Comparing ourselves to other moms never ends well

Each school day, I send a note along in my children’s lunchboxes. Now that my daughter is older, we have started having theme days. Our notes have evolved into Motivation Monday (an encouraging or inspiring quote), Truth Tuesday (a Bible verse), Wacky Wednesday (a joke), Think or Thank Thursday (an interesting piece of information or something I am thankful for about her) and Fun Friday (something wacky and fun like stickers with speech bubbles).

Don't get caught in the mom comparison trap

I enjoy doing the lunchbox notes. I have even written a serial story a couple of times for my daughter with a new installment each day for a week. But, it makes sense this is my thing: I’m a writer. I always have been, and I love it. It’s one way I can pop into my kids’ lives in the middle of their school day and I enjoy doing so.

However, I also know that writing daily lunchbox notes — let alone theme notes — is not everyone’s thing. When a friend recently shared that his wife felt inferior for the stuff she saw on Pinterest (like writing lunchbox notes) but didn’t do, I understood that perspective. But I also thought about all the things his wife is good at that I’m not.

For example, she takes beautiful photos of their children in everyday life. Some of the photos she shares on social media are just precious. She has a knack and skill for photography that I do not.

Looking at other moms

I would bet that since the very first moms ever met one another, the mom comparison trap formed. We all have strengths and weaknesses and we may be OK with them in theory or even in other areas of life, but we can be left feeling like we fall short when we don’t measure up to moms we see around us or online.

I don’t even have to look far to find moms good at things I’m not. My own mother, for example, is a great housekeeper. I am mediocre — and that’s an improvement from a few years ago! She also can sew to repair my kids’ clothes when they get small tears. I can thread a needle, but am at a loss at what to do from there. I can’t even sew on a button.

I have another friend who is an art teacher and incredibly talented. For each of her children’s birthday parties, she draws a custom coloring page based on the theme. All the guests then color the picture and she hangs them up on display. I can barely draw a stick figure. The best I can do is stay in the lines coloring printed coloring pages and even then I don’t get fancy and do any shading or anything.

The moms of some of my kids’ classmates come up with and execute some very cool and elaborate parties and party ideas for class parties and birthday parties. I search Pinterest for the easiest thing I can find, and even that is stretching it for me.

I have another friend who can bake. She works as a professional baker. While I enjoy baking and do a very, very small amount of decorating, my skills are nowhere near her creations. Not even close!

Motherhood isn't about being perfect and excelling at homemaking, crafts, baking and everything else. Motherhood is about loving our kids. -- Stacey A. Shannon

Looking at yourself

I could go on and on and on. The thing is, I’m not those other women. I don’t have the same skillsets and natural talents that some of them do. Yes, I could take photography, sewing, drawing and decorating classes, but those aren’t things I enjoy enough to do so. I don’t want to spend the time, energy or resources on them.

And that’s OK. I am who I am. Who I am is the woman that God made. Who I am is the woman God gave my children to. The same is true for you. None of us are identical. My strengths and passions are different from yours. It is what makes us unique people. While we tell our kids to embrace their individuality and we try to do so in ourselves, we often fail at that when it comes to embracing our individuality as moms. We get caught in the mom comparison trap.

I’d bet right now you can tell me things you see other moms doing that you feel guilty you don’t do. I can make a LONG list of these things. I remember feeling it when my sister-in-law and I took our kids to a corn maze back when my oldest was only 11 months old. My sister-in-law stopped at a corn stalk and let her daughter (who was 3) and her triplet 1-year-olds feel the corn stalk. Of course, she let my daughter feel it as well.

It never once crossed my mind to let my daughter feel the texture of the corn stalk. Does that make me a bad mom? Nope. Does it make my sister-in-law a better mom? Also, nope. We are just different.

Coming up short in the mom comparison trap

Whenever we compare ourselves to other moms, we often come up short. We are judging their mom abilities at their best against our mom abilities at our worst. Instead we need to focus on how we love our kids and meet their needs. We don’t want to be so caught in the mom comparison trap that we miss out on what matters most!

We all do that differently. Written words are part of my life in so many ways that I’ve shared that with my children. We first started reading a bedtime story to our oldest when she was 3 months old. Now she is 10 and her brother is about to turn 7, and we still read together every night before bed.

I have moved that into lunchbox notes as well. My son doesn’t enjoy them so much, yet, but as he becomes a better and better read, that may change. If it doesn’t, that’s OK. I’ll find another way to show him love.

Motherhood isn’t about what we do and what we’re good at. It’s not about being perfect and excelling at homemaking, crafts, baking and everything else. Motherhood is about loving our kids. It’s about teaching them what they need to know to survive in the world. It’s about showing them what God’s love looks like in practice. It’s about guarding their hearts and their minds.

None of that has anything to do with your talents and hobbies or those of the moms around you. You bring your own unique way to love and teach your children to the table and it’s the perfect way for your children. God didn’t give you those babies on accident.

Whenever we compare ourselves to other moms, we often come up short. We are judging their mom abilities at their best against our mom abilities at our worst. Instead, we need to focus on how we love our kids and meet their needs. -- Stacey A. Shannon

Snaring others in the mom comparison trap

Along with that, we must also be careful of the other side of the mom comparison trap. I’d like to say I’ve never done it, but I have. There is a side of comparison that is basically judging. Maybe it was a mom doing something differently than you at the park. Maybe it was a mom planning an elaborate birthday party for her kid. Whatever it is, we can sometimes be guilty of judging other moms for not doing things the way we do them.

We’ve got to stop that, too. Remember my art teacher friend? She and I had a discussion a couple of years ago about the difference in our parenting. I follow a pretty tight schedule for my kids. It works for us. She is more spontaneous and, at the time, didn’t have kiddos in school. Oftentimes their bedtimes were later than my kiddos got to stay up. She thanked me once for not judging her or giving her a hard time. My reply was that it worked for her family.

We are all different. And that’s OK. We all also make mistakes. Sometimes we just need to have someone come along us and say they have messed up, too, but it’s not the end of the world — even if the mistake they made isn’t one you’d struggle with.

Remembering Whose opinion really matters

We need to work to be the women and moms that God created us to be, and that’s it. Our measuring stick doesn’t come from other moms or the world. It doesn’t even come from ourselves. It comes from our Heavenly Father, and I promise you that He isn’t finding you lacking when your kids stay up an extra hour, their birthday party isn’t Pinterest-worthy and you haven’t managed to take a single photo this week that isn’t blurry.

God’s grace covers all your mess-ups. And His strength holds you up when you are wobbling. He created you, mama, just as you are. And THAT is definitely good enough, so stop comparing yourself to someone you weren’t made to be.

About the Author: Stacey A. Shannon

Stacey A. Shannon is a freelance journalist and blogger who has been published internationally. She's also a Christian, a wife and a mom of two school-aged children. She started Families with Grace in 2019 to encourage Christian moms as they create homes filled with grace, love and faith.

Be sure to get the FREE family devotion book, "Finding Grace at Home: 7 Days of 5 Minute Devotions for Families." It's a great way to help your family draw closer to each other and to God.

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