I saw your post and I've been thinking about it ever since. It's one of those thoughts that's making me anxious, because I have so much to say about it and since I don't know you personally, I can't get it all off my chest. Your dilemma isn't huge and you've acknowledged that there are much bigger problems in the world but at the same time, you've said you now feel 'like a terrible mother' and, in my opinion, that's pretty serious.
So your son is approaching his first birthday and in all the chaos of moving house and everything that goes with it, you've realised that you won't have enough time to order him a custom birthday cake. You're now left with the horrifying prospect of presenting him with a shop-bought cake. On top of that, you're worried that the presents you've bought him, albeit expensive, 'don't look like much'. You said you've seen so many pictures of beautiful custom cakes and huge stacks of presents from other mums on Facebook and you feel guilty that you're not giving your son the same. You feel like a terrible mother, and that's the part I can't stop thinking about.
I'm going to state the obvious and I'm sure this is something that you've probably been trying to drill into your own head too. Your son is almost one. He doesn't know or care if his cake is custom-made, shop bought or if it's a cadbury's mini roll with a candle on top. He doesn't care if he has a huge pile of presents - let's face it, he'll probably play with one of them for a few seconds and then spend the rest of the afternoon going in and out of the cardboard box it came in.
The thing is, you don't want the custom cake for your son. You want the custom cake and the huge pile of presents to impress the other mums on Facebook. You want to meet their standard of a 'good mum' - the mum that goes all-out for every birthday and Christmas, who has angelic, over-achieving children and the perfect (photogenic) family life.
What you probably don't realise is that each and every mum on facebook has probably had their own variation of your problem. They're all trying to meet that standard. A standard unconsciously created by themselves. A competition that none of them ever wanted to enter but one where they now find themselves both the participant and the judge. Everyone is trying to compete and it's not because they want to brag or make you feel inferior, it's because they don't want to feel inferior themselves.
It's worth mentioning that you went into a secret group on facebook to vent about this. A group where no one knows each other, and everyone has their guard down. It's almost like you stepped back from the fake world of Facebook and whispered your question to the real world, before adjusting your 'mum of the year' badge and heading back in with a huge fake smile.
I suggest you keep stepping back from that fake world and keep going until you are no longer in it. You don't need anyone to judge your parenting. It's not up to them to decide whether you're a good mum or not. When deciding what to get your son for his birthday, think about what would make him happy, not everyone else. You'll probably find that that's your love, your attention, your time. Spend the day playing with a new toy, singing happy birthday and he'll be over the moon.
Instead of posting a photo of a huge pile of presents and an overpriced cake, post a picture of your happy, smiling boy on his birthday. Don't enter the competition, set a new standard of your own. Let's face it, anyone who thinks any less of you for it isn't worth your time anyway. If you stick two fingers up to the mum competition, the chances are other mums will feel encouraged to do it too. If you want to post something about your boy's birthday, think about your reasons for posting it and if you find you're doing it for validation from others, stop. Take a step back and remember you don't need it.
Being a mum is hard enough as it is without that added pressure. Letting go of that competitiveness will be like a weight off your shoulders and will give you the freedom to follow your gut instinct and just do what makes you and your son happy. That's all that matters.
Have any of you felt the need to compete against other mums on facebook?