Already 3 weeks into motherhood and I’m becoming aware of the trap we can all so easily fall into- comparison.
If I’m honest, this isn’t a new concept or experience for me. Many a time I’ve found myself in the ‘comparison club.’ Comparing my image, fashion sense, personality, ability to do my job, being a daughter, sister and friend. All of which I’ve found myself comparing to others, feeling inadequate in comparison to someone who I’d placed on a pedestal and practically made a judgement that they were the best example to follow. I wish I looked like that, I wish I was as confident as them! I’ll never be able to get a job like them- I’m not clever enough!
Particularly while battling an eating disorder, part of what continued to ignite the longevity of my disorder was the constant comparison of people’s body image and models in magazines- aiming for their size and shape. I’ve found that when you constantly compare yourself to others you can become very self focused, it certainly caused me to have an unhealthy attitude of selfishness and negativity. I was consumed by being self focused for years, shackled by the chains of my eating disorder. Comparing myself against others got me nowhere- only into a downward spiral of me, me, me, along with a constant feeling of negativity and insecurity.
It’s only in the past few years I’ve become better at not comparing, but instead, standing on knowing who I am in Christ. Accepting that God made me by design and loves me just the way I am. The gifts He’s given me are to be used and appreciated, not constantly compared to what He’s blessed others with. He’s made me to be me- not anyone else.
Yet as I venture into motherhood, I am very much aware of how easy it could be to fall back into the ‘comparison club.’
Already I find myself looking at other mothers parent their children, even how I was brought up, and question if I’m doing a good enough job, am I doing this Mum thing right?
I’m passionate about taking Ava with us wherever we go- to get her used to travelling, swimming and just loving the outdoors. We are a family and I’d love us to do things together. I passionately believe that just because we’ve had a baby our life doesn’t need to stop- it has changed for sure, but we don’t need to stop doing the things we enjoy.
Yet when we expressed plans to take Ava on holiday at 6 months old, we had many mixed responses, many negative, assuming that we wouldn’t be even consider taking her on holiday at that age.
On the flip side, I see many mothers who are practically Super Mom! (Sounds better in American!) Seriously though, I know some mothers and many women who are expert jugglers, multi-taskers, non-stop million and one things to do and can do Moms! I find myself somewhere in the middle. I’m managing to stay organised to a certain extent, developing a routine and getting out of the house- albeit much later than if I was on my own, but we’re getting there. Yet I know many women who manage to rally all their children together and be ready on time for many events, work and commitments. They manage to achieve so much in a day and still find time to help others, have date nights with their partners, eat- even shower! And as I write this, my mind is cast back to when I attended a conference. The preacher explained how many people often wonder how she does it all; juggling 3 kids, pastoring a church, travelling etc. She found many women were comparing themselves to her ability as a mum to be able to do all she does, compared to what they can do. She reassured and encouraged women that what she can handle is perhaps not what someone else can- what someone else can cope with, she couldn’t. We each have our own strengths and abilities.
You see I feel it’s important to be YOU, who God created YOU to be. If you can’t do a million and one things in one day but your friend can- don’t stress about it! That’s great for them and you can encourage them and be inspired- but don’t constantly compare, thinking you’re a failure because what you did today is nothing (you feel) compared to what they’ve achieved. You’ll have skills and abilities they don’t have and perhaps unbeknown to you- compare their skills and abilities to you. You will be forever wavering in who you are if you constantly compare.
Usually, in days gone by I would’ve been so easily swayed by these opinions on how we should parent Ava, but actually for once, I find that I don’t want or need to compare. I’m happy with being unique in my parenting, the things we do and places we decide to take Ava, as long as her best interests and health are put first, are our decisions to make. I would once be swayed by others, but now I’m happy to selectively take on wise advice and be thankful for, but make our own opinion on other parenting decisions.
I wonder how many of us find ourselves in the comparison club? Constantly looking at someone else, comparing your; skills look, style and lifestyle to theirs? Perhaps wishing you had as much money as them? The car they’ve got? I wish my husband/wife was like that? Perhaps you find yourself saying ‘I wish I could be a Mum like that?’ Perhaps your friends have a lavish lifestyle, or they don’t have much but they’re happy! – you wish you had what they had.
Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG)
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Romans 12:6-8)
I’ve written about knowing who you are in Christ before, and again I find myself coming back to the same statement. Stop looking at what others have; who they are, how they look, how they parent, what job they have- wishing you had the same. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to better or improve your skills; to ask God to develop your abilities, to aim high. However, if you constantly find yourself comparing all the time, never happy with what you’ve got, then I feel you need a revelation of knowing who you are in Christ- otherwise I don’t believe you can truly know freedom and be happy.
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Romans 12:6-8)
Carl used to say to me ‘you’re never happy’ and as awful as that was to hear- he was totally right! I always wanted what someone else had and constantly compared myself to others, putting myself down. It made me very insecure and beat me down on many occasion.
With parenting I have learned to accept help and teaching from people I trust about how to do things. The initial thought of the sterilising procedures and making bottles petrified me. I practically convinced myself I was going to end up poisoning our baby somehow- sterilising the wrong way, making up the bottles wrong- it was all a bit of a drama to begin with. However, roughly 160 bottles later- I’m happy to say I can safely make a bottle and don’t know what I was worried about!
But for the remainder of how Carl and I choose to parent our daughter is up to us. We talked about our values and how we wanted to bring her up before she was born. To compare would only confuse Ava. We need to be united on our parenting and be confident that the things we’ve chosen are good and will benefit her. Yes, we may fail at times. We will make mistakes but they will be our mistakes and we’ll learn from them, praying and asking God for guidance and wisdom.
I want to show Ava that I’m a Mum happy in her own skin and personality. I had a moment of weakness when Ava was born- I remember looking down at my tummy and seeing what could only be likened to a deflated balloon. Where was the flat tummy everyone was so sure I’d have after the birth? I immediately worried that perhaps I was to be left with my tummy this way. My pre-pregnancy clothes didn’t fit- would it always be this way? My mind flashed back to the celebrities you see on TV who’s bodies practically spring back to normal – total ‘comparison club’ re-admittance!
As the weeks went on, my tummy was still the same. I soon found out that my stomach muscle had actually split and would take some hard work to repair. Yet in knowing this and the way I was feeling, I looked at my daughter and saw how she cuddled and nestled into my chest- totally oblivious of my belly and how insecure I was feeling, just craving my love and attention. I soon realised if I have to live with this belly, I really don’t care. I’ve sacrificed my body and my tummy is a precious reminder of the 9 months I carried her. I may one day need to encourage and reassure Ava when she has her babies to not let this cause her to compare or develop insecurities, but remind her that her body was a temple for a baby. The scars she bares can be likened to tattooed memories of her baby’s growth- photographs and memories etched on her body.
Sweet brothers and sisters- God made you to be you, no one else! Your blessings are yours- no one else’s! You are chosen! Embrace your own personality, skills and uniqueness! Be who God created you to be and allow the person next to you be who God created them to be! A team of people work best as a team because of the diverse range of skills, talents, personalities and abilities! We are not meant to be the same!
1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
When you think about comparing yourself to someone else; how they live their life, how they do things- look to Jesus. He is the best example. He is the way the truth and the life!
Truth be told, you cannot be happy and envious at the same time.
When you strive to be the person God made you to be, you’ll find real meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction. You can’t focus on your purpose while looking at other people