WT 022: How Can I Stop Comparing Myself to Other Moms?
Today on Wire Talk, Karen is talking about something that every single mom goes through: Comparison. From feeling like every other mom is dressed better and is able to juggle more to that feeling of not being the "cool" mom—Karen and Sunny are covering it all today on Wire Talk.
Question 1: “Karen, it seems like every mom is well-rested and dressed to the nines in the carpool line. But with 3 little kids, taking a shower is a huge achievement most days. How do they do it? More importantly, how do I remind myself that I’m good enough and doing the best I can when I feel insecure around them?”
Karen’s Answer: Wow! I get you! Sometimes, even when I am seriously trying to dress to the 9’s when I get around these people I still feel so dumpy. I wish beyond words that I had a fail safe answer. But, I think you’ve just got to get comfortable in your own skin. I think you need to embrace who you are and where you are. Good for that mom that looks amazing, but you look amazing too in your own way. Sometimes there is beauty in the simple things. Confidence comes from within, and it is super attractive. Own who you are.
I experienced this all the time when I was working at NorthPoint Community Church. It’s a hip and cool place, and I don’t think there is a hip or cool bone in my body. What is in my body is traditional, never hip or cool. I’m a flat wearing, comfortable clothes kind of gal. I’ve tried the heels, I’ve tried the sexier look, (I just looked ridiculous) I’ve tried it all, and at the end of the day, I just go back to Karen. But, Karen works for me, because it’s me. I think with getting older you do get more comfortable in your own skin, because you realize you are what you are.
Start celebrating you and the stage of life you are in right now. I tell moms to put blinders on and don’t look to the left or the right, stay in your lane, and you will do fine.
Question 2: “Our family never has the coolest new toy or piece of technology. How do you find contentment in a world of materialism, competition, and insecurities? What are some practical disciplines you practice in order to stay focus on God and not give into worldly pressures? Thank you!”
Karen’s Answer: Wow! These are such good questions and are hitting home with me. How do you stay on focus? Everyday, start your day thanking God for what He has given you , even if you are not crazy about it. Tell God what your desires are for the future, and ask Him to give you what is best.
We never had the latest or the greatest either. Don’t get me wrong, we had decent cars, but they were not flashy and we drove our cars into the ground! Not only that, but we saved up for things—which takes time. I wish we could have just gone out and bought whatever we wanted (though, every time I did do that I regretted it.)
I worked through this by being thankful for what I did have. Celebrating those that had more, and praying they would invite me to come hang out at their pool. That sounds so simple, but it’s not. It takes work. We live in one of the most affluent areas in the country, probably world. But, I don’t have the kind of money that can keep up, so why do I need to try? It just puts such a burden on Greg and makes me so unhappy in the long run.
I have struggled with this question for years. For me, it was my house for 12 years. But, I look back on the house we were in, and I am SO thankful God left us there for 12 years. Our family grew close in that house that was honestly too small for us, but it was what we could afford. The neighborhood was awesome, not flashy, but good people. The thing is, Greg could have earned more money with FedEx. He could have moved up faster but he chose not because it would involve even more time away from the family. In life there is always a trade off. So, thank God for where you are you may look back and be more grateful than ever.
Question 3: “I feel like I’m doing the best I can with balancing my life and my children and husband’s lives… but I also feel like I’m falling short of every other mom I talk to, who somehow seems to do it all. How do I stop feeling like a failure as a mom?”
Karen’s Answer: I wish I could give you a hug. You are not a failure. Satan is whispering in your ear telling you those things to keep you down. Tell him to shut up!
You know, people want different things out of life. Some people want prestige, some people want material things, some people focus on religious stuff, some people sports/academics/etc. So to help me out with this problem: I would try to figure out what it was that was motivating this other mom or moms. Once I realized, “Oh, she’s into being socially well connected” that helped me release myself from comparing her to me, because I would tell myself, “Karen, you don’t really care anything about that. So of course she’s going to be better at that than you, you don’t put any time or effort into that.” I talk to myself a lot! :)
What did I care about? My main thing was my marriage with Greg and raising my children to be true to what God created them to be. That was it for me. Of course I wanted a big house and a fancy job, but most days Greg and the kids were all I had time for. The funny thing is, now, 30 years later, God is blessing me beyond my wildest dreams, and he was listening all those years. I am working a job that fulfills me more than I could imagine and I love my house. He is opening doors. It’s all in HIS timing not mine.
Question 4: “Karen, I overheard my son telling his friends that I am "so annoying" – and that his friend’s mom is “so much better.” I would have thought that I could brush it off, but in reality it made me feel not good enough. Is that something I talk to him about?”
Karen’s Answer: I’ve heard my kids say the same thing. It’s hard to brush off. Should you talk to him? I don’t think so. That would probably annoy him. :) Maybe just back off a little, not completely of course, just a little. Maybe he is growing up and needs some space, which is hard for us moms to do.
I’m pretty sure I heard one of my children call me the B word when they were in high school. The funny thing is the girl she was talking to had the “cool” mom. The mom that let her do whatever she wanted, the mom that was her “friend”. When both girls graduated high school, that same girl told my daughter she wished her mom had been more like me, and would have told her “no.” She was going into college with some major baggage and my daughter wasn’t. WE as moms, have to be true to what God is calling us to do/parent with our children. If it’s annoying, well then. . .too bad. Sometimes I think the speed limit is annoying.
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Comparison Trap: A 28-Day Devotional for Women by Sandra Stanley