Have you ever compared yourself to another mom? I certainly have and, boy…it is not fun! Why should we avoid comparison as moms? And why is it so easy to fall into? Here’s an example. I’m driving my son to his babysitter, so I can work and look back in the rear view mirror. I realize I forgot to brush my son’s hair. The hair is more or less clean, and this really won’t bother the babysitter, but still I instantly I think of another mom friend. She has seven kids and has never forgotten to brush her youngest’s hair before dropping him off at my house for a play date. The next feeling is embarrassment which I brush off quickly. Having been a teacher has taught me to power through embarrassment. Yet, a gnawing feeling of inadequacy lingered awhile. The smallest things can set off this comparison cycle. For example, realizing I forgot to make my sick husband lunch to take to work like I said I would – a mistake that my mind whispers to me another friend would never have made. Another time a tutoring student sat down at my kitchen table onto a pile of cracker crumbs. In a split second my mind was picturing a friend’s mom growing up who had impeccable standards for hospitality that certainly didn’t include cracker crumbs!
If you have other mom friends or have read other mom blogs, you have heard that as moms we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other moms. But…if you can’t help yourself, just make sure to compare yourself to someone doing worse than you are …. just kidding! Seriously, I have read many helpful articles on how comparison can be a killer for moms, and in my life that is totally true! The faster I can get out of a harsh comparison cycle the better for me and my family.
Comparison Brings Shame
Why should we avoid comparison as moms? The simple answer is that judging yourself using someone doing better than you are for the purpose of motivating yourself to do better just hardly ever works. Comparing yourself to other moms typically produces either arrogance (probably not you if you are reading this) or feelings of inadequacy and shame. Feelings of inadequacy and shame are terrible motivators for changing behaviors!! Both naturally trick you into wasting your mental and emotional energy on thinking badly about yourself.
For example, let’s say my toddler has given up eating fruits and veggies entirely. Should I address that? Yes, of course. But running comparisons in my mind between my toddler and my friend’s who eats broccoli for breakfast, takes the mental energy I could use for solving my problem and wastes it on making me feel bad about myself.
So, what can we do instead of comparison?
Examine Your Priorities
If an area of your motherhood needs adjustment, the first thing to do is reexamine your priorities. Ask yourself, do I need to readjust my priorities? Do I truly have a problem, or is this issue really an appropriate working out of my priorities? Time is a limited resource and not everything can be a top priority. For example, if my porch hasn’t been swept in two weeks, is it because I spent the time on investing in my marriage (higher on the list) or on facebook waiting for the dryer to finish (lower on the list)? If you haven’t cooked a homemade dinner in three months because you took up Netflix as a new hobby, that is a totally different situation than if you’ve purchased ready-to-eat Costco food for three months so that you can survive single-momming it in the evenings while your husband finishes his degree to get a better job.
Find Sources of Inspiration
Finally, find sources of inspiration for yourself as a mom. Inspiration feels totally different than a judgemental comparison. Inspiration brings vision, hope, and passion into an area of your life. Inspiration starts with the assumption that I am enough for the mission of motherhood. Mistakes are mistakes and not a reflection of me as a mother. On the other hand, shame starts with the assumption that I am the only one that is not enough for motherhood and mistakes confirm who I really am. You may find inspiration in prayer, friends, biographies, blogs, or classes. I would also encourage you to find mom heros to inspire you. Use these Moms’ successes as ways not to judge yourself but to raise your expectations and give you new ideas and new confidence.
On of our Mommy Contributors, Aimee, is by nature a very competitive person. She loves sports, loves achievement and has struggled with comparison throughout her life. Aimee is a big proponent of allowing wonderful moms in her life to bring powerful inspiration rather than feelings of inadequacies. The fact of life is that every mom is going to be great at certain things and shine in certain ways. No one mom is going to have it all together. One mom might be amazing cook but unable to keep her house clean, another can throw incredible parties but can’t seem to keep things organized. Like in life, we each have God-given gifts and skills we have developed over time. In the same way we must learn to embrace and enjoy our kids for who they are, let’s say no to Mommy comparing, enjoy ourselves for who we are and at the same time take delight in what we can glean and learn from other great moms!
Mommy Medicine is a group of moms that love encouraging each other and sharing tips about the adventure of motherhood. Have a topic you would like to see covered? We would love to hear from you! Subscribe here to receive posts straight to your inbox!
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/15/2019)
Donnie Ray Jones (Flickr)