Just last week when I was picking up my kids from school, I happen to overhear (I’m a nosy one, so I intentionally eavesdropped) several moms talking about how busy their mornings/early afternoons had been.
One mom stated that she had baked over 200 cookies for her daughter’s church youth group. One mom stated that with her husband away in Afghanistan, that she had to fix the leaky faucet herself while managing their family business. And the last mom was retelling the small group with tremendous excitement that she had just received a promotion at her job that would require her to travel up to 150 days out of the year.
As I was peering in on their conversation, I started to sink. I started to sink into my “feel sorry for me” mode as my children’s mother. Why? Because at that moment of hearing these women, these moms, I had fallen into the comparison trap. What’s the comparison trap?
I describe the trap as this:
You compare your like situations (this situation being we are all moms) to one another. The first mom baked enough cookies to feed the other mom’s husband and his troop, the second mom is juggling a household of repairs while managing a business AND raising kids…all on her own, and the last mom was a top performer at her job away from home as well as tending to her family.
I took a look at myself: I stay at home with my kids. If I can get the floor mopped by week’s end, I’m feeling very fortunate. The clothes in the dryer? Oh those wrinkled things? They’ve been sitting in there for over two days now. And the dishes in the sink are starting to let off a foul odor of the morning’s egg and bacon feast.
The comparison trap quickly started to eat away at me. Why am I failing as a woman/mom when these women are clearly victorious in their own lives? I can’t even get the mundane tasks accomplished in the eight hours my kids are away at school, but these ladies are helping to make the world a better place by their skills I wasn’t even lucky enough to be blessed with?
As I plucked my kids out of the sea of children, I grasped their hands as we walked away from their school. As I was walking with them, I realized something very special within myself. I realized that even though I’m not Wonder Woman or even Super Woman to the “outside” world and my tasks are most definitely not comparable to these moms I had overheard, I knew I was something special to my kids, to my family.
I had yet fallen into the comparison trap by comparing my worth as a mother and woman to another’s worth. And what’s so sad is that we as women continually do this disservice to ourselves. So what if I can’t bake enough cookies to feed the local food bank? So what if I don’t posses the skills to help assist my husband in our family’s business? And so what if I’m not a top performer at my company that hands out promotions for how well you perform? But what I do posses are more important skills in my book. The skills to love, nurture, and raise my children to be good people.
I took a step back from the conversation I had witnessed and decided to remove myself from the corruption I was doing to myself as a mom and woman. I know that I am enough for my family. I know that I may be stressed 99% of the time, I may not keep the tidiest home, and I even know that I may skip a few pages at night when it’s story time, but I know I’m enough. My kids know that I’m enough.
And I realized that I don’t know what goes on behind those four walls at their home. I have no idea how their children are being raised. Or how well they keep their house cleaned. Or even how well they can cook a pot roast. I stopped the comparison trap right in its tracks! And what I did was focus on my own life and how I can do the best for me, for us.
I encourage you moms to do the same. If you find yourself in the comparison trap, step away. Step away and look at how well you’re doing for your family, not anyone else’s. Step away and give yourself a pat on the back. It’s hard work being a mom. As we know, there’s not a manual that exists to show us the “right way” to becoming moms. It has to be felt and seen. It has to be discovered by us and us alone. Stop comparing…you’re doing just fine.
As we continued our walk home from school that day, I glanced at my children’s smiling faces. I knew then and there that they were happy and fulfilled-and that was enough for me. Until I heard, “Mom, can we bake cookies tonight?!”
* This article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*