Ashley Steimer-King is a lifelong feminist and a first-time mom. In her column, New Feminist Mom, she’ll be exploring issues such as co-parenting, finding work/life balance and raising feminist children.
Taking a nap, making deviled eggs for an Easter picnic, hanging out with my son and his “Auntie Bug” (also known as my little sister)—those are all things I plan on doing this weekend. I will not, however, be spending any time doing things on BuzzFeed’s list of 11 Ways to Make Easter More Excellent for Kids. Nope, I will not spend even one minute making a piñata in the shape of a rabbit’s ass or leaving creepy bunny footprints around my house. (Both of which sound like a mess to clean up.)
No offense intended to my super-crafty mom friends, some people genuinely enjoy that stuff—and more power to them, I say. But the pressure to make our children’s lives one big Pinterest board—and the failure to offer up an endless stream of picture-perfect precious moments for our kids—clearly lands on the shoulders of women.
There is a movement toward more equal parenting and there are dads who do aim to equally share parenting duties. My husband, for example, got up with our little one at 6 a.m. today, took him to the doctor and then to daycare before himself going to work. But most mothers I know are still running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to make everyone’s schedules work. Moms are still the ones the school calls when the kid is sick, or a volunteer is needed for a school party. And there are a million subtle hints that mom is responsible for pulling off perfection, while dad is applauded when he “helps out.” (Don’t even get me started on dads “babysitting” their kids.)
I’m a member of a few Facebook groups for moms who work outside the home. This week, there were multiple posts from embarrassed women confessing their #momfails, like forgetting Easter baskets for the school party or neglecting to schedule haircuts before pictures with the Easter bunny. I’m willing to bet there are few dads who lose sleep because they forgot to make a 100 percent organic, allergen-free, bunny-shaped “Easter snack” for a class of pre-schoolers.
Here’s another problem I have with the “project” mania: During a “vacation” to my favorite big box retailer last weekend—before I had an infant I had no idea that two glorious hours spent browsing the brightly lit aisles, eating popcorn and drinking soda could be considered a vacation, but now I get it—I had to consciously make a decision to not buy a bunch of pastel crap. I needed breast pads, diapers and wine—standard new-mom fare—but I was bombarded by Easter candy, plastic baskets and fake grass. I had to remind myself that none of that stuff would make my family’s weekend any more meaningful or enjoyable, but the pressure to consume is no joke—especially for moms, who are expected to make all these projects a reality. Is it a stretch to think that all this mandatory craftiness is just a way to get us to buy more stuff?
I know that all this might come across a bit Scroogy, but I actually think it’s important. When we dedicate inordinate amounts of time, our most precious resource, to the planning, making and cleaning up of all these projects, we lose out on the really good stuff—like spending time with the people we love. So this weekend, instead of completing a checklist of projects, I’m going to take that nap, hang out with my family and not feel one bit guilty.
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