It starts from the first few days we enter this world. How big is he/she? What percentile?
And it continues.
What milestones have they hit? Can they walk yet? Are they babbling/signing/talking?
And it continues.
Where did you get your shirt? What car do you drive? Did you get asked to prom?
And it continues.
What school are you attending? What’s your GPA? Where do you see yourself in five years?
And it continues. With the job. With the house. With the kids. With the extracurriculars. With the every little – turned big – thing. We are being compared and comparing ourselves to the world around us at all ages and stages of life. And as mothers, that comparison is multiplied with each child we have, as we place judgment, guilt, and blame on ourselves for the ways that our children may or may not measure up.
This isn’t to say that some people aren’t competitively motivated and that it’s not okay to enjoy competition. However, there is a line between competition and opposition, and we left that line a long time ago. It’s not even about Keeping Up with the Joneses anymore. It’s about leaving them in our dust.
We are at odds, constantly. And it’s exhausting.
So where do we go from this place of incessant comparison, analyzation, conflict, hate, and self-hate?
Step Away from Social
Social media has become the published roster for the Are You Good Enough? Team. And many of us ask ourselves every day: are we making the cut?
Social media detoxes have become increasingly popular, and for good reason. What was once a means to connect across barriers, has become the greatest barrier to genuine connection. It is a feed of negativity, opinions (often uneducated), comment fights, absurdities, and, if you’re lucky, perhaps a cute dog video.
When I find myself feeling down or anxious; when I’m obsessing over the next curveball that 2020 is throwing us; when I pay more attention to my feed than what is happening within my home, right in front of me – I have to be intentional. I have to shut it down and step away.
Shut it Up & Write it Down
“Your mind will believe what you tell it,” and it’s true. The reality of this comparison culture is that we either feed the beast, or we starve it – and it starts with what we tell ourselves and how we talk about ourselves to ourselves. I recommend starting or ending your day by writing down a highlight or a couple of wins (big or small). As mothers, we tend to forget all the things that we checked off of our mental checklist and can fixate on those couple of things that didn’t work out or get accomplished. We cannot do it all, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t doing so so very many important things every single day.
How many times have you been asked to do or attend something, and you do it for the other person (or all others), when you really don’t want to? Stop. Ask yourself if you’re committing to the idea, or to reality? Because, I don’t know about you, but my reality often includes regret. Honor yourself above all else. Your time is precious and too valuable to be spent doing things that you will spend more time bemoaning than enjoying.
It’s time to first apologize, and then forgive yourself for all of that you’ve put yourself through. For allowing Bethany who fills her kids’ bento box every day to make you feel inadequate. For thinking you must fill your child’s toy bin with the latest and greatest. For thinking you should’ve gotten your body back by now. For believing all the noise and not listening to your heart in the quiet. You have not been a friend to yourself. And it is time.
You will never fully explore the unique gifts that you hold if you’re too busy trying to immolate someone else’s filtered talents. Honor the things that move you, that fill you up, that make you feel alive and happy, and that make you laugh and feel worthy. Because you are, mama.