If you ever want to get really depressed as a parent, just go onto Pinterest and search for “kid birthday ideas.”
In preparation for my daughter’s birthday this weekend, I spent a few minutes on the image-sharing website. And suddenly I feel the need to tell you that I am probably never going to throw a party that includes cupcakes made to look like baby pigs, or personalized individual packets of instant lemonade as party favors.
Here’s the thing: I find it hard to believe that these things actually happen. But the evidence is right there on Pinterest, in overwhelming abundance. And that is precisely what has moved me to make this public declaration: I will not be making bunting. I will not be dipping 100 marshmallows into chocolate and decorating them with sprinkles and placing them lovingly into paper cupcake holders. I will not be making a seven-layer cake in which every layer is tinted a different color to form a rainbow effect.
I realize that I already sound snarky, as if I am thumbing my nose at the people who are doing these things. But, really, I’m not. Deep down (OK, not even that deep), there is a part of me that would very much like to produce a rainbow cake (or an ombre cake, if I want to be really on-trend). But I know myself well enough by now to know that it just ain’t going to happen.
Why not? Well, I could pretend to be all self-righteous here and say that it’s because I have better things to do than crafting a homemade quilted bunting from scraps of my daughter’s baby clothes. But there are a few things wrong with that statement.
For one, it’s not really true. Is whatever I’m doing on a given Saturday (work, laundry, watching my kid play with toys, going on Facebook) really so important? Usually not.
For another, it’s way too easy to be dismissive or derisive about something when really what we are is jealous. There, I said it. Jealous. I am jealous of people who can make perfect cupcakes and decorate their houses and wrap beautiful-looking Christmas presents. I can barely tie my shoes, let alone a decent-looking bow.
The truth is, I am utterly terrible at the exact sorts of things that give Pinterest its raison d’etre. My efforts are indistinguishable from the things my 2-year-old brings home from day care. And yet I continue to delude myself that I am capable of producing Martha Stewart-level crafts.
Take my Christmas tree decorations this year. Wanting to be frugal (and crafty), I decided to whip up some paper snowflakes to decorate our tree. (These also have the advantage of being relatively disposable, which is handy in a two-dogs-one-cat-and-one-toddler household, so I figured it was a win-win.)
Never mind the fact that I actually had to Google “paper snowflakes,” because I forgot how to make them. The point is that, even when I followed the instructions, my paper snowflakes came out looking like … well, I don’t even know how to describe them. They do not resemble snowflake so much as they look like small pieces of paper with a few holes cut in them.
Which is, of course, what they are. But Martha Stewart’s paper snowflakes are just lovely. They somehow transcend the form to become something much more; simple, beautiful and totally Pinterest-worthy.
Now, I know that what people — even, probably, Martha Stewart — show the rest of the world through sites such as Pinterest is not necessarily a full picture of how they live, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. (At least I hope it isn’t, or else I’m really going to get depressed.) But my point is, they do manage it, even if it’s only for long enough to snap the photo. I can’t even get that far. I just don’t have it in me.
So at my daughter’s birthday party, there will be no bunting, no mini crepe cakes, no theme and quite possibly no decorations. But there will be cake, and presents, and hugs and kisses. It might not be Pinterest-worthy, but it’s going to be enough for me — and, I suspect, for her as well.
Emily Popek is the assistant editor of The Daily Star. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.