At 37 weeks pregnant, I finally decided to start thinking about getting our nursery set-up and packing my hospital bag. We had a crib and a changing table set-up, but the rest of the baby’s room was essentially just piles of tiny baby things pushed to the sides of the room. Hopefully procrastinating doesn’t make me a bad mommy, otherwise I’m already off to a bad start.
To be honest, part of my procrastination stemmed from feeling overwhelmed. As a first time mom, I had no clue where to start. Step one? Popping onto Pinterest and a few of my favorite mommy blogs. I’m sure almost any mom has taken this stroll through the interwebs, laptop perched on top of a burgeoning baby bump.
What I found simultaneously produced delight and anxiety. Everything was so cute and picture perfect. Every nursery was themed with color coordinated sheets and furniture, and everything from giant murals to antique chandeliers (A few examples here and here). Cue several hours of frantically searching Amazon and Pottery Barn. Yes, I needed to find the perfect sheepskin rug to pull of my sophisticated yet fun nursery. And nothing compliments sheepskin like gold animal shaped drawer pulls and a lucite bookcase. Or maybe a statement piece for the wall to really set the tone for a potential nautical theme? Did Janie and Jack sell baby sized captain hats?
Of course nothing brings you back to reality like your shopping cart total when you go to check out. A thousand dollars for baby decorations was a little too much to swallow given that I regularly cruise the day old baked good shelf at Harris Teeter. As someone who struggles not to show-up to afternoon meetings with the remnants of my lunch smeared somewhere on my dress, setting up a dry clean only faux sheepskin rug in my nursery is probably akin to placing a bullseye target on the floor for future spit-up and blowout incidents. And a nautical theme might not be the most genuine given that the only boat my husband has ever shown interest in is a cruise ship.
A few months ago, I made the decision to take a break from Instagram. While I love flipping through beautiful pictures of fresh flowers, exotic trips, and expensive yet artfully mussed up hair cuts… I was starting to feel this pressure to present a life that lived up to some undefined standard that had been set. Except I don’t go to brunch every weekend and my idea of dressing up on the weekends is wearing my good sweatpants, you know the ones without the torn up bottoms. It was making a part of me feel like my life wasn’t good enough or pretty enough to share. And I’ll tell you what; I really haven’t missed it.
I realized that this moment on Pinterest was the exact same thing. If the idea of creating a beautiful nursery was freaking me out, why was I trying to do it? To score some likes on Facebook? To feel the satisfaction of having my friends coo over how creative I was? Would my son even care about whether he has an adorable pendant banner draped across his crib? Of course not. He’s going to care about whether or not I’m there to feed him when he’s hungry and to comfort him when he cries.
As we start to build our new life as a family, I know this is a tension I will struggle with. I read and enjoyed Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the main takeaway of which is to buy and keep things that spark joy. For me, happy colors and fun patterns do spark joy. I do want our son’s room to be fun and to look cute. But how to find the balance between sparking joy for me and our child, versus trying to compete in a picture perfect world?
I guess it all comes down to intent. Grounding myself in the “why” behind my decisions as to how I spend my money and my time. Am I doing this for my son and me, or am I trying to curate and create the lifestyle the internet tells me I should be living? And don’t get me wrong, I know that for plenty of moms, having a beautiful nursery and a baby dressed in adorable matching outfits brings them joy. And when they share their pictures on Facebook, I’ll admire them and like them, and hope they’ll do the same for all my pictures which will likely be of a haphazardly dressed child playing with old rolls of toilet paper.