Christina Brockett calls herself a "hybrid mom"
She knows "perfect parenting" doesn't exist, but has moments of insecurity
Brockett wants to teach her children to learn from their mistakes
Got a parenting confession to share? Send it to iReport.
Editor’s Note: The popular scrapbooking site Pinterest can give parents tools to be creative with their kids; it can also overwhelm them and perpetuate the competition and judgment that especially mothers tend to feel. Two moms shared their unique experiences with the site on CNN iReport. Christina Brockett is a mom, real-estate agent and the author of “The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook.” Read more on her blog, MomEvolving. Read the other essay here: Why I’m a Pinterest mom, and you shouldn’t be jealous.
I used to wish I were a Pinterest-perfect parent. And I still have my moments.
I wish I were the kind of parent who makes the perfect kids crafts, food, or decorations captured in artistic photos. The mom who posts a picture of the boy’s room with the airplane models hanging from the ceiling and a fan with mock propellers for blades, where everything matches and nothing is ever out of place.
I flash to the reality of my son’s sailboat-themed room, now overrun with his collection of Star Wars and hockey bobble heads, uncoordinated artwork he likes, mismatched bookcases to hold his library of books and Legos assembled and stored in bins. It’s a room so disorganized it drives me crazy, but one I love because it is a reflection of him.
Magazines, television, blogs and Pinterest surround us with images of what perfect parenting should look like. While I might occasionally be able to pull off what I call a Pinterest moment, most days I feel as if I am an example of a Pinterest failure, whose cinnamon pinwheel cookies look more like slices of red meat.
But I guess that also describes my parenting style – and me, too.
I am a hybrid mom, one who works as a real estate agent and appraiser. I mold my job around the needs and schedules of my son and daughter while my husband runs his own business. The flexibility of my job sometimes has me texting a client while simultaneously arriving at my kids’ school to volunteer. I try to do it all.
But my life and house are messy at times. Tumbleweeds of dog hair still sometimes roll through my hallway. I tell people to open drawers at their own risk and ignore the dishes still in the sink because I’ve been busy with other things.
Over the years, I’ve learned there’s a lot more to being a great mom than having a house that smells of freshly baked cookies. But I still have my moments where I imagine what the Pinterest-perfect mother would do.
I imagine her preparing a flawless 100-step meal out of Food and Wine that the children will eat happily. When I attempt a complex culinary endeavor, my kids push it around their plates and ask if they can have macaroni and cheese instead.
I imagine a perfect parent would be consistent. Not like me – lecturing on the negative impacts of eating too much sugar one day, indulging them with cookies and ice cream another day.
I’m sure that mornings in the perfect household involve smiling children coming downstairs already dressed for school and a bowl of steaming oatmeal at the counter.
In my home, the oatmeal explodes inside of the microwave as my children, still dressed in their pajamas, argue at the counter. As I abandon the oatmeal in favor of GMO-laced dry cereal, my kids inform me that they are missing their uniform shirts – and I realize they are still damp in the dryer. I run out of time and take a hair dryer to the remaining damp spot while the carpool pulls up.
I read articles about working moms who get up at 4 a.m. to run 10 miles before getting their kids ready for school. On the days I wake up and get into my exercise clothes, I usually push aside taking care of myself to chip away at my to-do list – a list that I rationally know will never go away, much like the unending piles of laundry.
Intellectually, I know that perfect parenting doesn’t exist. But sometimes that’s hard to remember when you are surrounded by images of perfection.
Rather than a few pictures of perfection in magazines, we now haves sites like Pinterest, dedicated to collecting the best of the best. I feel we’ve absorbed these ideals and internalized them as standards we should live up to. Anything less is a failure.
It’s hard to escape my own standards, and even harder to escape the judgment of my peers.
But I’ve come to learn that perfect pictures don’t tell the complete story.
Nearly a year ago I came down to my computer to drink my coffee and check e-mail before waking the kids. There, in my inbox, was an e-mail from a close friend sent at 2:13 a.m., only a few hours earlier, with a subject line of, “Sad News.” My eyes welled with tears as I read about the unexpected passing of my friend’s husband – an amazing man and father of two children. Closing my eyes to hold back the tears, the image captured on their beautifully designed Christmas card appeared. Her world and those of her children would be forever changed, and the idea of the perfect Christmas card now seemed so irrelevant.
Over the last several years, I’ve had several contemporaries die, and watched others battle life-threatening diseases. These events and time have altered my views on perfection.
Now, I don’t believe perfect parenting exists. I believe in parenting with love as your beacon. I believe one of the greatest lessons I can teach my children is how to learn from our own mistakes. Life isn’t about perfection, but about finding balance.
I am an imperfect parent. I am a work in progress. I make mistakes, but I own them. I feed my kids too much pizza and mac and cheese, and the only yoga these pants will see today is the studio near the store where I will order my son’s ice cream birthday cake.
I want a new image of the perfect parent to be absorbed and internalized. I want the judging to stop, and I want to celebrate the “imperfect” parent – the mother or father who ignores dishes in favor of playing with kids, accepts their own flaws and still tries to be the best person and parent they can be.
Do you use Pinterest as a parenting tool? Share your experiences in the comments section below.