Happy Friday, friends! Today, for Real Talk Real Moms, we’re tackling the topic of comparison (check out the other mamas writing today: Alex, Amy, Bethany, Catherine, Em, Erin, and Hilary). It’s been a few months since I’ve participated in a Real Talk Real Moms post, and I’m excited to be back at it. We’ve been writing together on a [usually] monthly basis for almost a year, and together we’ve shared so many stories and struggles and laughs. I’ve been SO blessed by reading everyone’s posts and comments and getting to know these women; what a beautiful community! I got to meet Hilary two weeks ago in Dallas, and this weekend I’m meeting Caitlin in San Francisco! So fun to connect IRL with these mamas with whom I’ve shared so much of my heart!
Today’s subject is a tricky one to write about (have I said that about all our topics?)! As women, wives, and moms, there are myriad reasons to compare ourselves with others. Our kids (growth, milestones, academics, looks, clothing – guilty of all of the above), our marriage, our post-baby bodies, our homes, our happiness, our work successes, etc.
A comical, yet completely serious (for me) bout of comparison occurred right after I had my first, Zoe. I haven’t yet shared her birth story (maybe coming soon to a blog near you, 3 years postpartum, ha), but let’s just say that nothing went right. Nothing on my birth plan was achieved. I had an emergency C-section, and I was gross. Yes, I had a perfectly healthy beautiful baby. But of course, comparison hit me. Kate Middleton had her first right around the same time, so of course, logically, I compared myself to her. When she left the hospital, she was radiant. That blue dress, long hair with the perfect blow out. Modest little pumps. Pink lips. Baby in arms. Walking. When I left the hospital, I was wearing those disposable hospital panties with the largest pair of pants my mom could find at my house, because I had to stay at the hospital for a week and I hadn’t packed the right things in my hospital bag. I couldn’t walk. I was jiggly. Everything on my jiggled, including all my insides. Showering had been a nightmare, so I dreaded it. I couldn’t even imagine putting on makeup or doing my hair. Yet I was so jealous of Kate. I compared and compared and compared. Where was her POST-BABY BELLY, I wanted to know?! Joe had to gently remind me that she’s a Duchess, part of the royal family, and has hoards of people to do these things for her. I wasn’t quite satisfied. Funny, yes, but a very real struggle for me, 3 1/2 years ago.
If used in moderation, some comparison can be OK. We want to make sure our children are progressing as they should academically and physically. If friends have great methods of organizing or keeping house, I want to compare my method [or lack thereof], and try to make some changes.
Comparison is dangerous and damaging when you live your life comparing yourself to others. When you constantly feel as if you just don’t measure you, you’re inadequate, unmotivated, and discouraged. (Something I struggle with in one way or another, every single day). Other people are rocking motherhood (some with several MORE children), they’re successful business owners (with lots and lots of followers and they work with incredible brands), their homes are spotless, they appear to be wonderful wives, and they always have time for their friends. In the world of social media, it’s even easier to compare yourself to others’ perfect lives, where most people – especially if it’s your business – put their best foot forward.
Comparison has, at times, been a way of making me feel better than others. What is WRONG with me? When I feel like a failure, I’ll let my mind drift off and think of someone who’s doing it worse than I am. I’ll think “I know so-and-so and her kids behave this way, and my kids would never be allowed to do that.” Or “so-and-so sends her kids to daycare and I’ve chosen to be home with mine.” “Or, so-and-so has been blogging for 3 months longer than I have, and only has such-and-such # of followers, so I’m doing aiiiiight.” And immediately I feel better about my life. That is, until I log onto Pinterest and get bit by the other end of the comparison bug. Oh, the things we do and say to justify our own decisions, actions, lives, etc.
Their lives are more beautiful and better in every way possible, and something I could never achieve. Since we are always going to know people by whom we can compare ourselves, what can we do? Having a community where honesty reigns is awesome. A community – that might just be one person, or it could be a group of 50 moms – who is honest with you and you’re honest with them. It helps to talk about these things, and to admit the way you’re feeling. Sometimes all you need is to vocalize your insecurities, and you might realize how silly they sound. Or, if they see you at your worst and you see them at their worst, can we really compare each others’ worsts?
A community where you’re not afraid (so much of it is fear for me) to promote your friends. Do you know someone who’s really awesome at something (of course you do), why don’t you nip that little comparison bug in the bud and scream it from the rooftops? Genuinely praise your friend for all her successes. Try to love her and support her for what she’s been giving, her skills, her abilities, her perfection. I’m going to try to practice this one!
We can also turn comparison into something beautiful. Pray for the person you’re comparing yourself to. Pray for your own heart, that you’d have a heart of contentedness. Or, set a new goal for yourself. Rather than wallow in self-pity and be discouraged for the rest of your life, identify a goal and then begin to implement change in your life. You may realize that the sort of “success” that you deemed so important (whatever that might have been) isn’t possible for you, or isn’t what you wanted, actually. Or, you might achieve that goal, and be so, so incredibly grateful that you had a friend to “compare” yourself to and be inspired to change something in your own life.
And there you have it. Some of my thoughts on comparison. Believe me, this is something I struggle with every single day. Even with my neighbor’s gardens. Or my friend’s organic chicken eggs that she collects every morning. And then I remind myself I don’t like chickens, touching them, or cleaning the coop. And that’s why I could [probably] never have fresh chicken eggs (unless the kids agree to do the work, haha).
Photos by Paula Bartosiewicz
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