The month of September feels like a fresh start for many. It’s a time when perfectly captured bento box lunches fill my Instagram feed, and well-crafted schedules clutter my Pinterest.
Doors around my neighbourhood are adorned with a new fall wreath, and kids wear brand new shoes, so hopeful and sparkling clean.
At my house, my kids are wearing mud-caked shoes, and clothes that are wrinkled from the boxes under their beds, where they were stored all summer. Our threadbare wreath is a few years old and looks like it has rabies. I opted out of dipping into my retirement savings to buy a Bento box, but we are fans of reusable ziplock bags around here.
I’m not a Pinterest-obsessed or Instagram-worthy mom, and I’m finally okay with that.
When I was still a rookie parent I felt like I needed to keep up appearances as a home organizer, or whatever you want to call it. I would always look at September and January as times for fresh opportunities and new organizational habits. I figured I just wasn’t trying hard enough, and I’d work extra hard to be the most organized mom on the block, next time. I knew that organization didn’t come naturally, but I figured with practice and discipline I would improve.
Three kids later, and I’ve finally admitted that I am not meant for visually appealing motherhood.
I don’t knock those that love their colour-coded binders and closets that look like they’re clipped from a Martha Stewart Magazine, I just accept that I’m not one of them.
For me, functionality and ease are key.
I still need to pack lunches, dress my kids, and figure out what I’m going to buy at the grocery store. But I also realize that using a Kate Spade notebook to organize my chores is not my thing, so I usually just use whatever paper I can find in my kids’ disorganized craft cart, and a nearly-dead pen stuffed into my cutlery drawer.
It’s not pretty, but it works – and that’s pretty much my life organization motto.
In those early years, I thought that a themed lunch and a playroom inspired by Apartment Therapy was what made me a good mother. How could I be as good as the moms with their handmade teepee tents made from their ancestor’s clothes? My kids played with toys I literally found on the side of the road and cleaned with a baby wipe. Betty’s child had a baby book that looked like Beatrix Potter herself made it, whereas I relied on the Timehop app to remind me of when my kid first walked.
It took me a lot of effort and discarded organizational books to realize that we aren’t all meant to be the same. Just like I am naturally disorganized, there are moms who are naturally organized. Just like I naturally toss things into bins willy-nilly, others colour code and compartmentalize. Since when did one of us have to be better than the other? There are strengths of mine that others don’t have, but being a Pinterest mom is just not what I was destined for.
I commend the savvy of the mothers out there that can turn a sandwich into a bunny, but I’m done feeling like I need to fit into the mold of aesthetically pleasing motherhood.
What makes a good mother, anyway? It’s not the outward abilities, but those unseen qualities, like unconditional love and boundless empathy, and these two things that I’ve got covered.
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