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In Defense of June Cleaver

Photograph by Getty Images

“Sammy,” my stepdaughter Chloe asked me as she wandered into the kitchen. “What are you doing?”

I had set out our jars of flour and sugar, along with sticks of butter, eggs and chocolate chips. “Getting ready to make some cookies,” I told her. “Remember? You said you wanted to make some today.”

“I thought you made cookies by breaking them off of those big sheets and just putting them on a pan,” she said, toying with the set of measuring spoons.

I smiled, “Well sure, baby. You can make them that way. Lots of people do, but I like to make mine from scratch.”

She stood there for a few more seconds, looked at all of the ingredients and said, “My teacher says that if you make things from scratch, you’re an overachiever.”

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I took a deep breath. “You know what, Chloe? I hear that a lot. People tell me all the time that I’m an overachiever and that I make things too hard because I’m trying to impress someone. But I like making cookies from scratch. This is one of my favorite things to do, and I really don’t care if someone calls me an overachiever.”

But oh, I do. I totally care.

I hate that people call me an overachiever. The man cutting my fabric at the fabric store wanted to know why I didn’t just buy Halloween costumes. “What are you doing,” he began, laughing, “trying to one-up all the other moms? Are you just too good for store-bought costumes?” Oh, he thought it was all one big joke, but inside, I seethed.

Am I not allowed to like making Halloween costumes? Am I not allowed to prefer cookies made from scratch instead of premade dough? Am I not allowed to enjoy the extra work I do for the sake of memories?

We don’t do it because we have to, or because we think we’re better than you.

I grew up with a mom who made our Halloween costumes and always baked cookies from scratch. She was willing to put up with a mess so that we could have picnics in the living room. She spent hours doing crafts with us, crocheting our own personal blankets and decorating our rooms like they were going to be photographed. Was she an overachiever? No. She just really loved doing all of those things. She didn’t do them to be the “perfect mom” or so our friends would be jealous. She did it because she liked it and because she wanted to. That’s the kind of mom I want my kids to remember.

There’s nothing wrong with buying premade cookie dough. I don’t care one bit if you want to buy your kid’s Halloween costume. It doesn’t matter to me! Your kid’s going to be just as happy as my kid. Some parents aren’t into the “extra” work, but I am. People say that things like Pinterest and all of these “homemade blogs” are putting mothers who don’t like those kinds of things to shame. I disagree. If you don’t like crafting or baking or sewing, who cares? Do something else with your kids! I’m not really a fan of yard work, but I don’t insist that every mother out there landscaping a gorgeous garden with her kids is trying to one-up me.

I just ask her if she charges a reasonable fee and if she’d like to come pull all of my weeds, too.

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So, in defense of June Cleaver, leave us “overachieving” moms alone. We don’t do it because we have to, or because we think we’re better than you. We do it because we like it.

Although, if I start wearing heels in the kitchen tell me to cut it out, OK? It’ll only take me two seconds to topple over into my preheated oven.

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