Guest Post: Kristina Cerise: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

If it ain’t cookie dough, it doesn’t need a cookie cutter.

SIMPLE: not hard to do; having few parts; not complex; not fancy; not special

Can we agree that motherhood has gotten complicated?

When I was a kid, cookie cutters were used for exactly one thing: cookies.  Now, Pinterest tells me seasonally appropriate cookie cutters should be an integral part of everyday lunch packing.  You know, because kids feel more loved when their carrots look like pandas.

As a child, I thought it was indulgent when a friend’s mom offered to cut the crust off my sandwich.  Now, there are sandwich cutters that not only remove the crust but transform humble PBJ into two long neck dinosaurs.

Speaking of long necks, when did we get so many types of dinosaurs?  When I was a kid, there were five:  T-rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Pterodactyl, and Brachiosaurus. W hen did Ankylosaurus, Diplodocus, Iguanodon, Parasaurolophus, and Velocoraptor become household names?

There is plenty of blame to go around.  Pinterest, best-foot-forward Facebook updates and mommy blogs showcase thousands of ideas about how to be a craftier, more organized, hipper, better dressed, kinder, smarter, mother.

When it all becomes too much, I return to my faithful dictionary for some perspective.  Sometimes, definitions reveal a nuance or depth I didn’t know existed in a word.  Other times, definitions reveal that I’ve added a lot of meaning that isn’t actually there.

Mother is a word society has added a lot of baggage to.  It’s actually quite simple:

Mother: (noun) a female parent

If you’ve got boobs and a baby, you are a mother.  And, chances are, you are doing a great job.

Admittedly, there is some small print that Webster’s definition omits.  Worry.  Stretch marks.  Sleep deprivation.  Unidentifiable grime on your clothing.  That stuff is just part of the female parent deal.  But, the other stuff – the Pinterest stuff – that’s something else.

If you are melting crayons on canvas for homemade nursery décor, you are a mother artist (noun: a person who creates art).  If it would be appropriate to refer to the contents of your kid’s lunchbox as a “foodscape,” you are a mother chef (noun: a professional cook).  If you ensure the floor is free of clothes, crumbs, toys and dust bunnies, you are a mother housekeeper (noun: a person whose job is to manage the cleaning).  You can be a mom and an artist or a mom and a bento-box goddess, but motherhood does not require such skills any more than it requires you to play the trombone.

A mother’s ability to love is not reduced by mass-market art on the walls.  Her ability to engage her children in meaningful meal-time conversations is not influenced by the shape of the vegetables on the plates.  Whether or not children become good grown-ups has nothing to do with the number of dust bunnies hiding under their dressers.

Let’s celebrate the creativity of our friends when they create original art.  Let’s admire the knife skills of those who make radishes look like flowers.  Let’s envy clean floors and empty laundry hampers at the neighbor’s house.  But, let’s not mistake those things for mothering.

mom and kids

photo credit: Benton J. Melbourne

Keep it simple.

Be female and parent.

Save your cookie cutters for cookie dough.

Let the carrots be carrots.


Kristina Cerise is a mother of two, and she blogs at Defining Motherhood.

22 thoughts on “Guest Post: Kristina Cerise: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

  1. Amen to that! Never a truer word spoken. I don’t know why i look at Pinterest it just makes me feel like an inferior mum. My kids are happy and healthy- and don’t eat Panda shaped carrots! Thank you for this it has put a massive smile on my face today!

  2. Great post. I think the best parenting happens when you include the child in your ‘adult world’..Here, let me show you how we fold the laundry…;come help cook the veggies, etc. Trying to create a ‘kid world’ full of say, cookie cutter carrots, does not bring them happiness, eventual maturity, capability, etc. Moms should only do those things if they are truly enjoying doing them!

    • Agree. There are plenty of “frilly” things I do because they are fun. But, I have to be careful to actually check in with myself to make sure that I’m doing them for fun and not because of some sense of “should.” I’m with you. Some of my favorite memories are of doing work, joyfully, with my children.

  3. Amen! It seems that once upon “parent” was a noun that was not used so often as a verb. Now there is an entire industry dedicated to the action of it–parenting. Tiring and complicated!

  4. Agree!!!! I have never been on Pinterest!!! I know about it because it’s always in my news feed on Facebook. I love all my friends dearly and whatever their ways and beliefs may be on parenting and motherhood are fine by me. Whatever works for them is all that matters. I myself refuse to get caught up in all the expectations of being that mom that has it all together. I don’t have it all together and in my opinion not having it all together is the key to having it all together….yes I’m a mother and I’m human just like the rest of the world!!! I make mistakes and not only do I make a pbj like my mom did for me, there’s days I’ve put the sandwich in my sons lunchbox and then realize I forgot to put the jelly on!!!:) lol so as for cutting the crust off or making the sandwich look like a cute little shape, I would rather spend the time that would take talking to my son about the color of the leaves on the tree in our backyard. If we keep things as simple as we can as a mother, we can acknowledge the fact that motherhood is only as complicated as we choose to make it:) so here’s to keeping it simple!!!! So glad to have stumbled across this blog!!!! AWESOME LOVE IT!!!

  5. I love this post it fits perfectly with where I am at right now.
    Today I asked my almost 2 year old what he wanted to do, his response “bus”. I said ok and we took the bus to the shops instead of the car. He was so excited, saying “bus bus bus bus bus bus” all the time we were getting ready to go, all the way to the bus stop, all though out our bus ride finally slowing down to only the occasional bus as we shopped.
    That one simple trip gave him more enjoyment than any of the hand made toys I have made him, fun shaped cookies and crackers that I have made him and art projects I have tried doing with him.
    Often its the normal everyday boring things that he loves most, when I take the time to slow down talk and enjoy them with him.

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