You see another mom who seems to have it all and suddenly you feel like less of a mother. It usually happens on the days your baby was up all night, you haven’t washed your hair in 3 days and you can’t seem to find a shirt without some sort of stain on it… am I right? I know I’m right because I do it too. We all do it. In fact, it’s really hard not to get jealous. You’re doing your best but feel like you’re barely surviving. Meanwhile you constantly see other women with perfect bodies and well behaved children. This makes you feel like a failure. You’re failing your spouse, your kids and yourself. But guess what? You’re not actually failing at all! You’re doing an amazing job but you just need to stop comparing yourself.
It’s easier said than done, I know. There’s a lot of pressure on mothers. We have unrealistic expectations to do it all and it’s just not possible. From the moment you announce your pregnancy you’re overwhelmed with opinions on everything. You’re told what kind of car seats and strollers to buy, what to feed your baby, and your plans to nurse or not? Oh don’t even go there. This makes it extremely easy to compare yourself to others.
My son, Mason, is 18 months now and we have coslept for the past 10 months or so. Although I absolutely love sharing our bed and that’s what works best for our family, I constantly find myself justifying my reasoning. Before I even mutter out the words I’m bombarded with why I should never have let this happen. The words get to me and instead of being happy with my decision as a mother I begin to punish myself. Later on, with the cosleeping debacle still fresh on my mind, I hop on Instagram and see photos of babies sleeping peacefully in their cribs. This rips me to pieces. I immediately feel like I’m failing Mason and it brings me to tears.
Let’s just recap for a second: This all started with one person’s opinion on what they think is the best way to parent. One opinion and a few square images later and I’m crying about how I’m a failure because I let my baby sleep with me… are you kidding?!
Unfortunately, this is a cycle that most mothers know all too well. Instead of being proud of the decisions we make for our family we feel guilty that it’s not enough. While I love social media and I see the benefits, it makes this comparison game so much worse. Most people aren’t going to share the hard, messy moments. Instead, they’re going to show the perfectly staged image in the clean corner of their home. What you’re seeing isn’t real life. You’re comparing your worst moments to someone else’s best and no good will ever come of that.
Take a look at your own page… is what your seeing real life? Did you share the breakdown you had yesterday when you locked yourself in the bathroom because you were about to lose your shit? No. You shared a beautifully staged photo of your sleeping baby with a caption that life is hard but it’s worth it. You may think you’re sharing #reallife but you’re glossing over how hard it really is. Don’t base your success as a mother on someone else’s highlight reel.
So how do you stop comparing yourself? I have no idea. If there was a simple answer I wouldn’t be writing this post. Let’s start with the jealously though. When you’d normally get jealous of the mothers who seem to have it all try getting inspired instead. If you like the way she dresses or teaches her childen try taking a page out of her book. Don’t be afraid to reach out to her and ask her how she does it. She’ll most likely tell you how hard it really is but maybe give you a few pointers as to what works for her. Don’t consume yourself with trying to duplicate her life but take the advice and work it into your life. Maybe it’ll work and maybe it won’t but you just made another mom friend in the process.
Stop seeing yourself as a competitor. We’re all playing for the same team here. Stop wasting energy feeling insecure and realize we’re all doing the best we can. Don’t judge other moms based on what they have or don’t have–we’re all going through the same struggles. Work on building yourself and others up rather than tearing everyone down. Motherhood is hard enough as it is and we don’t need the constant battle to make it worse.
Remember- you are a strong woman and wonderful mother and only you know what’s best for your family.