my head at breakneck speed. As my children grow so, too, do my fears and responsibilities. Parenting just gets more complicated and I am here feeling pretty sure that no one really knows that truth until they are living it.
Yesterday, after a long struggle with my oldest to get through homework (OMG, kill me, please) and after the dishes were done and the nightly round of negotiating to convince everyone to get their butts in bed at a reasonable time, I found myself pulling out my hot glue gun. It has been sitting untouched in a craft box for the better part of seven years. I turned my phone on, tapped on Pinterest, and scrolled through the beautiful DIY boards filled with ambitious projects that promised to fill my house with lovely creative ways to display my children’s art and cute sayings about needing love and laughter for a happy life.
I chose a simple project that asked me to gather some burlap, a mason jar, a ribbon, and a candle to “add a meditative glow” to my kitchen counter. As I started cutting the burlap and ribbon to be glued around the outside of the mason jar, I started to laugh in that weird melancholy way as my thoughts drifted to my early days of parenthood when doing these silly crafts felt like a mission, but now feel more like a therapeutic way to chill the fu*k out.
I didn’t finish my meditative glowing candle. But I did sit there in the quiet of my kitchen and slowly moved through my memories of being a new mum. I felt somehow satisfied that even though parenting has become more complex, I am grateful for the new stressors. In some ways, they signal that my constant hawk-eyed watch on the goal of being a great mum has never changed, it has just evolved from fretting over what a Pinterest fail says about me, to what my insisting on being involved in my children’s schooling and extracurricular activities says about me.