Party planning is in full swing. My dear, sweet baby kiddo is turning 5 in April. Soon she'll still be dear and sweet, but she won't be a baby any more. She'll be a rising kindergartener. Gulp.
I'm a party planner by nature. The kiddo and I have had her party theme picked out for a solid year - Disney's It's a Small World - and I am ready to go all out with cutesy overload. I have the party mapped in zones, and I know exactly which decorations will go where. I know the food selections already. I have Pinterest boards teeming with ideas. The kiddo and I have discussed the favors (and even watched YouTube videos about them) and she's stoked to help make the gifts. I bought the cake pan
I promise, I'm not crazy.
I read mommy rants all the time about how women can't have it all, and about how Pinterest perfection is ruining women's lives. I read those posts, even though I know that I shouldn't, and I get irritated. They feel like personal attacks and seem unfairly critical. A common theme in such posts is that women should stop the delusions of having it all; an argument almost always punctuated with a significant dose of suck-tastic gender-biased criticism. Damned if they do, damned if they don't, if you will. The posts often argue that because no woman's life is Pinterest perfect, to pretend otherwise with homemade Valentines and adorable notes in our kiddos' bento boxes smacks of dishonesty.
Mommy wars are alive and well, and working moms and stay-at-home moms alike shoulder massive amounts of guilt over forces that they often can't control. But it's also true that if you're feeling overwhelmed by something - career, teething, game booth for the spring carnival - the answer is NOT to blame and point fingers at other women who seem like they have it together.
- I'm good at party planning. I am also good at letting exercise, laundry, dishes, and finishing any home DIY project slide right on over to the back-burner.
- Chicka-dee is killing it at work. She also feels guilty about missing out on quality time with her kiddos when she clocks 70 hours at her desk.
- Sister runs a tight ship and has the most organized house on the block. She also rocks a wardrobe of yoga pants and never goes out with friends any more.
- BFF loves to party from happy hour to witching hour. She also is living paycheck to paycheck, and can't quite figure out how to dig herself out of her financial hole.
Party planner. Corporate climber. Organization diva. Social butterfly. Labels like these are always merely one side of the coin. We're all good at something. Most of us know what we excel in, and we milk it (consciously or not) as our personal brand in order to build social capital (often on social media). But there's always another side of the coin - the stuff that we're not so good at; that we are a little bit ashamed of; that we wish we could change about ourselves; that we're always avowing to do-better. Those things, though, have nothing to do with being a mom, or not a mom, or a working mom, or a stay at home mom. The things that we do well and the things that we wish we could change exist because we are HUMANS trying to make our way in the world. Judging someone for keeping their footing while others fall down and try to get back up is silly; standing, falling, and rising is all of us all of the time. It's what humans do.
Pitting groups of women against each other in finger-pointing, Pinterest-scapegoating mommy wars hurts women. Lifting each other up and complimenting each other on our strengths helps women. There is no shame in allowing your-baking-challenged-self to compliment the classroom cupcake maven on her baking skills. Letting her know that you recognize her culinary talents does not diminish the value of the hours you spend doing community service. There is no shame in giving your neighbor props for her homeschooling expertise. Letting her know that you admire the quality educational experiences that she crafts for her kids does not diminish the value of the hours you log at work so that you can provide decent health insurance for your family. There is no shame in complimenting your colleague on her commitment to clean eating and fitness. Letting her know that you admire her for her physical strength does not diminish the warm fuzzies that you get when you choose family game night over going to the gym night.
Life is not a zero sum game. What other women do well does not lessen me, and vice versa. Mommy rants, mommy wars, women-this, women-that... I'm over it. Women can do most things well with adequate support. If someone feels like they are faltering, and that something has to give, adequate support is missing. I can't make guarantees about the promise of mutual respect and consideration to overcome barriers. Sometimes that claptrap is systemic, and the fight is much bigger than one person. But I can promise that trying to support one another is a heckuva lot more likely to give someone the psychological or material boost that they need to keep on keepin' on than pointing a finger in their direction and audibly uttering "tsk tsk."
Be good to one another. You do you, and I'll gladly throw a party to celebrate your accomplishments.