Like most kids, my little ones love waffles and pancakes. We have a very strict rule that daddy makes the waffles and I the pancakes; it is a little tradition that we started somehow. Since pancakes are my special thing and I spend so much time on Pinterest, I decided on Valentines day I would surprise my kids with heart-shaped pancakes for lunch. Armed with a cleaned out honey bottle, I cranked out some cute heart shapes: no problem. My kids were delighted and I could tell they felt so special.
Little did I know that I had started something and soon my kids were making requests for all sorts of crazy pancake shapes. Sea creatures, very specific dinosaurs, their names, and of course more hearts. I had started something that I was not equipped to do…I am not the artist in the family, that would be my waffle making husband. I made the mistake of getting back on Pinterest before breakfast one day and I looked on with a sense of jealousy at the pancake art some mamas were talented enough to do. What had I done?
My first instinct was to say no, mainly to hide that moment of silly mama comparison…I am not that mama who armed with my squirt bottle makes perfect pancake art. Why had I started this? Why had no one warned me that I should have got a degree in food shapes before having kids? I could say no… I mean they can’t expect me to be good at everything! But after looking into my kids’ faces, dirty already in the morning sun with whisks in hand so excited at the prospect of silly pancakes, I knew I had to try.
Raz wanted a Spinosaurus (did I even spell that anywhere near correct, now I am supposed to make it from a thin batter) complete with a fish to eat and other sea creatures. Lola wanted a heart and her name (I was feeling really grateful for her simple taste at this point, I can kind of do hearts) and they both insisted that Gustuf needed a heart and a Kraken (because his spirit animals are all the eight legged octopods of the sea). Reluctantly I grabbed the honey bottle and set to work.
And guess what, despite my mama meltdown over my lack of pancake art skills I had fun! My pancake art was hardly Pinterest worthy, and yes the kids poked fun of my pancake art, but by the end while we gathered at our table with maple syrup in hand the smile on thier faces made me happy I did not say no. They were so tickled I had done this for them. They did not care that it was not perfect.
The thing is that perfection was not even the point, I just naturally felt that stressful “will this be good enough?” for some reason. As mamas we have years of conditioning telling us that our goal is to do things close to perfect or not at all. We have been conditioned to compare ourselves and with all that baggage thrown in even the process of funny shaped pancakes can on its own be anxiety inducing. But sometimes sea creature pancakes are just pancakes that happen to be silly. They are not going in a muesum to be ogled for years, they are not going to competition to be judged against other pancakes…they serve only a few purposes; to make our family smile, to serve as a little something to brighten our days, a silly creative outlet amoung the mundane day to day, and to be simply yummy.
So as we cleaned up the table I had this thought, it felt really good to let go of perfection and have some fun! It felt nice to make fun of myself a bit and to just enjoy a silly creative pleasure that made my kids smile. How much do we miss out on because of perfectionism? I had a mom tell me once that she wished she could have enjoyable afternoons spent crafting with her kids but she can’t because she feels stressed the whole time because the projects Evernote turn out. Another mama said baking was stressful because the fear of it not turning out. Sometimes I myself will put off sewing just because I know it will not turn out perfect and so I am actually avoiding something I enjoy just because I don’t want to disappoint myself! Even my husband always seems to have some moments where the want for his garden to be perfectly productive steals the joy of doing it. What if we just let go of that and just didn’t things to enjoy them? What if we celebrated the imperfection because it meant that we tried something new or used the energy to ejnjoy it more vs worrying about the end result?
Now of course we want to improve, to hone skills and master new things. I am certainly not suggesting we never try to get better or that we wanting good result is a negative thing. Just maybe we need to be very intentional about what things demand that striving for the best and know at what cost it isn’t worth it. And maybe it isn’t ok that a spinosaurus pancake is not recognizable not to anyone but the excited 6 year old who is happily eating it.