Permission To Stop Cutting Sandwiches Into Darling Shapes

Aren’t gingerbread houses the worst?

That’s the question a mom posed to a room of women as we were chatting before Bible Study today.

We were all a little perplexed since it’s not Christmastime. None of us had been working on gingerbread houses lately. A short explanation later and we all nodded in agreement.

The “gingerbread house” is anything we feel we’re supposed to do, but don’t really have the interest in doing and it adds way more stress than reward.

For my friend, it was the gingerbread house.


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That’s so funny to me because I have some fond memories of making elaborate gingerbread houses every year. My mom had a pattern she laid across the cookie sheet of baked gingerbread. She would cut out each piece carefully. She would make sure to have ribbon candy (to make the smokestack, of course) and gumdrops. She must have found some joy in making this happen or I don’t think we would have done it.

I think the secret to our enjoyment of this process was that it was so imperfect and we loved the houses for it. We always put the wrong pieces together first. Every time I would mistake the roof for the walls and have to take it apart and put it back together. One year, as my friend Liz and I were working on our houses, I decided it would be a great idea to put the picture of a Christian singer in the window of my house. We had no pressure of needing to post a perfect picture online for everyone to admire.

Do you know what my mom never tried to do? She never even considered working on a fancy gingerbread house with toddlers. We didn’t do this until we were in our late teen years. And if we had hated doing it, she would not have hesitated to stop doing them altogether.

Because who needs to the craziness of doing something difficult that no one enjoys?

I see moms doing this all the time.

It might be a literal gingerbread house. If you hate doing them, may I give you permission to outsource that project to someone else or stop altogether? I promise your children will still have a great childhood.

Maybe it’s the PTA position you agreed to because no one else seemed to be willing to step up to the plate, but the thought of going to the PTA meeting makes you want to lock yourself in your closet.

Perhaps you feel pressure to cut your children’s lunch items into cute geometric shapes and you feel great shame because your shapes are unrecognizable. Who knew that the way a parent prepared a child’s lunch could cause such shame and distress?


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Feel free to stop doing that right now unless it brings you lots of joy. Do you know what brings me joy? Lunchables or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (no cute shapes involved). You are welcome, friends. You never have to feel like your child’s lunch doesn’t measure up if you hang out with me.

This is not being a failure as a mother. There are lots of ways we can fail in parenting, but the shape of your child’s sandwich is not one of them.

So, let me hear it. What’s your “gingerbread house”?


One thought on “Permission To Stop Cutting Sandwiches Into Darling Shapes

  1. Wow. Parenting is really a lot harder with the advent of the internet and everyone posting their cool successes and making others who don’t do that sort of thing feel somehow less worthy. In my child rearing years is was simply social get togethers where parents talked about all the things their kids had accomplished, making me feel that my kids were somehow inadequate (and we know now they weren’t!).

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