If we focus on all that our life isn’t, we miss all the beauty that our life IS. Four powerful ways to combat comparison in motherhood.
Photos courtesy of Stephanie Michaelis Photography
I was never a mom who arrived showered and with her hair done. I’d compare myself to the women who appeared at 9am preschool drop-off glowing with a full face of makeup. I could barely get us all dressed, fed and in clean-ish clothes—let alone think about putting a stitch of makeup on my face.
I was never a mom who arrived at church with a well-groomed family and a calm heart. I’d watch other women who seemed to float into church, holding hands with their husband, children obediently in tow. It appeared effortless for them. I compared this story in my head with the very real, very chaotic morning I’d just had wrestling children into clothes they didn’t want to wear (while my husband slept in)… gulping down half a bowl of cereal after feeding everyone else… walking into church feeling like a haggard mess before the meeting had even begun.
I was never a mom who could juggle working a full-time job, writing a book, organizing a charity event, effortlessly running a blog or online business—while raising children. In my mind, I was in the throes of dirty diapers, spit up, and little sleep—accomplishing very little that ever stayed done—while other women were significantly contributing to the world.
I constantly repeated these messages of “I am not enough,” and it was so destructive.
Have you felt this before?
Maybe every day?
Maybe every hour of every day?
From what I’ve experienced and observed in my conversations with friends, we all are susceptible to comparison in motherhood, and these are some of the issues that plague us most:
6 Common Ways Mothers Compare Themselves to Each Other
- Physical appearance. Hair, makeup, weight, body composition, etc.
- Our mothering abilities. This one is especially emotional for me.
- Our children and their behaviors. From how well they listen to how much time they spend on screens—and so much more.
- Our marriages. Enough said.
- The state of our homes. Neat, dirty, cluttered, organized?
- Our personal accomplishments. Especially while raising kids.
Over the years, as I’ve gotten to know friends and learned of other people’s struggles and lived through more of my own, experience has taught me that we really don’t know what others’ behind-the-scenes look like. And more importantly, I’ve learned that—
If we continually focus on all that our life isn’t, we’re missing all the beauty that our life is.
The biggest help for me has been learning to reframe.
Instead of—”Man, her house always looks so clean,” I try to think, “Our messes show life and creativity and love—and remind me that this stage won’t last forever.”
Instead of—”Goodness, why can’t I get my act together like other moms and pack my kids healthy lunches?” I try to think, “I’m choosing to have my kids buy school lunch so I can free up some time every morning and reduce my stress.”
It takes consciousness—and practice. But it’s so worth it.
“Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” – unknown
4 Powerful Ways to Combat Comparison in Motherhood
1. Know your purpose.
When you’ve honed in on what your purpose is for your particular season, it’s easier to let those comparisons fall by the wayside. Let comparison be a cue to you to refocus on your unique purpose.
2. Practice relentless gratitude.
Gratitude is the best antidote to comparison. It takes us out of where we think we should be and reminds us of the beauty in where we are.
3. Change your focus.
Instead of letting yourself fall down the rabbit hole, could you step outside of yourself by doing something for someone else?
4. Reduce your time on social media.
Social media deserves its own section—probably its own post!—because it is so often the root of our most damaging comparisons.
Comparison becomes especially dangerous when we judge ourselves harshly against the filtered, edited, curated view of reality we often see on social media.
The well behaved, smiling children that always get along, the beautifully decorated house, the spouse who is constantly doing sweet things to surprise his wife, a friend’s career accomplishments. We may envy the vacation someone just took, but this is just a tiny sliver of their entire life. It’s the truth—but not the whole truth.
The reality is, people are constantly showcasing the best aspects of their life on social media. And we are using the same scale to measure two entirely different realities.
When you find yourself slipping deeper into comparisons that stem from social media, don’t be afraid to step back. Delete the apps from your phone for a while. Unfollow people who may (even unintentionally) be making you feel like you come up short. Take the steps you need to take.
It’s for my own happiness but also my daughters‘ future happiness that I’m so invested in the stumbling block that is the comparison trap.
I want my girls to talk to themselves with love, compassion, and self-respect, and that starts with me.
So the next time you compare yourself to the mom who never forgets a soccer practice or a permission slip while you’re over there struggling just to remember to wipe the kitchen table before the rice krispies dry and become so stuck you have to chisel them off… Remember this:
“Admire others’ beauty without questioning your own.” – unknown
You are enough.
If you liked this post you might also enjoy…
- It’s What I Don’t Do that Makes me the Best Mom I Can Be
- Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom
- Not a Perfect Mom, But an Enough Mom
- How to Stop Letting Perfectionism Ruin Your Motherhood