Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Being Brave... To Not Compare

Chances are, more than one of us has had this inner dialogue...

"I wish I was that mom, the one over there with the pretty hair (does she blow dry it every day??) and the put-together outfit. She looks happy too, she's always smiling. She probably doesn't yell at her kids or lose her temper with her husband. Wow, and she works out too?? I really feel like a loser..."

We all do this, don't we? As kids we did it, as teens we did it, and now we do it as moms. We compare ourselves to others, and it's so divisive. It divides our friendships and damages our peace of mind.

As moms, we are over-worked and under-appreciated. We're tired, and often dealing with a plethora of emotions and stressors, and because of that, are propelled into a very insecure state. Once in this state, we are then surrounded by other moms, all with unique gifts and qualities, and we notice.

But then we forget something vital: we are also unique and gifted.

Forgetting our own individuality, we focus on the seeming perfection of others, and remind ourselves of our own failures. We convince ourselves that we are the only one who... fill in the blank here. We assume that another mom isn't dealing with our issues, because her outfit says otherwise. Her outfit.

It's silly, really. But it's not, because it's very real. When we ought to be supporting and encouraging each other in this Mom Role, we instead foster jealousy for others, all the while putting down ourselves.

My fellow Mom: be confident in you! You are uniquely made and placed on this earth at precisely this time in history with the exact kids God wants for you to parent.

A few years ago I had to come to terms with some things about myself. If I was going to parent confidently, without comparing or slipping into a depression because of my need for perfection, I had to be real and honest with myself and with others. Here are some truths about me (as an act of self-love, I challenge you to make your own list of truths - be honest):

  • I hate the park. The idea of taking my kids to the park and sitting there while they play literally bores me right out of my friggin mind.
  • I enjoy knitting, but I despise any other kind of craft, especially paper crafts. 
  • I like Pinterest for pictures of food and finding recipes and storing recipes. I usually skip the craft stuff. But to each their own!
  • I love to cook. It's just my thing. 
  • I hate folding laundry. I do it, but I don't have to like it. I refuse to iron. 
  • I can be obsessive. I have to monitor my "hobbies" as they can quickly become obsessions. 
  • I yell at my kids when I'm frustrated (the first step to changing something about yourself is to admit it, so I admit this. I have yet to figure out another mode of venting, however)
  • I very rarely allow paint and play dough to be played with in my house. 
  • I enjoy being active, but I can't actually call it "exercise" or I won't do it.
  • I love to sing, but I'm not good at it. I also can't seem to recall any songs that are appropriate to sing to a baby when I'm put in that position. 

Here's how this helps me to be a better mom; I look at this list, and realize what my weaknesses are, and that it's OK. When I accept that I'm not perfect, that I'm not my own idealized version of what a mom should be, then I am free. With my list (which is not exhaustive), I can redefine what it means to be a mom. I accept me as a unique woman created to be who I am right now to my kids.

So I don't like the park? So what? Instead of wallowing in my "failure" and comparing myself to moms who like to take their kids to the park, I do something different. I take my kids to the mall. I love the mall, and so do they! Or I take my kids to KidSpace, or to Costco, or to a friend's house to play. I can go all down this list, and instead of shaming myself for what I'm not, I look at what I am.

Moms, be you. Don't be me, and don't be that other girl. Chances are, she and I don't have it all together. Those areas where you are rocking life? Those are probably the areas I struggle in.

Have grace for that other girl, even if her hair is pretty. And have grace for yourself, even when you haven't showered for the third day in a row. We are all doing life, and life is hard. We are all trying to be brave, even when we don't feel like it. Instead of focusing on what we aren't, let's look at what we are, and celebrate it! When we love and appreciate who we are, we are so much better equipped to love someone else, without comparing.

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