There are so many times we as moms fall susceptible to comparison culture. One day a few years ago, I realized my endless scrolling through social media was leading me right into this trap; causing me to fail to see my kids for who they really were and instead, focusing on their peers and their so-called accomplishments.
Instead of spending time with my 18-month-old toddler, I was sitting there worried about what he couldn’t do. And that thing he couldn’t do was apparently done by a 15-month-old toddler as showcased by his mom in a Facebook mom’s group I joined. I had never actually met her or her child. But still, they made me feel like a failed parent. In response, I resorted to incorporating a few additional learning systems into our days, which actually caused me to realize my toddler was (and is) perfectly fine. His only “issue” being that his mom – me! – didn’t believe in him. This realization took a huge toll on me.
Ultimately, I knew I needed to make some changes. I had to put some boundaries in place for myself, and work on focusing on my kid – not the kids I knew through social media. All I had to do was to shut off the source of my anxiety. Therefore, within a year I stepped out of the 450 parenting groups I had joined on my quest to become the perfect mother.
As mothers and women, we all struggle from time to time as we wonder…
“How is their family so perfect?”
“How can she do [fill in the blank] so effortlessly?”
“How does she find time for herself?”
“How are their kids so well behaved?”
“Ah! Her hair looks so perfect! How?!”
So what? Your hair is messy, your kids are loud, you never find time to do your nails or have a hobby. This doesn’t show the quality of your life. Have you ever thought about how she is looking at you? Maybe she is wondering how happy your kids are, or how fulfilled you seem to be with all those perceived imperfections?
Now with this said, I do not mean to imply people are only happy doing nothing or unhappy doing everything. Instead, I mean moms everywhere are not satisfied with every single area of their lives at all times. It is a safe bet that every single person struggles with feeling like they are missing out, or less-than in some area of their lives. This entire phenomenon can lead us straight towards comparison culture if we let it – from how often we do our nails, to our parenting techniques.
As my son Jivin turned two, everything came into a new perspective for me. I felt like I was getting out of those negative, comparison thoughts that I always used to get stuck in. With effort, I distanced myself from things that brought negativity into my life and worked hard to gain confidence in myself, as well as my kid and his incredible abilities.
From age two to three, the bond that I developed with Jivin was something different. Those first two years of unnecessary distress, comparison and struggle seemed to vanish as we stepped into a new family culture of positivity.
Today, after two kids, I still sometimes struggle with a vicious circle of comparison – it’s prevalent in our society. Even if you switch off social media, you can never escape real life. You meet many moms on play dates, parent-child classes, or even in your workplace. And I see comparison crop up everywhere.
It all starts with…
“How old is your kid?”
“Do you breastfeed him?”
“Is he crawling yet?”
“Have you tried….”
“Are you OK with him watching TV for that long?”
And even if the questions come from place of kindness and help, they can feel like comparison. Parenting can feel like a race to see who wins, if we let it. At the end of the day, we need to take a minute to embrace all the imperfections that come with motherhood, and remember we are all doing the best we can. We are enough! You are enough!