Why We Love Our Elf on the Shelf
**Warning-- "a cranky, I've had it rant" follows** Hang with me, OK? :)
Well here we are, not a day into the month of December and already I've seen more bitterness about what some moms do over others in terms of the Christmas season. I've already read an ugly handful of articles that mock moms just like me, with dozens of people patting them on the back.
And you know what? I'm already sick of it. Sick of the idea that if someone decides something is right for THEIR family, that it must be how it should be done across the board, that somehow certain moms were granted with a supernatural knowledge that the rest of us poor souls were left without. I'm sick of it being OK to mock any mother that goes above and beyond what "you" are choosing (or willing) to do. To me, it equates to making fun of (bullying) the kids in school who did the extra credit (that would be me, all day long).
It seems not so long ago that a mom's principle job in life was "childhood/home/husband management," and she was celebrated for it. Time spent making dinners, celebrating birthdays (in simple or over the top ways), decorating for Christmas, making memories was an important part of being a parent -- a mom specifically. And now it seems like for those of us who continue to make this our top priority, we're judged harshly for it if you put too much effort into it... like our time is better spent making a buck or investing in anyone BUT our children.
Don't get me wrong, I completely believe that God calls women to all sorts of rolls in life (just read Proverbs 31), so I don't think it's a matter of working mom vs. stay at home mom, because I am both. These "what some do vs. what others do" seem to come down to "I'm a better mom because I do/don't/avoid/go all out and if you think otherwise... you're wrong!"
Somewhere along the way, going above and beyond, no matter the reason, became showing off.
Take my favorite example, the Elf on the Shelf. It seems that not only do you love it or hate it but that you LOVE it, or you judge a mother who does it as a time waster, an over-the-top show off who has nothing better to do with her time. Yep, anyone who knows me knows that sounds JUST like me (sarcasm).
Well you know what? My principle job in life is to create memories for my kids. Happy ones. My own childhood was full of darkness and I work hard to make sure there are as few dark corners in my children's lives as possible.
Critics of the Elf tradition will tell you that it's:
--a waste of time. (It makes a lot of fun memories for my ENTIRE family, the opposite of a waste of time for me. Doug and I would probably still do it if it was just us.)
--that it's a waste of money (It doesn't have to cost anything; you can purchase any elf or doll to do it with, or make your own.)
--that it's for moms with nothing better to do with their time (Not only is making memories and orchestrating childhoods my main job, but I have several other part time jobs on top of that; I MAKE the time to do things that make my children happy.)
--that people use it to manipulate their children into behaving (Not in this house. For us it's more like "Elf hide and seek," my kids have no connection between the elf and good behavior. We address behavior in a constant 12 months a year kind of way.)
--that it adds to the lies that surrounds Christmas (My kids know the truth about Santa, have always known the truth, and know that the elf is a fun Christmas game to play. We have a general life policy about not lying to our children.)
--that it creates an extra "chore" to do around the holidays (I don't see bringing joy to my kids as a chore, especially considering that people are FREE to choose their level of elf involvement. Why else would we have birthday parties or egg hunts or Christmas trees?)
What will I say about you if you don't "elf"?
It's not my business or concern what you do or don't do for your kids. I'm too busy "wasting time" making memories for my kids to concern myself with what my neighbors are doing in that sense.
I won't stand here and mock any parents choice of holiday activities because I like to be a nice person and assume that we're all doing the best we can with the hardest job ever created (parenthood!!!).
I won't participate in the bully tactics that coordinate with questioning another parents choices, especially when it comes to something as silly as Elf on the shelf.
What will I share about our "elf experience"
It's way fun. We spend 15-30 minutes a day on it. We don't see it as a chore. Our kids get their morning jobs done 1-2-3 because they want to RUN downstairs to find our what the elf is doing. We don't use it to manipulate or scare our children into behaving. They know he's not "real" but like they do with all of their stuffed animals and action figures, he becomes real to them. He makes their season a little more festive and fun.
And if you don't do it? That's ok. We can still be friends. And I won't assume you're terrible.
Promise. End of rant.