Though well into 2011, magazines and holidays seem to bring out 1950s ideology. Color coordinated, gleeful, well-groomed children go through life with their fit, focused parents. Every holiday deserves a craft and decorating scheme, every bedroom a theme, the latter updated seasonally of course. Ethnic meals for Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s Day (even if you’re not Chinese or Irish), hand-appliqued stockings personalized for each family member for Christmas (don’t even think of using last years), recycled/upcycled/hand-crafted wrapping paper licked shut by kittens instead of environmentally damaging tape, experiences instead of chocolates in the Advent calendar, fireworks-shaped fruit platters for the 4th. There’s no shortage of inspiration and desperation. Really, I love it all, I do. And I have been known to throw a mean theme party. And I still totally enjoying throwing my boys birthday parties. But…life gets in the way.
I buy the magazines, I subscribe to the catalogs. I rip out and dog ear the festive, enchanting recipes I’m going to make, instilling a sense of love and childhood memories in my children. And then a kid gets sick. And then they’re well and the other one is down. The dog throws up. The other one licks it up. There’s a field trip to chaperone and an art activity to run at preschool. Damn, I haven’t showered since the weekend!
So while I mean to do all of the amazing ideas presented to me by the marketing and advertising professionals, I often don’t. And then I feel awful. And horrible. And like I’m letting down my kids. That they’ll look back and wonder why we didn’t get around to dying eggs this year, or why I never got the St. Patrick’s wreath up, or why Ground Hog’s Day went uncelebrated. Like my irrational fear of sharks in the swimming pool, I also fear that my non-Pottery Barn Kids existence is somehow depriving my kids of a better, more fulfilling, successful life.
Which is why I was so happy to get my six-year-old son’s Mother’s Day present from school, typed up and laminated. It read:
Your grilled cheeses are the best!
You are as nice as Frank.
You get me really good ribs.
You are really nice to me.
You love me so so much!
Your are the best mom ever!
You smell as good as a rose.
You are as pretty as a rose.
Happy Mother’s Day!
The “best” grilled cheese sandwiches he adores (he told me I should be a professional grilled cheese maker) are of wheat bread, butter and American cheese slices. I am as nice as our Dachshund mix puppy. The ribs I BUY, not make, from the market refrigerator section are good enough to make the list. I’m nice, I love him, I’m the best, and apparently he even thinks I look and smell good.
I quickly realized that it’s all those little things that add up. The grand, festive gestures are wonderful when you can, but no one is going to be scarred for lack of them. I make things he likes, I buy him food he enjoys, I’m as nice as a dog and I love him. Those are the things that matter.