I remember the very first time it happened.
I was handing the “snack that smiles back” to my toddler at play group and one mom said to another, “Your two-year-old already knows all his letters? Mine can’t even stack two blocks.”
I almost choked on the orange fish I had just popped into my mouth.
(Was my toddler doing better or worse than theirs?)
(Should I be trying harder?)
(What if I’m not a good mom?)
(What if I’m not as good as they are?)
(What if my child is not as good as theirs?)
You know what happened when I got home?
I got out my ABC picture cards and began the hard work of “force-feeding” my daughter her letters.
I was determined to make her as good, if not better, than others.
Not okay (I now look back on my young mom self with as much tenderness as I can muster).
As you can imagine, it kept happening and happening.
(What classmate beat my child on field day in the hula hoop game?)
(What mom made that unbelievable costume for Halloween?)
(Whose kid got the most awards at 8th grade graduation?)
(Who made Varsity?)
(What college did so-and-so get into?)
(Where did she getting her daughter's wedding dress?)
It never ends.
COMPARISON IS AWFUL.
It keeps us trapped inside an endless maze with no exit.
Trapped in defining our self-worth by the opinions and actions of other people.
Trapped in our constant and debilitating need for approval.
Trapped in not feeling good enough and then striving to get to this unreachable place.
BUT, my mama friend, we have great hope!
We can and must extricate ourselves out of that trap and move to spaces within ourselves of much-needed freedom.
The answer is not quick. It's not simple. But it's worth it.
Be on the lookout. Keep our gorgeous mom hearts wide open. That twinge will show up. If we are heading toward "I need to be better than her" or "Why am I not as good as _______?", it's probably a good sign that we're headed there or in the trap already.
Practice the pause when it rears its head. I love the pause. It gives me time to notice what's happening, refrain from assigning blame or shame and then do this...
Call it out. Tell someone. Write it down. Sit and our car and have a conversation with God. SAY WHAT IT IS.
Celebrate our strengths. Remind ourselves that there are some things we do well and we can't do everything well. It's just part of being human.
Embrace our imperfections. See last bullet point.
Lean into the grace of being enough. If there is ever something we need to rethink, it's this. We are enough. We are not too much and we are not too little. We are exactly the right mom for our kids (notice I didn't say perfect - winky face).
Get professional help when we need to. This is always a given. If we find ourselves not able to climb out of this rut and are debilitated by shame, it's time to seek a counselor who can walk with us in the nitty-gritty of our journey to freedom.
I leave you with some final words, my friends.
We (and those dang kids of ours) are completely unique.
And we are ALL invited to be and bring our true and beautiful selves to the table of life.
It’s precisely our individuality that makes for a feast that’s full of goodness, nourishment and life.
No more snacking for us.
No more smiling orange fish.
There's a banquet waiting for us.
There, we can ALL eat and be full.
And I am so glad I'm sitting at the table of mom life with you.
From my heart to yours,
P.S. How cute is our youngest is the picture? She had made me dinner and even put it on my plate in the shape of a heart!!!