She just stood there with all the wisdom on the subject of comparison. She’s a single , young, gorgeous gymnastics coach with the phrase that has forever changed the way I view myself as a Mother.
” At our gym, the coaches tell each child to pick a goal. It’s rare that any of the children have the same goal to reach, because everyone has a different goal in mind. Everyone’s skill level is different. That’s what I love about our gym. Everyone is able to accomplish a goal THEY made. Not someone else.
I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped for a total of 39 seconds before I could speak. I had just spent the day cleaning the girls room for a Bridal shower that was the next week, held at our home. I beat myself up for letting their closet get messy, unorganized and downright chaotic.
” WOW! Um, I needed to hear that for reasons you don’t know. Thank you for sharing that with me.”
Little did she know that that one paragraph would repeat in my mind for the following week. It was a God thing that I desperately needed to hear.
If only I had listened.
I basically thought I had all my crap together, and then I had a fourth child. I naturally like things to be in order, but not to the point of some Mothers. I don’t mind if I use the same towel for a week, or stuff toys in a closet so that they are out of my sight for a bit. What is not seen on a daily basis doesn’t bother me that much. I choose my battles with the kids rooms and how often I fold laundry.
I basically set one goal when I wake up in the morning:
Keep kids alive. Drink coffee. Feed them. Bathe them. Repeat.
I will admit that my anxiety gets sky high WHEN things are out of order. I don’t like people coming to my house when it’s a mess. It makes me feel inadequate as a housekeeper. I think these are all normal feelings a Mother has.
Today was the first day of school for our two oldest kids. Instead of enjoying my day off, I began to allow comparisons to come into my mind. Comparisons that came from small comments meant to be light hearted.
The fact is that when you are insecure in an area, any comment on that area can flare up offense and hurt. It can surface your hurts and shortcomings into a festering wound waiting to be mended. You immediately put up a wall as a defense mechanism and roll with the rest of your day. Pretending that comparison doesn’t have an affect on you.
:: Maybe I should be like Stacey, her tupperware is always in the right spot. Each container has a match and she never has anything out of place. HOW DOES SHE EVEN DO THAT WITH FIVE KIDS? I need to work harder. Stay up later folding laundry. Be a better Mom. Be more organized. ::
All day I spent my time organizing cabinets, throwing away unmatched tupperware, organizing the snack drawers so that they were just right. To the point where I found myself in tears that it just wasn’t perfect enough. I could never be perfect enough. My house would never be perfect enough. Never clean enough.
I had given myself this ultimatum:
If you are are good Mom, your pantry will always be organized. If you are a good Mom, your tupperware will be in perfect order so that when someone asks for it, it’s there. You will not have a messy house, ever.
Four trash bags filled with old tupperware and things forgotten and stuffed away sat in my garage as I broke down in tears. I would never be enough. My house will never be clean enough. I cannot work hard enough to please others, or myself. It’s impossible.
It was then the phrase came back into my mind, one that was so significant, yet I had tucked it away.
“Everyone is able to accomplish a goal THEY made. Not someone else.”
I kicked a trash bag of junk, sat down and sobbed. I had done this to myself. I had allowed myself to be so consumed with others opinions and goals for their own houses that I became fixated on having the perfect house for my kids to come home to.
The cleanliness made me feel accomplished, and happy, yet angry at myself for working myself to the ground to achieve it.
This isn’t who I am . I am a laid back person. I don’t care what others think of me. I love my children. I love my husband. I love the chaos and loudness of our home. The more children we have the more busy life gets, and the less time I spend on baseboards and organization. My identity isn’t in the cleanliness of my home, but in the way I love so deeply and openly. The way our home is always open to anyone that’s lonely or in need of some good laughter and fun.
I opened the van door and welcomed our oldest two in after school. Their faces lit up as they told me about how much the loved their teachers and classrooms. About how it was the best first day they had ever had.
I was still wiping tears from my eyes behind my glasses from all these self expectations I had for the day. I didn’t finish organizing the snack drawers. I still needed to dust the living room mantel .
My ears were filled with the joy of their days and all the sweet conversations I missed while I was busting it cleaning, ( for them I thought ). For them I would make their home perfect and clean. A place where they would feel loved and at home because of my hard work.
We all walked in, bookbags thrown on the floor as papers began to fall out. Papers for me to fill out, more work for me to complete. Each kid went to the pantry and choose a snack before heading outside to play. Still grinning from ear to ear from their successful days.
” Hey Mom, did you like clean today? It looks clean.”
” Yeah, a little bit. “
Bites my lip, as if I was waiting for a compliment.
” Cool, can I play outside?”
It was then that I knew what I had known deep down all along. My kids could care less if the pantry was clean. If they had a gourmet meal for dinner.
All my expectations and goals I had placed on myself to please other people. I had exhausted myself for the sake of looks and appearances.
I love to have a clean house. It makes me feel good. But I had allowed myself to get to the point of COMPARING myself to other Mothers. Mothers that had different personalities and life situations than I do.
Bottom line here, No one is like you. No one has the same goals as you do. Each Mother’s day is so different that we cannot even begin to compare ourselves to another Mother. Everyone walks through battles we know nothing about.
Comparison is toxic. We can literally poison our self worth by doing it.
You are YOU. You have a different goal for the day than your neighborly Mother does.
Look at this paragraph as if you are reading it in the context of a day in the life of a Mom:
” At our gym, the coaches tell each child to pick a goal. It’s rare that any of the children have the same goal to reach, because everyone has a different goal in mind. Everyone’s skill level is different. That’s what I love about our gym. Everyone is able to accomplish a goal THEY made. Not someone else.”
Make your OWN goals. Your goals are yours alone. They’re special and vital to your family. Don’t focus on the gymnast next to you. She’s training for the Olympics and you are there to have fun.
Smile at her and focus on your own goal.
My pantry is now organized. My tupperware has a mate. My girl’s closet is now in perfect order. I’ve exhausted myself to the point of break down and tears.
Guess what? My kids didn’t notice the clean pantry, they noticed the bedtime story I read them. They loved the kisses they gave their baby brother before bed and the reassurance they are loved and safe as I kissed them goodnight.
We have to stop the madness of comparison.
Be you Momma.