Whether you’re a seasoned mom of four, or a new mom of one, chances are you have compared yourself to the moms around you. In fact, you probably did it today! In this world of social media, we see a constant barrage of perfectly posed photos of our friends, portraying their lives in the best light possible. But here’s the thing: nobody’s life looks as good as their Instagram feed! We share a perfectly posed picture of the kids decorating cookies, with everyone smiling in a perfectly clean kitchen. The reality is that somewhere behind that camera, a toddler dropped a full glass of milk, a baby spit up on a new outfit, and mom lost her cool and yelled. And that perfectly clean kitchen exists only to the extent of the photo’s edge – beyond the picture frame are all of the things that got shoved out of the shot.
It’s really easy to think that we are the only mom out there who does all of that, but that is just a lie our brains tell us to make us feel inadequate. I remember when I became a mom. I saw all the moms who had started before me, and I felt SO inadequate. I thought surely I had less to contribute in any social situation than these seasoned moms did! I thought I couldn’t measure up to their experience or grace. They had the perfect Instagram and the perfect Facebook, and I always felt “less-than.” I would picture my perfect easy life and wait for the day it would come, maybe once I had more money for a cute house and trendy clothes, or more kids and more experience.
Having three kids has been a great joy but also a great trial for me. I feel like I haven’t slept in years, my body is not even close to what it used to be, and just going to the grocery store leaves me exhausted. Shockingly, becoming a mom of a few kids did not suddenly make me a glorious goddess of motherhood. I don’t know how I thought that parenting would get easier, because it certainly hasn’t, but I also wouldn’t say it’s harder. My first kid took everything out of me. I don’t know about you, but I felt like I was drowning! Drowning in the bodily fluids of an infant. Suddenly my once self-focused and relatively predictable life was tossed up on its end by a tiny screaming tyrant who couldn’t tell me what she wanted. I was more tired than I’ve ever been in my life, both emotionally and physically. It was NOT easy! There is a distinct difference between learning to transition into motherhood and the struggles of balancing multiple kids, but they are equally difficult to manage!
Alternatively, you may see the family with the big fancy house, and think that their life must be infinitely better than yours, with all that space and comfort. This highlights one of the biggest issues of modern motherhood: mistaking trendy, clean, quiet home life for a positive childhood. Kids aren’t clean, or quiet, and they don’t care about trends. You could live in a cardboard box and your kids wouldn’t care, so long as you made them feel valued. So get down on the floor and play with your kids. Let them make messes. Let them pick dinner occasionally. Because those are the things they’ll remember you for, not what you wore or how clean your kitchen was.
In short, if you only take away one thing from this article, let it be this:
That perfect mom level that we all want to reach, with the perfect house and perfect kids: it’s a trap. It’s a beautifully filtered, photoshopped, hashtagged trap. Don’t fall for it. I don’t have it figured out. Susan-mom-of-five around the corner doesn’t have it figured out. That Instagram blogger that you follow doesn’t have it figured out. Literally nobody does.
Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
So let’s lean on and support one another instead of comparing, and enjoy every minute of our lives as they are right now.