I don’t even know what conversation brought it to my mind, but for some reason this week I was reminded of my mother dressing up like a peanut for me. The year was 1986, and I was in fourth grade. It was our class’s Field’s Day, where we competed in outdoor athletics with other kids in other grades. We were affectionately called Price’s Peanuts, after our teacher Mrs. Price, but I’m not sure where the peanuts came in.
I didn’t know she was going to do it, and I’m not sure how she managed to keep it a secret. One minute I was standing on the sidelines cheering on my friends, and the next I was marveling at the magnificent creature cresting the hill of our softball field. The sun shown through her arms that rested confidently on her hips, and then in a triumphant celebration of prowess she waved a tiny flag with the letter P emblazoned across its front. Never had I seen a giant peanut/person look so grand!
My mother had taken an egg crate mattress and spray painted it brown, but that was just the beginning of her phenomenal nut costume. Topped with a netted, trucker’s hat, and finished off with larger than life shoes, my Mom arrived to our Field’s Day as our marvelous mascot, spurring us on to victory. All the other kids thought my Maw was so cool, but no one was as proud as me. She was my hero.
My mother was the original Pinterest Mom. She was the creative mother who brought a sparkle to her children’s life with her fantastical ideas and all the little extras. She drew amazing cartoon characters on all my otherwise boring, brown-paper book covers, making me the envy of all my pals. She also decorated my brown sack lunches with a new caricature and comical story every day, creating something much more grand than the ordinary lunchboxes adorned with Smurfs and He-Man that everyone else carried.
My Halloween Party was the best around, and I felt proud as a peacock as my friends sat blindfolded and delightfully frightened while dipping their fingers into the witch’s bowl of eyeballs (peeled grapes), intestines (spaghetti noodles), and children’s bones (thanks KFC). She existed in a world before the internet, where she came up with these fantastical ideas all on her own, not scouring the web and mommy blogs for the perfect party games.
She taught me how to cook from big, Betty Crocker cookbooks, and we rolled out our own Christmas cookies before social media said this was the best way to make memories with your child during the Holiday season. She made reindeer tracks on the roof without the suggestion of Facebook, and left magical evidence of St. Nick’s presence before Elf on the Shelf was required to keep kids interested. She told stories, made up dances and songs, and created fun games without the suggestion of educational sites. But I suppose the most significant thing to me was that she did all these things, and hundreds others I haven’t mentioned, without the necessity to show off her work.
When my mother decorated my room in the most wonderful way for an eight year old, she snapped a photo with her 35mm camera, just one picture that she herself couldn’t see. We waited until the roll of film was full before waiting another three to five days for it to be processed and printed. It didn’t have a filter, and it went straight into her photo album. She didn’t even share it to Facebook! A thing that didn’t exist. She took the photo for her and for me, just like she painstakingly designed my room decor for me. She didn’t do it for the accolades, for the adoration of others, and she didn’t require “likes” to make it feel worthwhile.
My Mom was the original Pinterest Mom before life required pinning, sharing, and the opinion or approval of the masses. She did all the things she did not for her fans or followers, but simply for the pleasure of it. She did the things she did for her children. She did it for the joy of parenting, without the worries of what others thought, and without the binding of other’s opinions. She had the luxury of being able to enjoy the things she did for her children, without the distraction of documenting it for everyone else.
Now, listen, I’m probably the biggest sharer out there, and I love documenting the things my daughters get to experience and see. I love photos, filters, and posting to social media for friends and family far away to see. I’m not as creative as my mother, so I need the help of others on Pinterest and craft blogs. I’m grateful for it, and I don’t judge anyone for doing the very things I do as well. But what I do envy my mother for is a simpler time, a time when she could pour love into her children through her creative tendencies and gifting without worries of what others might think. Everything didn’t have to be picture perfect, and in that somehow everything was perfect. It was perfect to me, and in my cherished memories it is perfectly wonderful.
My Mom could take a photo for herself, just one, not compelled to capture the best one. Then she could simply enjoy the moment. She could bake us the birthday cake she envisioned, not one she thought would photograph well, or one from the baker all the other moms were using. It wasn’t a time that was all about brand names; it was a time all about enjoying your children. She didn’t purchase our clothes with concerns of fitting in or keeping up with The Joneses. She got the stuff she thought was cute. The delightful horrible styles of the eighties and nineties, complete with awful hats at Easter and hideous Christmas sweaters before they were a funny fad. I look back in her photo albums at these pictures with a smile and happy memories, a time when a Pinterest-like mom wasn’t worried about Pinterest Perfection or a Mommy Fail. She just enjoyed what she did, because she loved her children, and there was no pressure to try and be like anyone else.
I try to carry on her memory in style, continuing her legacy. And no, I’ll never be able to draw like her, make up jokes like her, or come up with costumes and ideas like she did. One year she made me a garbage bag for Halloween. It was amazing. But anyway… I don’t mean I carry on her legacy by being as creative and artistic as she was. That’s a level I just can’t obtain. But I do try my best to carry on her legacy by not giving a crap what other people do or think is cool! I strive to do the things I do for my girls because I love them, to do it for them, not because I think I should since Karen does. I try and not compare my mothering to that of anyone else, to not place importance on fads, or attempt the perfection of social media standards.
If I ever appear to be like a “Pinterest Mom,” it’s not for the benefit of anyone else, but simply for my girls. I want them one day to look back on their memories with me like I do with my own mother, smiling at the things we did in joy together, not at the things I forced to be a certain way. Many times I see stressed-out moms doing parties and activities because they feel guilted into it. They believe they must perform a certain way, do certain activities to make their child’s life memorable and grand. Yet in the end it’s the love that truly matters. I don’t smile at memories of my Mom because of the things she did, but rather the reason that she did them. She did all those things out of love, and I reckon as long as your mothering in love then it will always be perfect, whether it’s worth Pinning on a board or not. It will be Pinned in your child’s memory forever, and that’s the most important part.