Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.
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Cool vs. Not Cool
I read a lot of articles on parenting. Working parents, stay-at-home parents, self-employed parents, somewhere in between parents. And if there is one trend that I have taken issue with, it is the amount of people who dismiss moms trying their hardest and doing good work.
I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve made fun of the mom with perfect salon hair and a cute hipster outfit, pushing a newborn around. “Obviously her child is a robot if she has that much time to get ready in the morning,” I would quip. Or when a mom I know on Facebook constantly posts about her workout routine and how much weight she has lost. I immediately go for the jugular, “Yeah, if I wanted to neglect my kids every day, I could have six pack abs, too.”
So I get making fun of those moms. But it’s crappy and we shouldn’t do it.
Lately the articles I’ve been coming across have been so uncharitable towards moms who are passionate or successful at certain things. One article I read was by a stay-at-home mom who thought it important to distinguish herself from “those” moms who care “overmuch about scones.” Or another stay-at-home mom who made fun of women who make handmade party favors for their kids’ birthday parties and whose lives look like a Pinterest board.
The biggest reason I am so mad about this is because of the double standard of it all. A mom works really hard to create delicious food for her family and her hard work is trivialized. People see her as a person with nothing better to do than to cut sandwiches into the shapes of dinosaurs and one who is so brainless that the most she will ever aspire to is making carefully crafted cupcakes for the school bake sale. How is this mom any different from any famous chef? Famous bad boy celebrity pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini got interested in pastries after staring at some chocolate butterflies, and everyone falls over themselves wanting to love him and his work. I guarantee if a mom said this same thing about her love of baking, she would get lip about wasting time.
Then there are moms that DIY. These moms get a pat on the head and an, “Oh, that’s cute,” for the creative ways they make things in their home. But then these sisters who DIY everything in sight have 8,000 likes on Facebook and are seen as edgy and modern and cool. Which I agree with, I love their stuff. But why is their tutorial on making a gold potted hanging plant creative and artsy but a stay-at-home mom would get eye rolls and the comment, “She must not have anything better to do.”
Like I said, I’ve been one of those cynical people taking a crack at moms that did something good and interesting — until it happened to me.
Right after I had Olivia, I was new to the whole stay-at-home thing and I was going a bit crazy. For whatever reason, I got really into making bread. Like the add-yeast, knead-it-for-20-minutes, let-it-rise-for-hours kind of bread. It was therapeutic for me and I felt like I was doing something healthy for my family. It made me feel good not to rely on some big food corporation to put bread on my table. It made me feel creative and proud.
I wanted to take a few loaves over to a friend just to be nice. When I got there, one of her neighbors was there. I dashed in to drop off the breads and tell her what kinds they were. Her neighbor incredulously asked me how long it took me to make those. My mouth hung open for a second while I digested this backhanded question and before I could say anything, she quickly added, “Oh, you only have one kid, you have tons of time.”
I felt like she had slapped me in the face. I’m a new mom. I’m going a bit stir crazy with my new baby who won’t sleep and just wants to eat all the time. But I’ve found something that makes my family’s life healthier and that I am truly interested in, and she threw that on the ground and stepped on it.
I’ve done this before, too. We all have our bad days and we get angry and we say mean things because if we dismiss good that we see when we’re feeling not-so-good, then good looks stupid and petty. And we, who are being brats, look superior because we are enlightened enough to be above needing a loaf of handmade cinnamon raisin bread with a perfect crust.
We need to stop this. It’s like being in high school. And I know high school; I’ve worked in one off and on for five years. The world doesn’t need adults being “too cool for school” and putting down people that are trying their hardest.
I’m not saying that it’s good to spend every second of the day devoted to crocheting, but can we please just let people like things that are different from us and let them be proud of their hobbies? I know some go overboard but most don’t. Most of us just want a few minutes each day to decompress, to do something that is completely different from what we do all day, something that makes us feel good about ourselves because we are good at it.
Next time we’re about to rip on someone for being good at something we don’t find interesting, let’s remember that perhaps not everyone would find watching all the new Arrested Development episodes over two days a waste of time or our intense desire to brew the perfect beer silly. (For the record, I would like to do both.) Let’s all just agree to respect one another’s different ideas of fun, smile, and move on.