by Alli Worthington
Traditions and rituals (and I’m not just talking about Christmas ones) are best when they add to our lives, not become a source of extra work, busyness, and headaches.
After many missteps and mistakes in finding my groove in a world of expectations, I have learned to chill out about things. I have kids in all ages and stages of preadult lives, so when it comes to raising children, I’ve learned to take life at the pace it comes.In other words, I’m chill. That is . . . Until . . . I get on Pinterest.
And then I am overcome with the need to create, recycle, upcycle, do, glue, paint, design, decorate, make and bake, all for the sake of “making memories” with my children. And when I’m done with all of that, I’m supposed to dream, surprise, inspire, delight, protect, teach, nurture, discipline, and feed them!
I tell you, I thought I had it all together until I got on Pinterest. As it turns out, I am a slug for a mom. I don’t know how to cook organic food from scratch. I’ll never have buns or abs of steel. I can’t braid my hair in a fishtail-bun-upswept-messy-updo. Can’t paint the map from The Hobbit on my fingernails. Will never decorate with mason jars. And I don’t know how to make a single thing from an old wooden pallet.
Is it too crazy to announce that Pinterest has ruined birthday parties forever and ever? It has. Before Pinterest, you could have a flat birthday cake with candles and maybe even some char- acters on top. Now birthday cakes have to be tiered with lava flowing from them or Elsa and Anna shooting icicles or they won’t be Instagrammable. Yeah, I said it. (But, for the record, I do Instagram our sheet cakes. Fight the power, ladies.)
In fact, have you noticed how the whole birthday party game has been upped in the last few years? We used to invite kids over and go to a fast-food play land or meet at a park to celebrate a kid’s birthday. Not anymore. Now we have ponies, themed occasions, and Cirque de Soleil. Okay, maybe not Cirque, yet. But you know it’s coming!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying big elaborate parties are a bad thing, if that is what you love to do. I enjoy going to parties where they’ve rented a petting zoo, made the Roman Colosseum out of marshmallows, and have massive goodie bags with toys and candy. I support anyone who wants to throw an epic party. What keeps me from finding my own groove is when I start believing that I also need to throw an epic party or I won’t measure up.
Birthday parties in our family are low-key. I explain to the kids that we have a birthday budget and that budget can be spent on a party or gifts. So far we have one boy out of five who some years wants a party instead of gifts. I know, I know, I’ve been lucky. And if a party had to happen at our house, you better believe there’s no Cirque budget, and any expectation or hopes of big goodie bags will be dashed quickly.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could say freely, “You do your thing. Make that life-sized Olaf out of marshmallows and hire princesses to come over. That’s awesome. But I’m cool not to do those things.”
After my visit to the Today Show and the conversations I’ve had with hundreds of women since, I think we really are cool with not doing those things. Meaning, we are okay not to live out and continue (or pick up) traditions that don’t mean anything to us. But we are still afraid to find our own groove and live in itbecause we are worried some- one might judge us and find us lacking.
I say, “Bake your cake, buy your cake, don’t have a cake at all!” We are all adults and none of us have the time to care or judge how anyone else is doing it. That’s the world I want to live in. (But if you do have cake, please invite me over. I love cake.)
When I asked my friends what expectations they felt they had to live up to, the answers were both telling and hilarious:
•“I must plan awesome family vacations that we will talk about for generations to come.”
•“I have to have lovely, professional family photos taken every year.”
•“I can only feed my baby organic, locally sourced food or I’m not being a good mother.”
•“Even though I have a family of three, I have to drive a car that seats at least seven people just in case I need to haul a sports team somewhere or drive for a school or church trip.”
•“I must dress like a model every day. Those ‘outfit of the day’ #OOTD photos all over Pinterest and Instagram are crazy. Who can keep up?”
I get exhausted just looking at the list. The thing about any of these “must-do’s” is they are all fine things if you’re doing them because you love them and are called to do them. But if not, you’re in danger of living someone else’s life, instead of expe- riencing the uniquely wonderful, beautifully crafted life Jesus planned for you.
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Taken from Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington. Copyright © 2016 by Alli Worthington. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.