Yesterday afternoon as Charlie and I sifted through the Valentines he brought home from preschool, it was plain to see that there are two schools of thought behind the organization and execution of mom-directed Valentine-giving among those in early childhood. There is the handcrafted, clever, and uniquely adorable variety–perhaps inspired by Pinterest or purchased on Etsy. And then there is the canned and generic “buy a box of Cars-themed Valentines while grocery shopping and slap a tootsie pop on it” kind. Can you guess which sort my son took to school? I am unabashedly not ashamed to own the fact that my three-year-old went with Cars.
I really enjoyed looking at the sweetly, beautifully handmade cards laced with a chic presentation of candies. It was kind of like a mini session of browsing online pin boards for uber-adorable Valentine ideas. And they were right in front of me, already created. And Charlie and I were mining them for their attractive cache of candy. At lunchtime.
I also really enjoyed looking at the Cars-type cards. There were a bunch, all delightfully adorned with taped-on pink tootsie pops. Was I embarrassed to see these identical cards with identical treats, presented in such a pedestrian way? No, my friends, I was anything but embarrassed. I felt, rather, a satisfying sense of solidarity with the moms who sent Valentines like ours. “That’s right, people,” our kids’ Valentine offerings seemed to declare, “We went with pre-fab Cars and a taped on tootsie pop. Deal with it.”
Lest you think I am trashing the moms who made the super cute offerings, let me state that just a few years back, I was one of them. I remember packing my baby and toddler tots off to my favorite scrapbook store to purchase stamps, paper, and all the supplies necessary to create ladybug Valentines for a preschool party. It was exciting for me to envision the finished product, and fun for me to engage in a few hours of stamping, cutting, and ribbon-tying in order to make it happen. Back then, I enjoyed it.
Now, eight-ish years after the ladybug cards, life has intervened. If I have a few hours to fill, I desire these things, in no particular order: a nap, a trip to the movies, a meal eaten somewhere else and prepared by someone else, a book, dark chocolate, a Netflix fix, a walk, and/or some uninterupted conversation. It’s not that I don’t appreciate crafting or see the value in it for other people. It’s simply that it’s no longer fun for this gal. It’s work, and I have plenty of that already.
I love that I have friends who have the gift for making beautiful, handmade things. I like that they enjoy creating and that their creations make the world a little prettier. I really do get a charge out of admiring the fruits of their craftiness. But I also like that I am not crafty anymore, and I know it.
I still create things. But now it may be more along the lines of a dinner which successfully feeds my morbidly picky eaters. Or an evening when Jack’s poo-palooza goes no farther than a three-minute smearing of the bedsheets (the easiest smear to remedy, as Jeff and I both know). I’m proud of the calm demeanor I created and doggedly maintained this week when Jack sassily lobbed a Lightning McQueen across the room, knocking my Paris plates off their perch and into a shattered pile on the floor.
Anyway, Cars IS on my three-year-old’s list of top five most-repeated movies. And to be perfectly frank, some members of my family like tootsie pops so much that they request that two of them be packed for their lunch–with nothing else. (Just because he asked, it doesn’t mean that is what he got). Basically, we just went with it, tootsie pop-style this Valentine’s Day. It’s how we roll.