A couple of years ago, I had to stop reading design blogs because they were making me feel bad about myself. I’d look at the pretty photos of their pretty families and their pretty meals and their pretty rooms and, well, it’s hard not to feel like a bit of a loser when the only things you’ve got on your walls is your kid’s Sharpie art when you were trying to take a shower that one day. Of course, the design-y folks would probably pop a frame around it on the wall and get 40,000 hits on their “DIY Kids Wall Art” tutorial.
With the rise in popularity of Pinterest, I know I’m not the only one who’s experiencing a bit of inadequacy. OK, maybe a lot.
And it’s not just the gorgeous crafts and recipes, or the fabulously stylish outfits. I mean, I get that people have hobbies and enjoy those sorts of things. And as much as I’m good at, say, “writing a blog post” or “cooking boxed macaroni and cheese,” there are people who are good at other things, like decorating their kids’ room like a Martha Stewart magazine layout.
But, seriously, who has the time to make a craft out of an old tape dispenser? If I had that time, I’d be sleeping or catching up on Downton Abbey.
This culture of perfection isn’t a new thing, with the Vogue, Glamour and Real Simple magazines of the world enthralling us with their perfectly coiffed hair, makeup and kitchen pantries. God, those sexy kitchen pantries.
Because if they’re parents like us and they can do all that, then why can’t we?
But they were always a bit unattainable. We knew there were stylists and assistants and interns running around to produce the final outcome and, so in a way, we could pat ourselves on the backs—us “regular old folks”—and know that if we had the same sort of entourage we could do the same.
However, now with the blogs and Pinterest pins from parents like us, it’s hard not to see our own inability and deficits staring back at us in those perfect photos. Because if they’re parents like us and they can do all that, then why can’t we? Are we somehow taking away from our own kids’ experience because we pack them peanut butter and jelly with the crusts on and not the bento box with a sandwich shaped like a whale?
I’m the first to admit that it’s easy to get enticed by the beauty of it all, and worse, to think that our children are somehow missing out on life because we’re not turning their artwork into gorgeous photo collages or throwing them parties with handstitched banners.
But then I remind myself that we’re only seeing a snippet of their lives, a photoshopped, art-directed moment in time that took the help of many people, and lots of time and energy. And my children are no worse off that the child wearing the duct tape vest. In fact in some ways, they might be better. Because instead of me spending my time trying to keep up, I’m giving it to them. Even if it’s just me and them laughing at bad knock-knock jokes over breakfast for dinner.