Happy Mother’s Day!

www.honeytreegallerie.com
http://www.honeytreegallerie.com

I heard my door crack open at an ungodly hour, dear Lord when are her window coverings going to arrive?

The moment the sun flirts with the promise of a new day my child shows up in my room with the promise of 3000 questions.

“Mom, Pinkie Pie and Pinkie Dinkie Doo have the same first name. Is that funny? One is a pony and one is a girl. A girl human. She has a brother. His name is Tyler Dinkie Doo. Pinkie Pie and Pinkie Dinkie Doo. Isn’t that so funny? Do you think that they spell it with a Y at the end?”

I was barely audible, “It’s I-E.”

“That’s silly. No, it’s a Y.”

“Ok,” I mumbled as I rolled into a lump under the covers.

I could feel her moving closer to my side of the bed, “Look at my socks. They’re Rainbow Dash. My panties are Pinkie Pie. I just looooooooove Pinkie Pie. That doesn’t mean I don’t love Rainbow Dash, but I really love Pinkie Pie. Isn’t it silly that Pinkie Pie and Pinkie Dinkie Doo have the same name?”

“Crazy.”

She crawled into bed with me, her arms wrapping around my neck, her breath on my face, “I’ll lay here for a little while, loving on you.”

I would have it no other way.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, whether by biology or pure heart and wondrous blessings.

The Shine Inside: My Little Introvert

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My daughter recently turned four and as she pouted and wrapped her hands into my shirt, her legs going limp as everyone sang “Happy Birthday,” I suddenly realized I am raising a little introvert. I had a glimpse last year when Elsa and Anna came down our stairs and exclaimed it was “Olivia’s Coronation Day!” The moment twenty or so heads turned, searching for Liv, I was overcome with a wave of emotion emanating from her tiny body. Her bottom lip quivered, her eyes shot downward and it she could have crawled into herself she would have done it right then, You can keep your tiara, lady!

I look back over the last four years of birthday pictures and find that in every photo that she is posed or the center of attention she looks as if she wants to join a nunnery. I have struggled with what I thought were tantrums while apologizing all over myself, She must be tired. She’s just funny around new people, and wondered why she chose social moments to let me know she wasn’t going to like someone if I wanted her to like them.

Her father looked at me after she and I blew out her candles together, pout pout, “Why is she like this?”

Once she had cake in belly and was running around like a banshee with her friends, no eyes on her, I answered him, “We’re two extroverts raising an introvert,” I waved my hands around motioning to the house full of people, “We’re going to have to rethink this…”

The very next day I took her to a luncheon to benefit The Animal Foundation, thinking she’d love to see the puppies. When we were asked for a photo, she squeezed my hand tight and hid her head in my leg, “No pictures!”

My girl loves to go directly home when I pick her up from school, “I need to relax on the couch.” After she’s rested for a few minutes she’ll paint the most beautiful picture, tongue swirling around her mouth in deep thought. We read, make up our own stories, garden, cook, go over rhyming words and she sweetly completes her chores to announce, “Mom, being at home is so much fun!”

I feel a smile spread because I see how happy she is through and through. No stress, no tears, just settled in our little shiny bubble of solitude.

A friend recently suggested I watch Susan Cain’s TED talk, “The Power of Introverts.” She began by talking about the suitcase of books she lugged to summer camp and I wondered what was wrong with books at camp, could I be an introvert too? I distinctly remember days lost in my imagination, books littering the floor of my room. I once wrote that as a child I never wanted to draw attention to myself and sort of stepped outside of my shell once I grew boobs. I guess books don’t really draw the boys to the yard, but drop the k and add a B (cup)….

This line of thought had me running to Psychology Today to take their Extroversion Introversion test. I wasn’t surprised to find that I’m what they refer to as a Chameleon. I have a toe in each, although I scored a 98 in my need for Personal Space, back up, y’all. I am guessing that something about my upbringing or career may have forced me from Introvert, but this exercise also helped me remember how incredibly overwhelmed I was in certain situations. My mother could be heard apologizing for me again and again in social settings, “Jeanette is sensitive,” when overcome by the tears I didn’t understand. The photo above is from a wedding in which I was supposed to be the flower girl. When I saw the long aisle filled with eyeballs I high tailed it to the Ladies and could not be convinced to step, together, step, together, y’all are nuts.

I feel as though I am being reintroduced to my daughter four years after I brought her home. I’m seeing this person who has always been, but through a new set of eyes. I will be more conscientious about who she is and my goodness she’s so beautiful when she’s deep in thought and not riddled with my expectations. It’s like a light has been switched on from within as she laughs, creates and practices words that make her giggle as she sounds them out.

Shine little girl, shine.

You never needed the spotlight anyway.

Mean Girls, Mean World

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I remember exactly where I was and what I was wearing the first time I thought my thighs looked fat. I was ten, sitting in my fifth grade class at Forest Hills Elementary in my matching top and bottom separates. They were mint green with navy stripes and I had on bobos because we couldn’t afford Keds.

I know I didn’t lose you somewhere in the descriptors because I’m certain you stopped when I said ten and took note of the word, the age and if you didn’t shake your head you likely paused. I shook my head this weekend as I read an article that said children as young as six are suffering from eating disorders and ten is the magical age they start discussing blow jobs.

What are we doing to our girls?

Bloomberg published an article two years ago that stated a billion women and girls are going to change the face of the global economy. Companies want them to step into leadership roles, fully recognizing the power of a women’s influence in the boardroom and in thoughtful decision making. But, how do they get there safely, confidently and with the least amount of scar tissue when the world wants girls to be sex pots by sixteen? I worry we want to grow our girls into moguls and move our communities forward, but aren’t changing the way we see them or each other, for that matter. Media, misogyny and starlets are an entirely separate conversation that can make me use wild gestures.

The other side of the coin? Forget the men and media who sexualize women and hear me please dear, beautiful, lovely mothers, sisters and friends and let this sentence sit in your heart:

We hate each other.

That is tragic.

Woman on woman hate, shaming and bullying are serious issues. I can appreciate another woman’s beauty, but recently observed a friend tear a woman apart from shoes to hairstyle when I said she was gorgeous. It made my heart hurt as I wondered what wiring caused us to start looking at each other as competitors as opposed to compatriots.

A male colleague recently observed a business woman question her female counterpart who mentioned aspirations of motherhood with a venom that was startling. He suggested women in leadership positions have to lose their feminine qualities and become almost masculine to feel heard, “Jeanette, these women were mean to each other…”

I’m guilty of it myself.

Prior to having my daughter I remember judging a single mom who wouldn’t travel on Fridays because Fridays were her days with her daughters. I am ashamed as I think back to my vitriol, “Seriously, this is business. Get a nanny. Be in or be out.”

Clearly she was in, but her “in” was with her priorities; her beautiful, innocent, learning, wander-filled daughters that needed their mom. She was balancing the powerful and beautiful roles that make women amazing and I was the little punk that wanted her to make things convenient for me and my business.

While I’ve come far, I referred to a male colleague as a girl the other day and my hands immediately flung to my mouth as I sucked in air. It was as if I wanted to pull the word and connotation back Hoover-style.

“That was terrible. What did I just do?” I winced with big eyes.

He smiled in a tender, slightly knowing way, “You have some thinking to do about this subject. You want to help women think differently, but even you are programmed to be more masculine in your role and to think of ‘girl’ as being a derogatory term.”

He was right.

I am typically the only woman in a business meeting. For the most part I lost the masculine vernacular after becoming a mom and finally shed the business suits because I was tired of dressing like all the men at the table. For the longest time I thought that being a woman meant weaker, for shame. I am no longer embarrassed to reschedule a meeting around my daughter’s schedule or discuss my daughter’s funniest new this or that and you better smile and ask me to see a picture.

I came to this place when, after returning from maternity leave, I was asked by an executive how I was going to “make it up.”

Dude, I just made a person. You go make it up.

I flung my mother status in his face while I got back to work by my own terms and timeline. I often think back to the day my daughter was born. I held her in my arms that first night and said to her searching face, “I will always choose you.”

So, I must choose her over and over again as I dig through the layers of conversations we have to have about self esteem, friends and the eventual step into the quagmire that is a hyper-sexualized world. The one that wants her to have a thigh gap, yet run it “like a boss.” She will see it in song lyrics, boardrooms and relationships and I have to figure out how to help her notice it when it arises rather than be conditioned by it.

The collective we has to choose our girls and each other. We have to dig through the layers of conditioning that have separated us and figure out how to come together and force these conversations in our communities, in our workplaces, in our governments, but more importantly in our homes. They should happen in the car, in line at the grocery, every single stinking chance to we have to capture the hearts of innocent, attentive little ears before they fill them with earbuds. If we can tuck these messages into their hearts, a little love note at a time, maybe they’ll build something we can only aspire to imagine. While a colleague has over and over again told me, “Hope is not a strategy, Jeanette,” I’m still sticking with hope.

I’ve got lots of it.

Boss Girl

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When I was pregnant with my daughter I knew exactly what she was going to be like, what she was going to eat and that she would not, I touted, be allowed to believe in princesses nor have a PlaySkool vacuum, if she wants a Barbie, Barbie better be a vet. There would be no Little Tikes kitchen, she would never don an apron and God forbid she have a babydoll.

Well, God apparently forbade my mother in law, who saw it as more of a challenge and threw in a stroller and a bottle. She rolled her eyes at me as my daughter held her baby and patted it’s back, “I mommy like you, mama!”

When my daughter played house during a play date in her friend’s plastic kitchen she cried out, “I making pasta like mommy!” My friend ceremoniously smirked, “She just wants to be like you.”

I scowled.

I finally gave up on my aspirations of a feminist toddler when I saw how enamored she was with Cinderella and the glitz, glam and goodness of her fairy godmother. She stood wide-eyed in front of the TV while one of my girlfriends and I nursed broken hearts on my couch. My friend had just found out her boyfriend cheated on her and I was turning marital memories into line items for a judge to review.

My friend looked forlorn as she nodded toward Liv, eyes puffy, as the “One Day My Prince Will Come” part came up. She wrapped her arms around her legs and sighed, “This is how it starts…” Then she started singing along.

“I know. Look at how happy she is though…”

I looked at my daughter with magic swirling around her, wispy fairy tales and Happily Ever Afters and resigned my desire to keep her chin above the dumb girls who only seek a Prince Charming, “You go ahead and believe in love, baby girl!”

My daughter has turned my expectations of mother/daughter on its well-highlighted head. I have had to come to grips with the fact that making a list of the exacts was going to be drawn through with crayon by a child who, at times, feels more like my teacher. I did not have a strong female role model growing up and once my belly started to nudge forward against the button of my jeans I realized that I’d had to become my own role model. I worried that I wouldn’t know how to be a mother so I handled it the way I do when I have a problem. I came up with a plan.

My plan looked like it came directly from a Boss Girl article in Glamour.

My plan did not at all take into consideration the example I could be without bullet points; the woman I am. So, I had to rip it up and rather than starting over, I accepted the fact that the lessons will bubble up around us as they may.

I’m learning too.

I recognized that I wrap myself up in dresses, beauty products, chop veggies and wear high heels with reckless aplomb, but don’t sit before a castle wringing my hands waiting for a man to rescue me. Instead the heels click clack toward boardrooms and Fly By lanes. I realized that my daughter’s viewpoint of femininity and love will be molded by the examples in her life as opposed to Disney and Hasbro.

The last time she wore my heels she did explain that she and Cinderella were heading to New York to close a deal, so I must be doing something right.

Melissa and I discussed this over drinks one night. I fell in love with her a little as she explained that her daughter already knew that Snow White became a dentist before the wedding and Sleeping Beauty went to Stanford. We agreed that we adore the new face of the Disney princesses. Elsa and Anna’s Act of True Love was between sisters; one defending the other against a certain beheading by the manipulative narcissist, Hans. Merida of Brave wanted to compete for her own hand in marriage and decimated the boys with her mad archery skills. Her father finally declared that rather than fighting for her hand they could fight for her heart.

Amen, brother.

Liv has asked me to reenact the new Cinderella movie several times this past week. She runs down the stairs with my shoes and flings one behind her so that I can pick it up. I call out to her and I better do it right because the Prince doesn’t know my name yet, mom. Don’t call me Cinderella! She waits for me on the couch while I fit my heel on her tiny little foot and then she says we can get married.

There is such a chasm of confusion surrounding women who try to live in a man’s world. We think we have to ditch the things that make us soft, strong, nurturing and true to nature. I did the whole “I’m a boss” kind of thing in my early thirties when I needed boys to know that I could smile and then eat their lunch. Now I recognize I can still be powerful in a room and maintain my femininity. I can be a mother with nurturing arms, an intelligent force with a voice and good God, shove the power suit into the corner because that is so last decade. I don’t have to be a version of what the world expects of a strong woman, but stand within the woman I am. I want my daughter to grow into womanhood knowing that she can wear heels and close deals and run marathons and be a chemist, an architect, a cowgirl, stagehand or Power Ranger and if she wants to do it with a hot lip color and bag in hand, do it, girl.

The rest?

We’ll figure it out as it comes or as she guides me.

She, after all, is clearly the boss.

Co-Parenting: You Thought You Were A Grown Up

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All I ever wanted was my family – that cellular group that defined my role in life. I wanted the husband, the children and the ridiculous English Springer Spaniel that jumped in the tub with the kids after dinner. We would laugh while bubbles filled the air and my husband wrapped me up in his arms. Oddly enough I pictured this happening in a house somewhere in the Northeast with a Lexus in the driveway.

My idea of family was based on a scripted commercial and it smacked of Kay Jewelers and a luxury car brand.

I never thought the angelic being that finally came to me would look up at me with saucer-like blue eyes and ask, at three years old, if I liked her dad.

It was one question that sat atop a lot of other questions and worries that make my chest tight as she awaits my response:

Do you love my dad?

You and daddy keep getting new houses. I’m scared you are both going to get a new house and leave me in one of the old ones.

Do I have one dad? Will I always have one dad? Will I have two dads and two moms? How many parents am I going to get?

Like her mom, all my daughter has ever wanted was a family. Her father and I speak regularly so we can handle her questions and concerns as a united front and sometimes we deliver the message in the same room. It is important our daughter knows we are always here for her no matter the house.

I remember being in the same room with Liv’s father the moment our fertility doctor turned the screen to us and a little being full of light and energy and sparkles danced across the screen. Her dad said she looked like a seahorse. We talked about how our seahorse would be raised, the values we would instill, the lessons we would share, us both children of divorce. My husband and I talked fervently about raising a beautiful majestic little seahorse in a two-parent union where all we wanted was a family, which we very quickly got around to irrevocably imploding.

Our seahorse is now the only thread that holds us together.

The State of Nevada requires you to attend a three hour course prior to granting your divorce when children are involved. A social worker who came from a broken family stood before us and explained every little way you were breaking your child and how the damage wasn’t just a now thing, but a forever thing.

I cried for three straight hours.

I also realized the following year would be dedicated to making sure my daughter survived the damage in the healthiest way possible. There would be no relationships, no dates, no nothing. The State shared daunting statistics and it was clear that no relationships entered within the first year of divorce would remain intact after you got through the business of healing, vulnerability and grief. It was the first time I’ve ever been given permission to have what they referred to as Temporary Adult Relationships, I think the state just made booty calls sound like a bailout program.

We were told that you must die to the relationship you had and look at your new relationship as a business arrangement. No more squabbling over who did what, no more fighting, get over yourself. You are in the business of raising this child with this person and the State recommends joint custody, so figure it out.

The first time my daughter came home to tell me a woman I didn’t know painted her nails at daddy’s house it was extremely hard for me to die to the relationship and get over myself. Another woman was mothering my child with the man I had her with and I couldn’t help but feeling replaced. It took a full 24 hours to pull myself out of the emotion and recognize that my daughter would inevitably have other women in her life. The best thing I could do for her, my daughter, would be to forge good relationships with the women that become her village.

My daughter recently told me I was her old mom and she hopes to get a new mom at daddy’s house. We had to talk through her definitions and she finally explained, “You’ll always be my mom and you and daddy are my always family, but I’d like to have a mom at dad’s house too.”

I didn’t feel threatened this time. Rather than being hurt I recognized my child is a girl’s girl and she is drawn to the warmth and nurturing arms of women in her life. I couldn’t ask for a better end result than a well-adjusted woman surrounded by loving mother figures. She actually decided she wants to marry one of her little girlfriends the other day because, “I think a baby would like to have two moms.”

Of course she’d like to have a mom at dad’s house.

I hope she gets a great one.

I am shocked at how emotionally resilient we can be when we recognize our ability to make each situation better for our children, to think of their eventuality. It isn’t natural, but it is doable with intention. It requires that I leave behind ego, my own hurt and my pride. While some women might not be able to fathom such things I promise you that it gets easier over time and why fight something that is inevitable? Another woman will never take your place, but she can compliment the love your child feels from the collective of caregivers.

What I find astounding is that I truly believe it helped me grieve and heal in a very healthy way. I now have more of a detached friendship with her father because we’ve had to build it per her request. The way her eyes shine and how she hums and sings and laughs and loves when her mom and her dad are present with her as her family forgives the how or the why.

After all, we have a seahorse to raise.

#pinterestfail

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Confession time.

I hate Pinterest. HATE IT. I just flat out didn’t get it for years and this is saying something for someone with as healthy a social media addiction as the next gal. I couldn’t understand why people posted pictures of clothes they don’t own, recipes they have never attempted and exotic beaches they have never seen with their own eyes.

When did the entire female population start pinning onto one giant mood board, what is this?

Then this nonsense started popping up at parties…

Wow, this cheesy butter ranch dip baked into a bread bowl is amazing! Where did you find this? Pinterest. Oh my gosh those little pink owl beeswax candle party favors are adorable, where did you find them? Oh I made them, got a little DIY inspiration from Pinterest.

Ugh. Sorry I asked.

When did we start pouring over lifestyle blogger pins to throw the perfect potluck? I mean yeah, that mango mint julep in my perfectly poured and garnished cornflower blue mason jar is delicious, but do I really need to operate at this level?

I was scared. I am not organized. I procrastinate. I hyperventilate just stepping into a Michael’s craft store. DIY and meticulous party planning has never been my strong suit. My mantra for social gatherings has always come down to two things: pay attention to the music playlist and keep the booze flowing.

With Pinterest fever in full force, my confidence was shaken but curiosity piqued. I finally kicked my animosity down a notch to see what the fuss was about. I set up my page and started out like most women do – pinning clothes, jewelry and shoes.

Somewhere between casual perusing and occasional pinning the unthinkable happened. I started believing that I should make my own deodorant and laundry detergent, that essential oils would cure every ailment and I could cut my grocery bill in half if only I planted a vegetable garden. I was becoming what I despised – a Pinterest addict. And it didn’t feel good. It was like a constant web page dedicated to all of the good intentions, wishes and wants I had, but never attempted. If I did they never quite came out the way I envisioned. The expectation that I could “pin” the life I wanted came into focus around my daughter’s 7th birthday a year ago.

Our general family rule has been to have a birthday party every other year for our kids. We do something fun with just the family one year and a birthday party with friends the next. It was C’s year for a party and she was excited about 7. This is the age I had gotten my ears pierced and she wanted the same and she REALLY wanted the party. I don’t know why, but something about 7 felt like a big deal. I decided I would make it a big deal and I turned to Pinterest.

Stupid.

I went with an Alice in Wonderland theme and went to work throwing a tea party for a gaggle of first graders. Invitations requested “tea party attire,” I bought glass tea sets and tea cups at local antique stores, set a menu of both parent pleasing healthy lunch items and pizza to keep the kids happy. I invited the moms and set two tables; one with perfectly prepared charcuterie boards and chilled champagne for the moms, the other decked with proper table settings, tea and pettifors, glitter, butcher paper, crayons and flowers for the girls. Flowers were everywhere; snipped and meticulously arranged. I dragged C’s massive doll house into the living room with lovingly arranged dolls for the girls to play with after they were tired of tea partying.

The kicker? I did something like this to my dining room ceiling. Thanks to Pinterest.
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I ran all over town to find the perfect colors of toile and paper poufy things. It took a few hours and a few misplaced holes in our ceiling, but I did it and it was glorious.

The girls all came and they were adorable. They ate, they colored, they oohed and aahed at the decorations and flowers and marveled at their glass tea cups. The moms noshed on the cheese I couldn’t pronounce and sucked down the champagne. The icing on the figurative cake was literally the cake – an elaborately decorated Alice in Wonderland cake with seven glowing candles that went dark with one poof of my little birthday girl’s breath.

It was over.

And then it happened. As our guests were leaving one of the moms who I did not know very well said to me. “Everything was perfect. This party, your house, looked like something right out of Pinterest.”

I pulled it off… and then I immediately changed into my sweat pants and cried.

I was exhausted. With the sugar rush waning and C’s big brother home, I was left with nothing but a Pinterest trashed house and two screaming kids. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to have a sweet birthday party for my daughter and her friends at our home and take the time and care to make it special.

But, when you look at it – did she really notice? Did she care? And why did it matter so much if anyone did?

I did it for me. Maybe it was mom guilt or self-imposed Pinterest pressure. For the amount of buildup and work that little tea party took, we ended up throwing away half of the uneaten Wonderland cake. I don’t even have a picture from that day.

Fast forward a year later to C’s 8th birthday. There was no party this year and no complaints. She just wanted to paint pottery with one friend and we decided to have the family over for dinner. I baked the birthday cake myself (chocolate, C is a total chocolate junkie like her mother) the night before the festivities and am pretty proud of the pink confetti frosting I found to use as the filling. I even busted out my little frosting writing cap to finish the cake off with a “Happy Birthday.” The cap was, of course, the wrong size and did not fit the frosting tube. Frosting oozed everywhere. While I tried to write a beautiful cursive note to my girl it ended up reading something like, “Happy Birthday Carginoisnum….”

It looked ridiculous.

It looked hilarious.

It looked not Pinterest-worthy at all. My Huz took one look at it and laughed out loud.

I did too.

The night of C’s birthday we ate grilled steaks and baked potatoes that were undercooked and a little too tough. No one cared. We drank a ton of wine, turned the music up loud and let the kids stay up way past their bed times drinking root beer, the good kind in the brown bottles. C blew out her 8 candles from the #pinterestfail cake and asked for the biggest piece, because homemade chocolate cake is her favorite.

It was perfect.

I was living life out loud with my friends and family.

Instead of pinning it.

Pin This

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Once Upon A Time I was not a mother. I threw fun and elaborate parties simply because I love bringing people together and widening my circle. I was known for the ridiculous reasons I created to order appetizers and use confetti. There was an MMA fight night replete with vampire mouth guards, Rock Band nights and my own birthday parties that stretched into days and made friends scratch their heads if they hadn’t received a Save The Date a good month in advance.

When I was pregnant I had a ridiculous baby shower that ended in a sleep over and people crawling down my hallway looking for coffee.

I was the only one without a hangover.

Then came baby birthday parties and my world changed. I entered this very strange cultural subset where we stare at each other with smiles and unconvinced eyes that look a little like shame and insecurity. I have heard many moms talk about how they attended a “Pinterest” birthday party; the cake in the shape of a baby swan replete with feathers and the ability to molt, the banners were weaved out of the Shroud of Turin and the punch was made of melted gold and myrrh.

They leave with their coordinated cupcakes, fairy dust and a plastered smile and then sigh into their tired hands.

Women have a tendency to think we are not a good mother if our mothering doesn’t look like another woman’s mothering and this has been reflected in the celebration of a child’s birth, the discussion of organic v non, stay at home mom v working mom and a flurry of self-imposed judging. I am just as guilty of the mom guilt. I worry for every hair, particle and pore when it comes to my daughter. I cried when I returned to work after having Olivia. In the time since I’ve had to learn to let some things go and also realized very quickly – things are not always as they seem.

Let me share a few dirty little secrets with you because I have all too often been asked how I keep it together or offered compliments that feel a lot more resentful and sad than they do sincere. It is as if the mom who says what a great job I’m doing wants to start crying before she punctuates her sentence and solidarity woman, I know exactly how you feel. Let’s cry together.

I was surprised when asked by a colleague who’d just had a newborn, “How did you do it?”

I looked up, eyes as honest as they are in my head, “I didn’t.”

My child had colic of the demonic variety. I did not sleep for a full year. I don’t know how I am still gainfully employed.

Once Olivia stopped screaming I made the mistake of not being able to say, “No,” when I was asked to do more than I should have as a new mom with a career. I chaired a Mother’s Day tea right after her first birthday. There were hand-painted tea pots arranged with blooming flowers at every table, many speaking parts and a fascinator glued to the side of my head. I stepped down from the stage after delivering a speech about our honoree’s lovely generosity and a woman at my table said, “You make me feel lazy.”

I felt my legs become heavy as if I stepped in mud. It wouldn’t have been socially acceptable for me to look at this woman and explain that my husband and I would likely be divorced by next Mother’s Day and that I cried a lot, being a new mom with a failing marriage is hard, yo.

After our separation I threw my daughter’s 2nd birthday party at what had been our “family home” per the motions that had been placed before the court. There was a petting zoo, giggling children and chocolate cake, oh my.

Someone posted on Facebook, “Way to raise the bar with a petting zoo, Jeanette.”

It would not have been appropriate for me to respond within the comments with the truth. I chose the petting zoo because it was the only thing I could afford. It was significantly cheaper than what my guests realized when compared to jump houses and play gyms and could be done in the backyard of the home with a mortgage that was killing me as a singleton. No one knew that I was working on a payment plan with the utilities to keep my lights, water and gas on until my divorce was final.

No one knew that in lieu of gifts my closest girlfriends each covered the cost of cake, decorations and sandwiches.

If I’m completely honest I would tell you there was some pride involved. Sure, I could’ve thrown my daughter a party at a public park or done away with animals altogether, but you likely would’ve seen me bawling in the fetal position at some point during the day. I was just starting to accept that the family home that I purchased with my husband, the one my daughter was supposed to grow up in, come home from college to visit, a la Princess Bride, was a house of cards.

I was having a hard time seeing my new life as a divorced mom and everything that entailed.

I felt like a failure.

But, I threw a Pinterest party and made other moms feel inferior.

You never know what is going on in someone’s world. You don’t know the internal struggles within relationships, personal insecurities nor the things that keep a person up at night.

No one is ever throwing a party to make you feel like you aren’t the same kind of super mom. The fact that you care enough to worry shows that you are a good mom, a conscientious mom and you are not going to ruin your babies because you don’t have a face painter. Your child will remember the moments you were there, not the moments you outspent or out glued another mom, good for you.

No one is ever posting a selfie of their personal fitness progress to make you feel fat. They have worked very hard and are proud of what they’ve accomplished. They shouldn’t have to hide it, good for them.

No one is ever posting a quote about self improvement, happiness or attainment to make you feel bad. They have risen from something you probably know nothing about and have found peace, good for them.

And Dear mom, good for you, because what you do is hard, painstaking, lovely work. You are raising people. They will go on to take the values and gifts you’ve given them to build out their own families. Your work will continue through them and their smiles, their full tummies, their wonder-filled minds are all you need to know you are killing this mom thing.

Pinterest is simply another organizational tool.

Like a laundry basket.