Over the last few days I have been writing about ways Christian moms can cultivate that biblical perspective from Psalm 127 that declares children to be a heritage, a blessing, and a reward. How do I view my children? Sometimes I view them as a wonderful blessing. Other times I view them as difficult burdens. What contributes to that latter feeling? Yesterday, we talked about how misplaced priorities can make us tired, stressed, and less able to view the kiddos as the blessings they are. Today, I want to talke about that all-too-common joy-stealer: comparison.
Mom to Mom Comparisons
We’ve all heard about “man points”. Men earn and lose man points with their acts of masculinity or femininity. The female equivalent is an elaborate ranking system. The categories are exhaustive: beauty, health, style, mothering, wife-ing, personality, home decor, nutrition, cooking, talent, and the list goes on. When a woman enters the room with other women, this ranking system begins. It’s not so much that we are looking to see who is the best (although maybe I’m wrong), it’s more that we want to see where we are in the ranking. Am I normal? Am I doing this ok? What are the others around me doing? The ranking system in motherhood brings it to a whole new level.
If there is anything we want to do well, it’s mothering, right? We are now responsible for the lives of little ones that we love passionately. We want to get ideas from other moms, and we want to see if we are doing ok. The problem is that this can build a burden we can’t possibly carry. Maybe our friend excels in creative activities for her kids. Maybe another girl is really into feeding her children only organic food. Another is training to run the half marathon…while pushing her double jogging stroller! What makes this even more of a challenge is cyber space and social networking. I’m going to be honest with you, if facebook and blogging was around when I had littles, I’m sure I would have had a nervous breakdown. Status updates like: today I woke up at 5am, ran 5 miles, taught my 5 year old latin, made 5 freezer meals for the week, and planned a hot date with my super handsome thoughtful hubby… just not helpful. Seriously, if you are a young mom and you are vulnerable to this feeling of not measuring up as a mama, step away from the facebook. The problem with comparisons via the internet is that they are never fair. You really cannot know what else is going on in the person’s life because they only publish what they want you to know.
What makes mothering more of a burden than a blessing (I know that’s slightly different from the original topic) is when we compare ourselves with others, decide we should be able to do more, and then when we can’t we are overwhelmed, exhausted, irritable (insert your adjective here). My suggestion to you is to step back, talk to your husband, and see if there are areas where you have been influenced by comparisons with other moms instead of using your own God-given strengths and abilities to be your children’s mama. This may not be your time for teaching latin, running the marathon, or making all three meals from products you have grown in your garden. That’s okay. Far more important is that you love your children and view them as the blessing they really are.
I don’t have time today, so tomorrow (Lord willing) I will write about how comparing our children to other children (either siblings or other people’s kids) can rob us of that blessing, heritage, and reward perspective. Hopefully, I can tie it up with a gospel perspective. In the meantime: Do you compare? With real friends, cyber friends, or both? How can we rejoice with others’ strengths instead of feel immediately like we are failing? How does the gospel relate to our tendency as women to compare ourselves to one another?