In Defense of the “Pinterest Mom”
By Alicia McAuley
Photo © thitarees/123RF
Oct 25, 2017
My eldest son started Junior Kindergarten this year, which means I am now a card-carrying member of the lunch-packing club. Before the school year began, I was determined to be as prepared and organized as possible; I ordered the lunch bag, I bought the bento box, I stocked up on school-safe snacks, and then I turned to one of my favourite sources of creative inspiration: Pinterest.
When I first began using Pinterest in 2011, my boards were full of recipes, must-have accessories, and home improvement projects. Over the years, they’ve expanded to include nursery inspiration, kid-friendly crafts and, yes, school lunch ideas. Pinterest has so many school lunch ideas that you could try a different suggestion each day from kindergarten until your child graduates from high school, and never make the same lunch twice. Unless your child is picky like mine, in which case you’ll be making turkey sandwiches from now until eternity.
While there are many lunch ideas that focus on straightforward recipes (sandwiches, healthy snacks, and the like), there are also plenty of lunches that lean more to the creative side — sandwiches cut and decorated like butterflies, or snacks dressed up with various thematic food picks and bento accessories. Cute, right? Apparently not everyone thinks so. In fact, it turns out that school lunches are just another thing for parents to judge each other about.
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Scrolling through Instagram recently, one of those butterfly sandwich photos caught my eye. It had been turned into a meme imploring “Pinterest Moms” to “please stop,” on behalf of “every other mom.” And while I could have just kept scrolling, I didn’t. I looked at it again, and read the comments attached, because something about it didn’t sit right with me. It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humour — I love a good laugh as much as the next person. But this particular meme had an edge of meanness to it. It was less about laughing with each other, and more about laughing at — mocking, even — moms who choose to go above and beyond with their kids’ lunches. The comments were even worse, with some declaring that such a thing was wasteful and ridiculous, while others went as far as claiming that anyone who makes “Pinterest-worthy” lunches probably doesn’t even have children, and only posts photos of their creations to get attention.
Maybe she does it simply because it makes her kids happy. Maybe the only way they’ll eat a healthy lunch is if their fruit is shaped like a star or a flower. Maybe she does it for herself, thankful to have any outlet for her creativity.
It would be easy to brush this off as a silly meme that missed the mark, but to me, it speaks to a much bigger issue: mom shaming. And it’s not limited to lunches, either. It seems that people love to roll their eyes and dismiss “Pinterest Moms” who go all-out for their kids’ birthday parties, Halloween costumes, and anything else that might be deemed “Pinterest-y.” But, why?
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Chances are, the mom who packs those lunches isn’t doing it to make you feel bad about your own lunch-packing skills. Maybe she does it simply because it makes her kids happy. Maybe the only way they’ll eat a healthy lunch is if their fruit is shaped like a star or a flower. Maybe she does it for herself, thankful to have any outlet for her creativity.
Whatever the reason, it shouldn’t make that mom (or dad!) a target of judgment and criticism. Parenting is hard enough without worrying that the contents of your child’s lunchbox might offend someone because it’s “too cute.”
These aren’t the things that make you, me, or anyone else a good parent. We’re all doing our best, and figuring it out as we go along.
And here’s the thing: if packing elaborate lunches for your kids isn’t your style, that’s okay. In all honesty, I had to stop cutting my son’s food into cute shapes because he was bringing home uneaten sandwiches and declaring that he couldn’t eat them, because they looked like cars (even though he requested that they be cut that way in the first place — ah, life with a four-year-old). It’s also okay if you don’t sew your kids’ Halloween costumes, build them a Victorian-style tree house, or make a three-tired birthday cake from scratch. These aren’t the things that make you, me, or anyone else a good parent. We’re all doing our best, and figuring it out as we go along. But while mocking someone for making a sandwich in the shape of a bird might make you feel less insecure, it won’t make you a better parent, or a better person. As the saying goes, dimming someone else’s light won’t make yours shine any brighter. So maybe it’s time to drop the labels and the judgment, and try cutting each other a little slack instead.
Only 1,964 more lunches to go.
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