Being a parent can be tough in a Pinterest perfect and Instagram worthy culture but we will never be happy playing the parental comparison game.
Many moms know the feelings of the parenting comparison game. The comparison game even extends to our home life. Maybe we hear about the best husband ever because he came home from work early to cook the family a healthy meal and then we flash to our own reality as we reheat leftovers or better yet pull something convenient and processed from the freezer to feed our kids.
I had this inclination to write this post after I laid back in bed after my son woke up in the middle of the night. I was trying to go back to sleep but the tasks on my to-do list were flooding my mind. Now, I’ll preface this saying it has been one of those particularly tough weeks around here. My husband works long days so he leaves when we’re waking up and gets home sometimes right in time to say goodnight. On those tough days with my boys, the days are very, very long which I think left me a bit more emotional and in a rut this week.
A quick scroll through my Instagram feed would leave me thinking “what the heck am I doing wrong?” All these stunning mamas with a gorgeous crew of kids always dressed to perfection. A quick glimpse will leave you thinking that their homes are perfectly organized and decorated. And let’s not forget the wardrobes of clothes we all want to be wearing.
I think we can unanimously agree that there is no perfect in motherhood. But, I realize these constant images and messages that are prevalent in everyday life that sort of define what we see as normal. We are constantly influenced.
So here is my real life. This week, as I felt the frustrations, exhaustion, self-doubt, pressure all combined with the joys of parenting, I found myself wondering why it’s so easy for others when it felt so hard to me.
I transitioned to a stay at home mama and left my full time teaching position which meant I also said goodbye to a full-time salary and benefits. We knew there would be our own set of sacrifices – less money, long work hours for my husband, and long days as a mommy of two boys.
As much as I would love to have a beautiful wardrobe, I honestly shop a couple times a year, usually out of desperation as we head into a new season. My boys are often my splurge but even that is kept in moderation. My boys are rarely perfectly dressed and I cut their hair myself to save a few dollars. Our family dinner is almost always just the three of us and I’m often times standing to eat as I shuffle to get their milk and meals ready.
But back to the bigger picture, I guess my point in writing this is just as a reminder to moms that we are in this together. Social media is prevalent in our daily interactions. We rely on these platforms to keep in touch with family and friends, gather information and share what is important to us. But, don’t let the platforms get you caught up in the comparison game.
It’s true that social media tends to beautify motherhood. Most of us don’t post photos of the kids eating mac and cheese or cereal for dinner. What you see is the polished, styled and pretty side of things. But on the positive side, social media has helped forge a virtual community that allows moms to network, connect, and relate to one another. It’s a place we can make light of the mom fails together.
Personally, I love all of the connections I’ve made through social media and how it’s allowed me to work from home. I’m grateful for the opportunity it has given me! It has enabled me to carve out a place for myself and work a career that fits around my family. However, it really can be a double-edged sword. As much as it is filled with wonderful advice and inspiration, it can also make me question myself as a mother and wife and then the mom guilt follows.
When I see this quote I’m reminded to be authentic. Be vulnerable. Be kind. Be generous. Don’t get caught up in comparison and competition. Smile. Listen. Love. As my boys are growing, I’m realizing more and more how precious each day is that I spend with them. They won’t remember the toys we buy them or drawers full of clothes, but they will remember the special moments we share together.
Let’s commit to not getting caught up in the “everyone’s doing better than me” mentality. I mean honestly, not everyone is sharing the good, the bad and the reality of their everyday life.