In Defense of Mommy Magic

A few months ago, when I actually started writing this post, there was an article making it's way around social media hubs about how the author is done making her kid's childhood magical. It talked about the pressure moms put on ourselves these days to create picture perfect childhood moments and memories that are Pinterest and blog worthy, and that the motivations behind these efforts might be less about the children, and more about creating a perfect mommy image.

me and my mommy
There was some talk that the birthday parties and craft activities are purely for the moms's benefit, as the children are too young to remember these activities. Well, I know my mom created lots of magic in my childhood, and I do remember some of if from before the age of three. She used to cut up various shapes out of colored construction paper and let me paste them on to another sheet, encouraging my creativity. I know I had plenty of time to be curious on my own as well, as I'm often reminded with stories of messes created with honey, oatmeal and toilet paper. But the thing I can actually remember happening in the house I lived in until I was three is playing those construction paper shapes my mom cut for me.

She planned elaborate birthday parties, and when I was old enough, I joined in the planning. As soon as Christmas was packed away, we would spend the next three months inventing games like Garfield Bingo made from copies of comics saved from the paper, and crafting individual favors like personalized autograph books for my celebrity themed birthday party. We would shop together at discount stores for the perfect assortment of prizes to be awarded for all of our games.

one of those embarrassing photos
The birthday magic continued well into adolescence, and even to this day. On my 16th birthday, my mom conspired with my best friends to embarrass me throughout the school day. Yes, with her, magic does sometimes go hand in hand with humiliation! She printed a selection of baby and toddler photos of me, wrapped them up, and had a different friend hand me one along with a balloon, at the beginning of each class all day long. Of course, the rule was that everyone around needed to see baby Jenny. By the end of the day, I was walking around with an enormous bunch of balloons, and was loving every minute of the attention.

decorating my own cake at 38 years old
I always decorated my own birthday cakes, as well as making the games, favors and invitations. Last year, my mom was visiting on my 38th birthday. She baked my favorite cake and then sat me down at the dining room table with frosting and a variety of decorations, excited to see what I would come up with.

So, you see, even to this day, I appreciate the magic that my mom has always brought to my life.

I understand that kids need free time to use their own imaginations, to explore and be creative, but they also need to feel special and loved, and to know that their parents will go to special efforts just for them. There is a lot of pressure on women to have it all—to create magic childhoods, gourmet clean food meals, keep a perfectly naturally cleaned and organized house, all while maintaining a gratifying career outside the household. While I might appear to have the crafty/artsy/picture perfect birthday party side of things under control from what you see on this blog, let me just tell you, that I do not excel in all of these areas. For way too long, dinners around here were frozen chicken and frozen sweet potato fries on a cookie sheet with frozen broccoli in the microwave. Clean laundry sits in baskets for days, and I am the queen of Clorox wipes.

I am a designer, an artist and a crafter, and I enjoy creating magic for my son using my skill set hoping to instill an appreciation for these things in him—something we can enjoy together for years to come. Magic can come from a lot of places. A mom who is an excellent chef can create shared cooking experiences. A mom who is an athlete can shoot hoops or kick the soccer ball with her kids. All of these things are magical.

I share these magical moments here because I enjoy searching resources just like this one to get new ideas, and I imagine there are people out there like me who feel the same way. I want other moms to be inspired and to know it doesn't have to be difficult to create a little crafty magic, and it doesn't have to be perfect. Do I have a secret hope that my efforts will be considered worthy of a pin? Would I love to be able to make a business out of my artsy/crafty designerness someday? Sure. Is this my main motivation for creating magic for Leo? Not in the least, or I would be a heck of a lot more up to date with sharing what we've been up to than I am.

So, here's to Mommy Magic. Because, isn't seeing a gleeful smile as the result of our efforts one of the best gifts of parenthood after all?


  1. Girlfriend. I have a post verrrry similar to this in my drafts and I started it when I read that same article (huff post?). I feel like people try to stop the mommy wars by waging war on the crafty mom! It is kind of ridiculous. I don't craft with my daughter just to show it off on FB or my blog. I craft because I like it. My mom crafted with me and I have so many fond memories of us doing fun things like that together. We still do things like make our own Christmas cards together. It's just what we like. Like you said, there are things that I really suck at doing that I wish I was better at. Meal planning, cleaning my kitchen and cooking to name a few. Anyway, I am rambling. But all of this to say that I totally understand where you are coming from!

    Oh, and clorox wipes for the win!

  2. I think it's wonderful if parents create magic for their kids. Like you say, it's all about what you are good at and enjoy. I too am not a chef. I like pretend, reading, playing chase and hide & seek. I like taking my son out in nature and watch him explore and get excited about seeing new animals. You don't have to go overboard to make some magic - kids appreciate the little things (until they are teens). ;)


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