Ode to An Exhausted Mom: A Valentine’s Call To Arms

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I could hear heavy breaths and a tone of concern coming from the other side of the sheet.

“Mom… Are you coming out?”
(Was that a bit of panic I heard? )
“Yes. Give me a minute,” I muttered, taking deep breaths to calm my voice.
I was sitting in the middle of my kid’s sheet fort, cross cross applesauce, taking deep breaths, in, out, in out. I. Was. Losing it.
“Mom, it’s fine, I promise.”
“Just, can you just give mom a minute, please?”
My voice was pleading, almost. A last effort of calm in this desperate moment, trying not to give into the darkness.
“Yeah.”

I could hear his feet plodding away. I could feel his inaudible sigh. My 12-year-old, having to go watch his 4-year-old brother so that I can have a bit of a breakdown thanks to hallmark. And, yeah, I didn’t capitalize their name. Because I’m not going to go there right now.

Valentines day is causing a crisis right now, and I’m spiraling fast.Flashback to two years ago. I unpack my camera bags and painstakingly set up a background in a small closet type room with a small daylight window in my son’s preschool. I took pictures of every child in my son’s class. For money, you say? No. Because I wanted to make elaborate photo strips for them for their Valentines. Because I had seen this where? pinterest. (You will notice I have not capitalized that, either. )

This is only one of many (monthly, it seems) holidays that I neither have the time, nor the business, to be participating this vehemently in.

I was in it to win it, with every other toddler mom in the bunch. On the day of classroom parties, you could see us marching in, carrying trays and bags of cellophane-wrapped goodies, google eyes galore, holiday appropriate colored confetti sadly trailing in their wake. The march of the most awesome. Eyes every other mom’s offering, or so I imagined. Eyes that were tired from staying up until 2 a.m. to finish these bad boys. Yeah, we see those dark circles.

Teachers looking up, with that wary look of ‘oh what sugary hell are you delivering me to today?’ The tentative smile and hitch in their breath as they point the mothers to the table with all of the other pipe cleaner, inkjet printed, ricrac covered beauties.

I can only imagine the teacher’s thought that this is the stuff of nightmares that no adult thinks they are getting themselves into when they choose to become a child care professional.

Okay, back to now, as I recall all of this, remember the way that, for about 30 seconds on Valentines, all of the mothers were amazed, ashamed, and in awe of me. 30 seconds, maybe. More like maybe 5, but we are erring on the side of exaggeration right now, so forgive me.

Yet it’s two years later and I’m exhausted. Chalk it up to old age or over-extension, whatever, but when the list came out with the names that I was supposed to use to create valentines for every child in his class, I had a bit of a breakdown, which leads us to here. (Of course, I’m leaving out the crying, cussing, sad little fit I threw in the Walmart aisle because I couldn’t find plastic insects for the cutest Valentines I have ever seen!)

Honestly, I’m done.

Listen, being awesome is exhausting! And honey, let me tell you, in all of my nerdiliciousness, I AM awesome. But I’m also exhausted. And more than a bit burnt out.

So today, as I calm my breath and pull back the sheet ‘door’ of this sweet little fort, I’m calling a technical on Valentine’s Day. Sure, we could blame all of this on the gift card companies. But that’s not really fair, is it? It’s the mommies who feel like being a SAHM isn’t enough. Like they need to be way more than humanly necessary.

The mommies who feel like they need everyone to see, hear, smell, and taste their awesome. The mommies who feel the need to use watercolor calligraphy on all of their Valentine’s for their kid’s classes, send Valentine’s to the postman, and make bon bon Valentines for their best friend’s sister’s brother. You know who you are. And I am throwing up the flag.

As a reformed Mommy OverAchiever (that should be our club name!), I’m calling a foul on all the ornate extras. Regular extras are enough, ladies. Spare me the DIY Pinterest parade. Spare me the pounds of extra chunky glitter, the rolls of heart covered washi tape, and the applesauce containers with eyeballs glued to them. I am officially declaring war on the entire idea of heart shaped cake pops, handmade bath fizz balls, and (you know you thought about it) fuzzy yarn ball love monsters.

STEP AWAY FROM THE LACE! That will be our battle call.

Reach for the box of store bought super hero Valentines, and let go of the need for every other mommy to wish she was you. Because honestly, we don’t. Except for 5 seconds. And then we remember we forgot to buy detergent. Or milk.

This year I bought boxed Valentines. Seeing my son do his own Valentines, after 11 years of helping him create works of art, has sent me into a panic attack worthy of a therapy session.

But you know what? I’m ok.

As i step out of the fort, I see the look of pride on his face as he shows me his envelopes, all sealed with the little paper heart stickers that came in the box; all taped to a small candy bar with (cringe) transparent tape. He’s proud of his accomplishment. He did it, himself, wrote the names, taped the candy (I’ll get over the tape-instead-of-sticky-dot situation, i promise), and got them ready to go on his own while i pondered my need for pinterest perfection.

A smile crawls across my lips, and realize, I am ok.

And he is great.

Hi, my name is Jennifer and I am a reformed Mommy OverAchiever.

Maybe I should make sure the meetings have handmade cookies and place markers.

Oh, man, I’m going to need more sticky dots!