There are certain things that most of us can assume everybody likes. Puppies. The Beatles. Cupcakes. But a group of mean moms reportedly got so bent out of shape about another woman’s fancy, homemade cupcakes that they tattled on her to the principal, because apparently we are not better or more mature people than our very small children.
The cupcake maker wrote in to Carolyn Hax at the Washington Post to ask what she is supposed to do now that she, a grown-ass woman, has gotten in trouble with the principal for making excessively fancy cupcakes.
The cupcake maker said that she is an avid hobbyist baker, and her son is in fourth grade, so she is always willing to bring snacks for class celebrations whenever it is her turn to do so. Because baking is a hobby for her, she goes all-in and makes fancy, decorated cupcakes. Last time she did so, however, the principal pulled her aside and told her to stop doing so, because the other mothers were complaining that she was making their cupcakes look bad.
When her turn came around again, this mother brought in “less elaborate” cupcakes, but still she says she got the stink-eye.
“How should I deal with this?” she asked. “Can I go back to more elaborate stuff, since it seems nothing short of Milanos will make these people feel better about themselves?”
I refuse to admit the possibility that we have fallen so far as a species that “cupcake shaming” is a thing now, but the letter writer says she suspects some of the nasty comments are due to the fact that she works part time from home, and she and her husband are “significantly less wealthy” than most of the other parents at the school.
“I have heard things like, ‘Must be nice to have that much free time,’ and (when she thought I couldn’t hear her), ‘She just does this because it’s all she has,'” the cupcake maker explained.
That sort of comment and behavior is utterly unacceptable. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, and we all have our own hobbies, avocations, and interests. Just because two people’s interests and skill sets do not overlap in the same areas does not make it OK to slam how someone else chooses to spend her efforts.
If someone told me to stop making baby costumes, I would probably get pretty huffy and start making tiny little Marie Antoinette costumes with light-up embellishments, and Elsa from Frozen gowns that actually shoot ice cubes, because I am petty like that. If I were this cupcake-maker, for the next class celebration everyone would be getting tiny miniature wedding cakes with sparklers on top, because fancier cupcakes are the best revenge.
Some parents are good at sports. Some parents speak a lot of languages. Some parents have big, exciting, important jobs. We can’t all do everything. I wouldn’t tell another parent to stop keeping a clean house because it made me feel bad about my squalor, or to tell another mother to stop being a pediatric neurosurgeon because it was making me feel bad about my shrimpy paycheck and liberal arts degree.
As a corollary, anyone snarking another parent for bringing Milanos or insufficiently fancy cupcakes deserves a cream pie to the face.
We should all just be using our skills, interests, and time as we see fit, and not being jerks about the way other people use theirs. This is especially true when there are kids around. We’re supposed to model the behavior we want to see from our children, and if we go around snarking at each other for being too Pinteresty or not Pinteresty enough, we’re going to raise a bunch of nasty little bullies.
And on a certain level, I suspect this sort of “cupcake shaming” is another example of the sexist double standard parents face. We’ve seen this sort of malarky before with parents who like to draw on their children’s lunch bags. When a mother draws complicated cartoons on every lunch bag, she is told that she isn’t spending enough time on her children, or she is bored or desperate for attention. When a father sends his kids to school with cute drawings on every lunch bag, he’s the parent of the year.
I would be willing to bet actual money that if a father showed up with a tray full of homemade cupcakes with sugar flowers and tiny fondant Adventure Time characters on them, nobody would be complaining to the principal or snarking, “Well that’s all he has.”
(Photo: GlobalStock/iStockPhoto/Getty Images)