Self compassion over comparison
For the last five days, I've read my colleague's moving words, and wondered: what am I going to say? How am I going to compete with these compelling heartwarming anecdotes and soul-searching stories?
And then it hit me... I was doing what I ALWAYS do. I was comparing myself to others.
It's easy to feel like you don't measure up in the world of competitive mommyhood--especially in this age of social media and over sharing, Beautifully staged Instagram posts, seemingly perfect outings, dream vacations, and professionally filtered faces--how is one to compete with all that?
Here at Momtrends, we believe in the perfectly imperfect. We love pretty images and curated social feeds, but we also acknowledge that reality isn't always picture perfect. We try to share the pretty and the gritty; fantasy and fact; the aspirational and the attainable; and we hope our readers get the message that life is so much more than a single moment captured on camera. Those fleeting seconds are bookended by meltdowns and tantrums and spills and fails and all kinds of ugliness.
My makeup might not always be done like some of the other moms at school pickup. My house might not always be as tidy as a friend's. And my temper might not be as even as that of our Kindergarten teacher. But, while the grass is always greener, I don't actually want my neighbor's lawn. I don't want to trade places. I don't need to walk in anyone else's shoes--mine suit me just fine.
When I start to feel that tug of self doubt, insecurity or, yes, even jealousy, I turn that comparison into self compassion. I show myself kindness and forgiveness. Even just reminding myself about a career accolade, a parenting win, or an amazing moment with my kids, quells any feelings of insufficiency. You do you. I'll do me.
We recently featured some witty #momlife letterboard signs on Momtrends, and one, in particular stood out.
"Remember when you so badly wanted what you have now."
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Yes, this speaks to me--heart and soul. As a mom and a wife and employee and volunteer and daughter, I wear many hats, and the lines are often blurred. I'm pushed and pulled in so many directions that I often forget to focus on the here and now; to show gratitude and grace. I get impatient and frazzled and frayed, and rush through the day just to get to bed time. I yell, I tap my foot, I roll my eyes, and I lose my cool.
It's not easy juggling it all, and it's normal to get overwhelmed. So when I start to feel an urge to scream and cry, I take a deep breath and remember that letterboard sign.
It doesn't always stop me from shouting, but it does help to put thing into prospective. Being a mom is all I ever wanted. And those most frustrating parenting moments go with the territory of this coveted role of a lifetime.
Everything Is a Stage
Believe me when I say that these few philosophies don't even begin to capture my parenting style, which is ever evolving--but my last mom mantra of choice is: remember that everything is a stage, so pick your battles.
Both my kids went through an incredibly infuriating toddler stage where they'd fight to put on socks, wear shoes, get strapped into their car seat and so on... One time, my son and I sat in a parking lot for two hours because he flat-out refused to go in his car seat. And let me just tell you--a two year old with an iron will has shockingly tremendous physical strength.
I thought I was never going to be able to take him out of the house in public again. But after a few frustrating weeks, he got over this phase. He now wears shoes and socks and sits politely in his car seat with minimal complaint.
Then, of course, there was that stretch of babyhood when my kids refused to sleep. That one is always hard, and I know I'm not the only one out there who has and sometimes still does struggle with sleep deprivation. But the truth is: that phase will (eventually) pass too.
Whenever I'd find myself pacing the floors with an overtired infant or arguing about brushing teeth with a petulant toddler, I'd remind myself that it's all a stage--and all an attempt to test boundaries. Now, when my threenage daughter tells me she's never going on the potty, I don't fret it, I don't rush her, and I pick my battles.
In the moment, these experiences are trying, but they don't last long. Soak it up--the good, the ugly, and everything in between.
Happy Mother's Day.