I’ve just finished browsing the Family Fun magazine and couldn’t find their mission statement anywhere.
At least I couldn’t find the mission statement I think Family Fun magazine should have: “A Disney publication dedicated to making good parents insecure.”
Let me back up and explain.
Six years ago I birthed Uno. She was practically perfect in every way. I was scared I was practically hopeless as a parent in every way.
I read everything I could get my hands on about how to be a great mom, mostly because I grew up in a retirement community as the youngest in my family and my opportunities (and interest) for spending time with small children had been, up to that point, ahem… limited.
(Alright, alright! I’ll admit it! Until Uno was born I’d never changed a diaper.)
(Until Bubby was born last week I’d never changed a boy’s diaper. My life has been very sheltered.)
So, there I was, a hormonal, youngish mother, just trying to do the best to provide opportunities and good stuff for my kid. I picked up a copy of Family Fun one day in the doctor’s office waiting room.
“Oh! This looks like a fun magazine to read!” I thought to myself. “I’m a part of a family and I like to have fun, I’m the target audience!”
I flipped the pages. Each one was filled with fantastic, ridiculously creative ideas of how to create a picture-perfect childhood for your progeny. It’s like Pinterest on methamphetamines.
There were crafts. A lot of crafts. My armpits soon started to sweat, joined shortly by the backs of my knees. My fingers trembled and my scalp itched.
If this magazine was parenting at its best, I was definitely going to fail. Badly. Horribly.
And there would be a distinct lack of “ants on a log,” plaster of paris hand print projects, and do-it-yourself clothing decorations to prove my failure.
When I got home and, in tears with snot pouring from my nose, confessed to Lizard I would never be a “good enough” mom to our kids because I wasn’t a Family Fun magazine mom, he gathered me into his arms, clucked softly, smoothed my hair, and said:
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you say.”
It made me feel much better. I banned Family Fun magazine from my life. Haven’t looked back.
Fast forward to 2012.
A few weeks ago my mom showed up at my house with a copy of Family Fun.
“Look at this magazine!” she crowed. “It’s full of so many good ideas – and it’s on special, I can get you 74 gazillion issues for 1¢!”
“Don’t do it! Please don’t give it to me!” I quickly told her. “I hate that magazine! It’s designed to make you feel like a bad parent! Disney is the anti-Christ!”
“What are you talking about? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you say,” my mother told me. “Stop being so melodramatic! You like crafts!”
Remember when Scooby-Doo would raise his head and go, “Argh?” like “huh?!” Yeah, that’s what I did to my mom.
“Me thinkest thou knowest not to whom you are speaking…” I carefully told her.
You see, my mom loves to craft. She’s particularly fond of turning styrofoam balls into quilted decorations using little pieces of fabric and pearls. Every year leading up to Christmas she makes them as decorative gifts for her friends and family.
When you call her on the phone any time during the month of November and ask her what she’s doing she’ll make a happy noise deep in her throat and say, “Oh, I’m just playing with my balls.”
Freaks me out, without fail.
Long story short, crafts make my mom happy and she did her best to pass on the love of crafting to her children.
With me it just didn’t take.
Granted, I am capable of doing almost any craft if I have to. On occasion I even enjoy crafting. I’d love to have time and physical space to quilt, sew, and cross-stitch! (There’s even a tooth fairy pillow I’m downright proud of from a MOPS meeting last fall.)
But when it comes to crafts, I always get stuck on the same point: once you’ve finished your project you have to do something with it.
This is the reason I didn’t get a belly cast done during any of my pregnancies. The concept is cool and I’d love to have the tactile memory of the enormity of my stomach when it has an alien resident, but once the belly cast is done… what do you do with it?
Hang it on the living room wall? Put it in your kid’s room as a chair? Set it outside as a bird bath? Perhaps serve a stew in it every year on your child’s birthday?
All of these solutions are problematic. Nothing quite fits for the final resting place of the belly cast.
My crafting philosophy at this stage in life? Unless I have a specific plan for the craft’s disposal, it’s not going to get done around here. And glitter is not allowed.
My mom and I had a little more discussion about Family Fun magazine. I told her it was a mean-spirited publication designed to make parents feel “less than” if they didn’t have completely coördinated birthday parties or the ability to make a full-sized model of the Eiffel Tower with hand-painted popsicle sticks.
She maintained I’d love the magazine and it was simply my own immaturity keeping me from diving headlong into the world of color coordination and childhood memory-making.
(True words, spoken by the woman who put my baby pictures away somewhere safe and now can’t find them at all. The only picture I have of myself as an infant is in my dad’s wallet, discolored, faded and all family members are wearing polyester leisure suits. I am bald.)
We finally agreed to disagree about Family Fun, crafting, and my maturity level. The topic dropped. Life went on.
Guess what I got in the mail yesterday? Family Fun magazine.
I imagine it’s the first of the 74 gazillion issues she got for 1¢. All delivered, in my name, right to my doorstep.
I’m so lucky.
Anyone want to come over and craft? You bring the hot glue gun, I’ll provide the glitter.