real talk real moms | on comparison in motherhood

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I imagine much of the comparison that happens between mothers begins simply and honestly, a way to observe and emulate other women we admire for one reason or another. We actually need one another in this way. We need other mothers in our lives to share experience or to bounce ideas and inspire us when we find ourselves overwhelmed or in a rut. We need to know that other women have endured sleepless nights or cleared poop from the floor or learned how to love their postpartum bodies. We need to hear various ways other mothers have taught their children kindness and how to share, or how they learn to clean up after themselves or where they go to school. These are the easy comparisons, the ones that remind us we’re not alone in the difficult choices and sometimes crappy parts of motherhood. Literally.

Perhaps comparison between us takes a downturn when in our estimation of others, we begin criticizing ourselves, nitpicking our own choices, style, and circumstances to fit in with another’s. We visit a friend’s house or scroll through our social feeds and feel it: we are not measuring up. We’re not organized enough, thoughtful enough, traveling enough, creating enough, thin enough, experienced enough, successful enough, strong enough. Our children aren’t dressed well enough or experiencing enough or playing enough or reading enough. Our homes are not clean enough or decorated enough or organized enough or environmentally-friendly enough. The list goes on and these thoughts, muddling our perspectives and vision, can be a slippery slope into doubt, shame, and even depression.

As mothers we need honest community, even if at times it is only one other person. We need someone with whom we can openly share our not enoughs, and one whom we trust will speak truth and courage to our darkest thoughts. Although I always write honestly here and do sometimes share bits of these personal hardships, these spaces are not the primary places I share the underbelly of our life. That said, know there is an underbelly. I wrestle with doubt and anxious thoughts. I regularly question my ability to actually do all I want to do. I sometimes find myself wishing for those illusive descriptors more and better. You are not alone. I encourage you, the next time you’re feeling ill-fitted for the task at hand or less than pleased with how your body fits in clothes, pause and begin listing gratitudes aloud, even if it begins with the simplest gift of being able to take a breath.

For those of you who need ideas or courage in finding community in motherhood, I wrote about that here.  For those of you who tend to guard your underbelly and struggle with perfectionism in motherhood, I wrote about that here.


This post is a part of the collaborative “Real Talks” series. To read more thoughts on comparison in motherhood:

Alexandra from Ave Styles | Rebecca from A Daily Something | Erin from Design for Mankind | Amy from Parker Etc. | Catherine from The Life Styled | Kat + Em from The Refined Woman | Hillary from Our Style Stories

 

11 replies
  1. georgia
    georgia says:

    thank you for this encouragement. i’ve been reading the book uninvited, and it has helped me a lot with this very subject, as i tend to often compare and feel like everyone out there in social media has a better version of everything i have. it’s very silly, i know. but i get caught up in that, when really, they have the exact same struggles… or as you eloquently put it, underbelly. i’ve always been drawn to your blog because you can celebrate beautiful things in life, but never once come across with an air of snobbish perfectionist “i’m better than everything/everyone else”. i see in your posts a desire to celebrate and cultivate beauty, but never to shame others into feeling less than. i’m not saying that is the intent of other bloggers, but you can definitely tell when a blogger goes out of their way to make sure that is not a perception others have… and just wants honest, community celebration of life’s beautiful gifts.

    Reply
  2. Allison
    Allison says:

    Yes and yes! I write about motherhood and competition some months ago on my blog as I was certainly struggling with the comparison issue too. I found for me one of the best ways to combat it is to pray and give thanks for that other mom, to fight against what the enemy wants to do when we compare ourselves. I’m all for honest community for sure.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] On Comparison in Motherhood (Cloistered Away) | Parenting […]

  2. […] of A Daily Something // Alex of AVE Styles // Catherine of The Lifestyled // Bethany of Cloistered Away //  Erin of Design for Mankind // Emily of The Refined […]

  3. […] Life Styled / Parker Etc. / AVE Styles / A Daily Something / Cloistered Away / Design For […]

  4. […] tackling the topic of comparison (check out the other mamas writing today: Alex, Amy, Bethany, Catherine, Em, Erin, and Hilary). It’s been a few months since I’ve participated in […]

  5. […] comparison today, if you’d like to take a peek at a few other perspectives: Alexandra, Rebecca, Bethany, Amy, Catherine, Em, and […]

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