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Becoming a mom took my crazy perfectionism up a notch.
Maybe ten notches.
I used to compare. Okay, maybe I still do. Who doesn’t? You know, that friend who sews her daughters beautiful, boutique-style dresses with matching hair bows for every special occasion; or the one who feeds her four year old Thai curry hotpot with a side of edamame, and he eats it all; or the one who has five kids (all under 10 years old!) yet she always manages to look as airy and unflustered as the models in my recent Anthropologie catalog; or the one who ran a half-marathon when she was 13 weeks pregnant…and a half-marathon 6 months after giving birth…and those are just the moms with the conspicuous talents! How about the ones who overcome great difficulty every day and do it with an incredible amount of grace? Like the mom who cares for a special needs child; the one who works two jobs to make ends meet; the one who is raising her kids by herself; the one who suffers from a chronic illness yet still finds the strength to be a wonderful mom. How can I possibly measure up to any of them? But….
There are two things I know for sure:
#1 – Comparing oneself to another can leave you feeling inadequate.
#2 – Feeling inadequate can make you mean.
Yes…mean. As in snarky, discontent, judgmental, divisive and depressed….even if you’re only thinking those things….I know, because I’ve been there!
Thankfully I’ve encountered some blessed moments of clarity in my short 3+ years of being a mom, mostly out of pure exhaustion with trying to keep up.
First of all, I’ve learned to accept myself…as a mom. I used to feel guilty for not packing my kids’ schedules with play dates and fun activities on my days off work and weekends. But, I just don’t have the energy for that and really enjoy the days we stay home and bake cookies and play with legos. I’ve accepted that and I think it’s better for me to be true to myself and for my kids to see that too. Every mom has her own unique style and that’s how it should be. Not everyone is cut out to be the ultimate soccer mom, or the super artsy-craftsy mom, or the spend-all-day-painting-toenails mom and that’s okay!
I’m also learning to find inspiration where I used to apply comparison. It’s true, every mom is better than every other mom…in some way. That’s what makes life interesting! We all have our own styles, talents and abilities. While I’ve accepted my homebody personality, I did end up joining a local mom’s group at the urging of a friend and have had a great time making friends and doing some really fun activities with the group….and my life is better for it. And, instead of feeling lame and mediocre when a mom brought homemade cupcakes that look just like Elmo to my son’s school (while my humble cupcakes were decorated with a simple shake of rainbow sprinkles), maybe I should use the opportunity to get ideas for my son’s next birthday, or at least be happy that the kids were able to eat such a cool treat. And that half-marathon-running mom? I surely need some inspiration to get back to exercising after having my second baby! The truth is, a cohesive group of people can do more good than the sum of its parts. What if all of us moms stopped playing the compare game and were able to truly support each others’ strengths and inspire each other to be better people? Better moms? What then?
And…I’m trying to give myself some Breathing Room. No one is perfect. Life is messy. Sometimes I don’t have time to change my kid’s stained shirt before going to the grocery store; sometimes all I can manage for dinner is mac and cheese from a box; sometimes I have days where I probably could have done better but I know I still love my kids with everything I’ve got…and they know it too.