The idea of a Pinterest mom is simple, really. You spend your free time making Halloween costumes, organizing your home with countless woven baskets, baking healthy meals from scratch and making school lunches filled with cucumbers shaped like flowers and sandwiches shaped like zoo animals. No outing is too small for full makeup and polished hair. You have everything together, and show off your impeccable fashion sense in perfectly curated social media posts. You make weekly trips to your local craft store to stock up on DIY projects you will do with your kids. This is the 21st-century reincarnation of an idea that has been around since the beginning of time.
There are so many women who wish their lives looked more like a page out of a magazine (or social media square). They want their home to be impeccable, all facets of life to be perfect, and be able to do it all (and do it all perfectly). I’m here today to spill the secret of how to evolve into this ethereal being. So want to know how? Step 1: It will not happen 100% of the time. Step 2: Find a new dream.
If this all sounds ridiculous, we can now be friends. The truth is, we may (or may not) have elements of this in all of us. We might be good at one aspect of our lives and struggling in others. To some extent, this insanity goes both ways. I know women who are amazing at certain things but get embarrassed when it is pointed out. Instead of celebrating our accomplishments, we minimize them to avoid feeling boastful or braggy. This shouldn’t be the case either! I have friends who sew their children’s Halloween costumes from scratch. I have friends to make their own snacks. I, myself try and bake when I can. But I also have friends who run out on October 30 to find a Halloween costume for their kids and those who stock up on snacks when there’s a sale at Walmart. Does one or the other make them bad mothers? Absolutely not! Each judge themselves for what they canning can’t do? Probably to some extent.
Truly, though, why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we put so many unrealistic expectations on ourselves, and then feel awful when we don’t live up to them? In theory, we should be happy with our lives and not worry about what others think. But everyone knows that is not actually true. It is so much easier said than done to brush things off and say that we don’t care. Now let me be clear, I do know that some people genuinely don’t care and more power to them. But these women are the unicorns of our society.
So why is the judgement of others so important to us? Why is our happiness affected by how others perceive our accomplishments, and how effectively we have our shit together? As the “judger”, it is a bit easier to explain. The psychology behind this is that we judge one another because we have inadequacies in ourselves. Those who judge others’ decisions are projecting their feelings onto others.
And I can see how this is true, but what does it say about how we judge ourselves? What does it say about how we worry that we will be judged by others? The thinking is a defence mechanism of sorts. We plan for what others might think so we can know how to react. Or we judge ourselves first before anyone else gets a chance to. But why can’t we just be confident and have THAT be projected onto others? Tell anyone who thinks otherwise where they can go….? There is a saying that we are our own worst critics, and this fits well here.
I have come to terms with the fact that I am not perfect. There are areas that I want to improve, for sure. But there is no way I can be everything to everyone. It is just mathematically impossible to give 100% in more than one place. My house will never be spotless (unless I’ve just finished a rage-cleaning binge). My kids will eat pre-packaged snacks. My life will not look like a Pinterest board.
Most days, I am okay with this. I focus on the positives and what I AM able to accomplish on that day. I shrug off my own insecurities and try not to be bothered by others. But other days are darker. I look at others’ social media through green eyes. I am jealous of those who can do more, do better, accomplish things I cannot. I judge myself before others can “get to me”. It creeps into my dreams and wakes me up at night. I have been told by others that I am rather outspoken, sometimes without a filter. That I can share my thoughts with others and I am not afraid of judgement. I can put on a tough shell, and pretend I am invincible. But in reality that is just not the case. What we see is rarely what we get. And I think THAT is the point. I would like to imagine that even “Pinterest moms” have those insecure days. Because it will never be enough and no one will ever truly have it all together, even if it looks that way through our lens. The sooner we realize this, the happier we probably will be.
Social Comparison Theory proposes that we determine our worth by comparing ourselves to others. In fact according to Psychology Today, as much as 10% of our thoughts are comparison in nature. Did that surprise you? There are days when I feel like it’s more… The point is that no one is immune to this struggle and we are all fighting it in our own way. So what is the answer? Just like the secret to becoming the perfect mom – there isn’t one. It is human nature to judge ourselves and compare ourselves to others. That can be a motivator or a deterrent – do we want to use it to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and try something new, or is it worth it to bother? I think that happiness lies not in trying to ignore these comparisons or brush them aside, but in harnessing them and using them to motivate us to be better. To try something new, cook a new dish, read a new book, or redecorate with a new rug – not perfect (because nothing should be), but better.
This is not to say that this is working for me, and I can tell you that it will definitely be easier to adopt this mindset on good days over the darker ones. But, I will give it a try.
This is life. Love, Mom.