If you've been anywhere on the Internet in the past few years, you may have noticed that more and more sites are inviting you to follow them on the social media network Pinterest. Here users create "boards" and search through thousands of "pins" on subjects that interest them and save images to create their own series of digital bookmarks.
The site is wildly popular and has been instrumental in helping businesses, and bloggers, reach their target audience. I would venture to say that a large majority of this target audience is women in general, and mothers more specifically.
Before I go on, let me just say that I myself have spent way too much time on this site. I once scoffed at the way the "P" word seemed to end up in any conversation with my mom friends, but then I created an account and happily started storing up all of the things I insisted I would read, make, and do. But herein lies the problem, letting perfectly posed photos tell us what we need to read, make, and do to be a good mother, and feeling like a failure when we can't live up to these expectations.
It's so easy to scroll through beautifully lit photographs and tell myself that I will most definitely be making 101 Fun Toddler Winter Crafts, followed by 99 Healthy Frozen-Themed Snacks, then reading 25 Best Books for Happy Kids, and ending my day with The Healthiest Crockpot Meal Ever Made-No Wheat, Dairy, Sugar, Gluten, Soy, or Oil! Yes, I will most definitely get around to all of this... tomorrow.
Yet tomorrow will inevitably bring a rushed morning routine, toddler tantrums, piles of homework, and a hastily thrown together dinner. Why could I not find the time to create homemade chalk out of toilet paper tubes, carve out an apple to look like a bunny, or methodically pack a lunchbox filled with all the colors of the rainbow and at least three superfoods? All of those Pinteresty women seemed to not have any problems making this happen. What is wrong with me?
Are my kids getting the short end of the stick because instead of making glitter crafts I've chosen to tell them to create their own fun? Is my packing them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and apple every day for lunch prove that I'm a mother who just does not care? No. Does organizing photos into what the Internet thinks is the perfect life sometimes blow a hole in my mothering confidence? Unfortunately, yes.
I know I'm not the only woman who has fallen under this spell, and you don't need to search for a Pin to find out how to break the curse. Trust in yourself and remember that images of perfection are nothing but smoke and mirrors.
[Editor's note: This is the final Mama Madison blog post, as Isthmus is discontinuing isthmusparents.com and is folding its coverage into isthmus.com. Previous Mama Madison content, along with other family-related content, is still available online. We thank Sari Judge, Aimee Ogden and Jessica Burfield for all their excellent writing.]