Connection rather than ComparisonI love my MOPS group. We meet twice a month and for 2 and 1/2 hours (childcare included) I am always blown away by the amazing moms in the room and how God uses this program Mothers of Preschoolers in such a mighty way. Our slogan is that better moms make a better world.
This past week at MOPS our video was on this topic of "comparisons" between moms. I can relate to this topic so well and so can ALL of us as moms. The job of motherhood is so unique in that it is the hardest job in the world, and yet we wouldn't want a life without our kids. I can't even imagine my life (good days or bad days) without my children.
I think because the job is so difficult and we are so hard on ourselves, we start to compare our lives to the next mommy because we think somehow they are doing better or have it all together or are outdoing us somehow and we feel like failures.
The speaker, Shauna Niequist, a bestselling author (Bread & Wine) who is a believer in Jesus and a mother of two boys brings up the fact that about 5 minutes of looking at Facebook or Pinterest and you can walk away feeling miserable. She even laughed as she said and who actually does all of the things they pin anyway! It is SO true. I can get on Facebook and start to see someone else's vacation pictures, or awesome post about someone else's kids, or see someone pinning about chore charts and start to feel so competitive and very unsettled. I start to feel like why can't we go on more vacations? Why can't mark and Julia be more like that great kid? Why haven't I created a chore chart in 2 years? Why? Why does that happen?
Why is it so easy to start looking at someone else's life (only a glimpse of their life and usually the most positive side...because how often to we post negative things or pictures of our kids when they are fighting or misbehaving?) and wish that our life was just like it?
Shauna said this sometimes happens because we may have trigger spots or vulnerable spots in our own lives or bruised places and when another mom comes up to us and says, "It's a miracle you made it here right?" or "My, you've got your hands full?" or "What did mommy do to your face?" (when they notice a bruise or bump, because you know kids never fall down, right)
I will never forget the time I brought mark to the library after he got his first stitches on his head and a mom came up to me and goes, "What Happened????" and as I explained that he tripped and fell on the coffee table she looked at me like I was the worst mom on the planet....it took me months to return to the library. I felt so judged. I felt so humiliated. Now, of course maybe that mom was just curious. But to me, it felt like I was a failure as a mom.
Shauna goes on to say that we as moms really need to check our language with other moms. We need to practice connecting with other moms instead of comparing with them or saying things that might make them feel less than. So for example, say you see a boy come to your Sunday School class with a black eye, don't say, "What did your parents do to you?" instead what is more helpful, talk to the mom and say, "Kids fall, I know mine do, it's no big deal, it's a part of life." Instead of making the parent feel judged connect with them, tell them a time when your kid fell and share how you felt. Don't try to make yourself look good, because trust me, no parent enjoys seeing their kid fall, get stitches or have bruises.
Practice the Art of Gratitude
Also, instead of comparing yourself to the local Super Mom out there with 8 kids, who still cleans her floor on her hands and knees, whips up a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies, and homeschools, practice the art of gratitude. Think of what you are thankful for instead of comparing and wishing for the things you don't have or don't do. I am SO guilty of this. Shauna suggests at the dinner table, go around and have everyone say something they are thankful for, whether it be Grandma Donna bringing us to the park, or Aunt Laurie baking with us, or the new sneakers mom got for Awana, whatever it is practice be thankful and content for what you do have!
I also love how Shauna mentioned that if you walk away from Facebook or Pinterest feeling lousy everytime...ask God, what may be off balance in your life (and honestly take a break off these online things...I've done this and it really helps you focus on what REALLY matters!).
Remember that God made you just the way He made you for a specific purpose. Maybe you don't crochet or knit or sew (that would be me) BUT maybe you are really good at making your girlfriends laugh, or singing, or putting together a great outfit. Whatever the gifts God has given you be happy with them and USE them! God made you. He shaped you. He gave you this life, this story, and His love for you is great. Don't try to be anyone but you!
I have found that as I connect with those Super Moms, I realize they are human just like me, they have hopes and dreams, and struggles, they aren't perfect and their "carefully edited sparkly" world is only a part of who they may be...