Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Mama Comparison Trap and How I'm Clawing out of It

So, there's this word that should be a dirty word.

It's much longer than four letters, but it's right up there with some of the notorious four letter words.

In today's society of Pinterest perfection and social media isolation, it can be a fatal disease.

It's called comparison.

I'm not as *pretty *smart *thin *good of a cook *wife *Mom

as the person who posts the pictures of their two hour workouts, homemade from scratch dinner, perfectly accessorized living room with their straight A kids sitting quietly doing their homework.

Y'all know what I'm talking about, right?

And I've been guilty.

I'm an introvert who can pour out my life in beautiful prose. I post on social media frequently because if you like my posts, then that means you like me, right?

What I'm writing is not fake, I assure you. It's genuinely from the heart. And if I had the courage, I'd look you right in the eye and say just that...
but often I don't.

So I sometimes hurriedly push my buggy down the aisle at Walmart so I won't have to meet you in the eye. (Just being honest... and I bet sometimes you do the same).

Anyway, sometimes as I scroll down those social media feeds, I find myself getting into that "if only" trap. If I'm not careful, I can find myself a little envious, and then possibly resenting some of the great things that may be happening in other people's lives.

And if social media really is about friendships, and these people on my newsfeed are my "friends"... well, shouldn't I be happy for the good things in their lives???

That dirty word, comparison, can make us feel less than, though...

And human nature is that when we feel less than, we sometimes try to make ourselves feel better by making others feel less than.

It's this never ending cycle of one-up-manship, which is crazy, because stepping on someone else on the way to the top doesn't really get you to the top...

because sooner or later that house of cards will come crashing down.

Living in a small town is hard, sometimes.

Tonight was Academic Boosters for Breathitt County, a program that our county has every year to honor those students in grades 6-12 who have outstanding GPAs.

My internal comparison monitor started going off when I saw all those pictures of those girls and guys dressed up to get their certificate, because this year, Caleb has been a little lazy...

and doesn't that mean that I've been a lazy Mom?

And maybe I have been... because I've totally adopted the choose your own battle phrase.

(So, no, it wasn't a mistake. His name was not accidentally left off the program. He has a 3.2 GPA, which is average. And right now, I'm ok with that. Not ecstatic... but the kid still has his phone.)

While I want Caleb to excel in academics, and it disappoints me because I know he is more than capable of making straight As if he applied himself...

we've also been having a lot of conversations about bettering ourselves outside of the classroom.

I've been more concerned with his character than his academics.

That may sound like a cop out, and tonight, I sure didn't feel like the best Mom, because if I was "better" I maybe would have pushed a little harder...

except there are growing pains that kids have to go through.  My philosophy is that he has to learn to push himself. He's a smart kid, and eventually he will figure out what is important.

And what's important to me right now is that he is compassionate. That he reaches out to others. That he treats everyone the same. That he is respectful.

So, tonight I'm proud of all of his classmates who have that 4.0. I know there are a lot of kids who walked across that stage who have put in long hours doing homework and busting their butts because it doesn't come easy to them. Two or three years ago, I would have been a little jealous, just being honest.

But I've come to a better knowledge of myself (in this minute... that can all change) and I find myself being truly happy for others. Seeing someone else fail won't make me succeed... and seeing other kids fail won't make Caleb work harder on his homework.

And part of being a Mama is learning to nudge enough to get them going in the right direction, not shocking them with a shock collar into submission.

It's taken me a long time to realize this... but not everyone has the same path in life. Comparing yourself to another person is like comparing a cat and a dog. And here's the thing.

My kid and your kid are different. Not all of them have the same capabilities. It's time that we learn to support each other.

Some days, that Mama in Walmart is doing the best that she can.

Mamas, don't beat yourself up. One bad day, or a series of bad days, does not make you a bad mama.

We don't all have to be mirror images of each other.

Choose your battles... and make sure they are worth fighting for.

Keep loving... long and hard. Love your kid for their own abilities. Don't get caught up in what every other kid is doing. That may not be the path for your kid. Don't let anyone tell you that you or your baby are less than because they don't talk a certain way or dress a certain way of make great grades or play some kind of sport.

You as a Mama and your baby are unique... and God's got a plan just for you that will look completely different from me and from Caleb, and that's beautiful... because we can all learn from each other.

He is faithful who began a good work...

and these teenage years aren't going to last forever, so I'm going to enjoy the good and hold my breath during the bad...

So when I get that "less than" feeling, I'm going to think of some of the things I've done right.

I'm going to think of how you are different from me, and think of how I genuinely like you and your child and want the best for you, and say a little prayer that the best will happen.

I'm going to rejoice with you, just as the Bible says... celebrating those accomplishments, because every Mama needs to know her baby is doing something right.

And I'll mourn with you in their weaknesses... when they struggle. When they fall. When they make mistakes. I promise I won't judge. I won't be thankful that it wasn't my own kid... rather, I'll try to put myself in your shoes.

I'll be in your corner. It may just be virtually, over the screen, but as this is my "year to live" I'm trying to come out of my comfort zone and be more "real-life". It's not easy for this introvert, but as a fellow Mama I'll do my best to look you in the eye and say, "You're doing great."

Always remembering that no matter what, I'm blessed to be Caleb's mama.

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