I told Nick when Micah started preschool that I was either going to be the best of school moms or the worst of school moms. I don’t do moderation well – I’m working on it. I was either going to volunteer for all the things and kick butt, or be the one sitting on the sidelines being like, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
My first test came on Valentine’s Day. The notice said “if” our children wanted to participate, here are where the bags are for delivering valentines. My first reaction was, “Great, ‘if’ implies this is optional so I’m not doing it.” And then on the 13th after work I was sending Nick out to Walmart to “get the stupid cards”. Micah’s at preschool to learn to socialize (NOT because it gives me a break because it doesn’t), so let’s let him socialize. Well, Walmart was out. So here I am at bedtime cutting out half-a**ed hearts and sticking stickers on them. I look at my haphazard homemade cards and feel a bit proud. Other parents probably just bought them. I MADE them. Even if they are sorta ugly….
Fast forward to the next day, and YOU GUYS. What happened?! I admit it’s been 24 years since I walked around a classroom and dropped cards in paper bags taped to classmates’ desks, but seriously. There were goodie bags stuffed with loot! The goodie bags were even DECORATED as if loot stuffing was not enough. There was candy and activity books and stickers. I dug through Micah’s bag seeing if anyone else had just a “normal” valentine. I think there were a few, but one had magnets on the back to make it functional and the other had candy taped to it. Seriously, even the ones that didn’t try shamed mine.
I’m friends with zero preschool moms on FB so far because we just started, so onto social media I went to air my woes. I was surprised at how many of my friends were shocked by what their kids brought home as well. Okay, good, we all sucked together. But then another friend with older kids private messaged me some encouragement. I mention she has older kids because that means she’s a “pro” at this school thing in my mind. She said something along the lines of, “Laura, don’t worry about upping your game because everyone has different strengths in life. For some people this is their love language. Other people would die if they ever saw the family albums you make each year because that is your gifting. Own your strengths and let the rest go.” Guys, that was SO FREEING.
As moms we don’t have to rock at all the things all the time. My Valentines are gonna suck because I spend my free time taking photos of my kids and chronicling their childhood because that is my passion and my strength. I don’t have time to curl ribbons and hit up the dollar store, but I do have time to spend 30 freaking minutes on a single photo that I want to look just right that, in all honesty, my boys probably won’t even care about down the road. Dinner around here is often toast and oatmeal (not at the same time, you guys – those are two SEPARATE meals. Don’t use all your tricks in one go). But you know what? My closets and drawers are organized and my house is tidy because I care about those things and I can’t do that and be a fabulous cook simultaneously without losing my mind. My kids watch WWWAAAYYYY too much t.v., but I’m also at the same time the mom that devours books and blogs on parenting intentionally because that’s so close to my heart. (I ignore the blogs and articles on screen time and brain development because that’s just depressing…).
So you see, it’s okay to rock it out at your gifts. And it’s okay to sit down and be like, “Do you remember the last time they had a bath? Sniff them. See if it’s time.” (Another regular conversation in our house). I’m going to be both the best mom AND the worst mom. This is moderation… I think…. It’s the closest I get to balance anyways. So next year I will NOT buy all the kids Starbucks cards to be used by their parents because that was my next move to win Valentines. (Did I mention that I’m all or nothing). I will go and find those silly little cards (earlier this time so Walmart isn’t sold out and I don’t have to make my own again). And let’s be real. I’ll tape a piece of candy to them because I have to at least tie for least effort. I don’t want to win that category entirely ;). All this to say, you do you, mama! You got this! We all got this.