Ahhh, gone are the days of simple, cheap, tacky, one-dimensional, store-bought paper valentines that grade school kids would pass out to their classmates in celebration of Valentine’s Day. When I was a kid, it was considered superfancy if those tacky store-bought valentines were accompanied by a box of those horribly artificially sweetened conversation hearts.
Gone are the days of simple anything. Every class party now is an opportunity for mothers to show off their creativity with fancy gift bags for every student in the class. Every birthday party guest must be sent home with a memorable parting gift. Even snacks at the Little League field are required to be assembled with flair.
It’s all part of the Mommy Wars. Of course, this is just my theory, but I think it’s a pretty good theory. We mommies are always on the lookout for an opportunity to prove ourselves – to show that we’re good at this whole Mommy Thing! Who’s the Best Mommy? The mommy who is the most creative! The mommy who happily spends hours baking fancy treats, constructing fun, unique school lunches, and painstakingly creating handmade scrapbooks, that’s who!
I’m not knocking these mommies – not totally, anyway. I both love them and hate them. I am both inspired by their creativity and ever-smiling efforts, and pissed off at them for raising the bar that much more for us slacker-but-wannabe-better-mommies.
Earlier in my mothering career, I was one of them. I could often be found hunched over a table piled with stickers, 80 different kinds of scissors, templates, and photos. Every birthday party my kids had was heralded by fancy handmade invitations, and party guests went home with elaborate, themed goody bags. When it was my turn to provide snacks for Kevin’s Little League team, no simple granola bar and juice box would suffice – there also had to be stickers (baseball themed, of course), and small prizes, all held in a decorated bag personalized with each player’s name in fancy letters. Halloween costumes were unique, creative, and handmade by moi.
It goes without saying that the more kids you add to your household, the more difficult these endeavors become. But I admit that sometimes I still feel the old pull of competition. Because, let’s be honest, these projects we undertake really aren’t for the kids – they’re for the other moms. The kids don’t give a crap about the carefully put-together goody bags tied with fancy ribbon, or the elaborate handmade invitations. It’s the mommies who care about this stuff, and it’s the mommies who are taking note and keeping score!
In keeping with this insanity, I decided yesterday afternoon to undertake the following project for my grade-school kids’ class Valentine’s parties which will be held tomorrow. If you do the math, you will see that this gave me roughly ONE day to complete this project.
(Note: I actually borrowed this idea from my friend, Heather, who did these for her kids last year. Hers came out much nicer than mine did. Mine is kind of the white-trash version. I guess I lose this one.)
(Additional note: of course I’m providing photographic evidence of my efforts. That’s all part of the game.)
CUTE PHOTO VALENTINES THAT WILL IMPRESS
Take a photo of your child holding his or her hand out in a fist, a little to the side. Print as many copies of said photo as there are children in your child’s class (3″ X 5″ is a good size). Trim photos if necessary. Using a craft knife, cut small slits above and below your child’s hand in each photo. Gently push the stick of a sucker through the slits in each photo, as such: