This week I witnessed something that caught me off guard. […]
This week I witnessed something that caught me off guard. During a Christmas party, a mama brought in a plate of beautifully decorated homemade cookies to share with the crowd. While she was setting out her spread, another mom walked up, saw her pretty baked goods and, with a little nudge and an eye-roll, said: “You have way too much time on your hands!”
Did she imagine this mom sitting by the pool, sipping a Bellini and drumming her fingers on her latest copy of US Weekly wondering what on earth she should do with her day—and then concluding that she should, in fact, spend the afternoon flitting about the kitchen hand-rolling three dozen sugar cookies just for funsies? Or was it a more passive hint that if she had as much free time she could accomplish the same thing, and, therefore, all of this mom’s hard work wasn’t really that impressive?
Whatever the reason, it totally rubbed me the wrong way. I wasn’t about to write a whole blog post about it, though—until I heard it said two more times this week! That’s right: Three different moms. Three different occasions. Three beautiful examples of selfless hard work belittled with those nine frustrating words. The worst part is that I could see the surprise and hurt on each of the mama’s faces—they’d put a lot of time and energy into creating something special, and then they were made to feel embarrassed about it by a fellow mom.
I’ll go ahead and state the obvious: Moms are busy. Like, really busy. That’s why “mom guilt” exists. There’s never enough time to do all the things you want to do, and it’s easy to feel bad about it when you see your neighbor with her four kids and her Doberman jogging to the mailbox looking like a fitness model. Most moms don’t even have the time to blow-dry their hair, so I’d venture to guess that most are also entirely too busy to waste a second of their day thinking about ways to intentionally make other moms feel inadequate. That’s why I think “mom shaming” is ridiculous. This is the first instance of it I’ve ever witnessed, and although it was subtle, I think it’s worth talking about.
The holidays are a time of giving and thoughtfulness. It’s also the perfect season to tap into those hidden talents that bring you and others joy. For many moms, this means making the conscious decision to put off sleep, laundry and good hygiene for the sake of putting their beloved skills to use.
For me, it’s giftwrapping. I’m sort-of obsessed. Pretty papers, big bows, bobbles and hand-penned tags dripping from packages. It’s a total labor of love—and for many people, a total waste of time. Yet I stay up late, wake up early and fill all of Bea’s naptimes curling ribbon. It makes me happy to make something pretty, and it fills my heart with joy to do that for someone else. And, let me be absolutely clear, it’s a big ol’ pain in the backside to spend all day blocking Bea from tearing off the bows I stayed up half the night tying, but gift-wrapping is “my thing.” I enjoy it and do it well, and I’d be really sad if I couldn’t give that part of myself to others at Christmastime. Bea may grow up never having eaten a Yule log (I’m not going to lie, I don’t even know what that is), but at least she’ll know all of her gifts were picked and presented with love and purpose. And that’s important to me.
Other moms have their “things.” The perfect family Christmas card picture. Freshly baked goodies. Organizing a party. Holiday-themed craft projects. Even seemingly basic forms of holiday cheer and gift giving take a lot of dedication. (Have you seen that mom who loaded up her kids, hauled them into Starbucks and managed to keep them from breaking every mug in the store by bribing them with lots and lots of sugar, just to buy her friend a $5 gift card? Because I have. And I think she’s a Christmas miracle.)
The point is that none of these women have “too much time on their hands.” They do these things because they enjoy them and they care. They want their kids, friends and family to feel special. They want to carry on traditions. They want to show that they’re more than just moms.
So, from one mama to another, remember ’tis the season to embrace grace and cheer and love—and to show your fellow mamas the same. Instead of assuming your mom friends just have more time to spare, acknowledge how much they sacrificed to go above and beyond. And make sure you take a minute to remember all the special little ways you go above and beyond, too.