Last Easter, as I scrolled through the pictures of Facebook friends and their families visiting the Easter bunny and doing Easter egg hunts, I wondered: had committed a parenting fail?
I didn’t take Ella to see the Easter bunny and I didn’t set up an Easter egg hunt at our house (because both sets of grandparents set them up for her at their respective houses and I thought that was enough).
I didn’t take her to see Santa Claus last year, either.
I figured it wouldn’t matter to her, she was only a 1-year-old and not really aware of traditions at this point anyway. Besides, since it would be more for my benefit, how important would it have been anyway? The answer was not that much; nor did I want to attempt standing in a line with my short-attention-spanned toddler.
But then I began to wonder if I made the right decision. As I got her dressed in a little Easter dress, I also wondered how I found the idea of a dress so important but not a visit to the Easter bunny.
Every year I also set out to buy Ella a new Christmas dress. To justify my spending, I try to find one that she can wear beyond Christmas day and the annual family Christmas picture. But truth-be-told, it never happens. We don’t have that many occasions where a fancy dress is needed.
Though, I suppose I could dress her up on a random day if I wanted to, but she’s a pretty active girl and the dress would just get ruined (also causing me to wonder why I spend the money).
But have I wasted my money? Maybe.
Am I a contradiction to myself searching every year for a Christmas dress but don’t make an effort to take Ella to see Santa? Am I failing her by not having those moments for her this early in her life?
The more I think about it, the more I believe these questions go back to the constant internal battle of perfection mothers fight with themselves, which includes trying to capture every Kodak moment or major milestone in our children’s lives.
I had a calendar given to me at my baby shower with stickers for all the “firsts” in Ella’s first year of life. I tried to be diligent about keeping up with it but as the days passed between adding to the calendar and the exact dates her first tooth poked through or the first time she tried carrots, I lost interest in trying to keep up.
I thought I would be a mom who kept as many keepsake items for Ella as possible, and for the most part, I make a valiant effort to do so. For her first year I kept cards and even saved the newspaper and a few magazines from the day she was born. I made a scrapbook out of it all, complete with our hospital bracelets, her footprints, and the sonogram pictures. I can tell you right now, that won’t be happening every year. Thank goodness for Shutterfly and their wonderfully creative photo book templates.
It takes a lot of work commemorate the milestones, to preserve every keepsake, or to make the visits to the land of holiday make-believe.
I have great intentions of keeping Ella’s childhood documented and, luckily, I enjoy being creative. I spend time perusing Pinterest for ways to best preserve some of her keepsakes without throwing them all in a box, but there are times I wonder if I fall short. I’m grateful for camera phones as well as their video capability; otherwise I’m afraid I would miss some of the best Ella moments.
I never really bought into the notion of a “Pinterest Mom” or Facebook envy until it came time to expose Ella to holidays and such. But I completely understand now how it can cause us to question and compare ourselves, especially as parents.
We all have different memories and keepsakes we choose to spend our money and time on, especially when it comes to our children. And lesson number one in baby books and on parenting websites is to not compare ourselves or our children to others.
I will continue to find Ella a fancy little dress for Christmas (hopefully to be worn again at Easter) and maybe this year will be the year we make the trek to visit Santa and the Easter bunny; but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t hold a grudge against myself.
I might, however, stay off of Facebook until the pictures of others have passed…just to be safe.