I have this temptation to compare myself to other moms. I know I’m not alone in this. My weakness in comparing usually doesn’t lie in desiring the material items or physical attributes of others. My weakness is seeing these women’s strengths and feeling like those qualities need to also be my strengths. I find myself lacking in comparison.
Instead of appreciating the mom who bakes her own bread or has a cleaning schedule or is teaching her preschooler another language, I turn their strengths into something about me. I should be like her. It isn’t because I think ill of her; It is because I admire her. I envy her particular gift or talent or strength. But I want it for my own.
I read too many blogs. Too many social media blurbs. I see the put-togetherness and assume it radiates all aspects and niches in their lives. I focus too much on what others are doing. It distracts me from what God has called me to do, of who God made me to be. We are all unique and gifted differently. We all come from different environments, backgrounds, and families. Why do I expect that we should all carry the same strengths?
I should be rejoicing at the uniqueness that God has given us. The strengths and challenges that make us who we are should be celebrated because God is a creative God. He has made us well. Instead I tend to flip the good I see in others into something “less-than” that I see in myself.
I am still fighting against this. I have ideals and dreams of what I’d like myself and my life to look like. And some of them are attainable with hard work. Changing some of my not-so-glorious habits into new habits. But some of my ideals I need to let go of. It is not who I am, or who my family is. Trying to fit us into a mold that was not meant to hold us will only harm us.
Grabbing onto the truth of who you are and where your strengths lie is so important. Acknowledging our gifts and accepting our challenges (not excusing them, but accepting that they are our particular struggles) will influence how we parent and how we teach. It will affect how we speak, how we set up our home, and how we love. It will impact all of our relationships.
“We are quite free as women to decide by faith, and just to live into it by confidence, that we can be whoever we want to be in our homes. We have different personalities, different values, different priorities. I think children thrive when a mom feels like she is flourishing within the limitations of her personality. That means you’ll never finish everything you ever wanted to. But you don’t have to compare yourself to everyone else because, as a matter of fact, that just produces guilt and fear that you’re not doing enough.” – Sally Clarkson, excerpt from podcast ReadAloudRevival (RAR), Episode 57.
Sarah MacKenzie (host of RAR) also writes on this in her book, Teaching from Rest. Don’t get lost in other people’s strengths and preferences. You have your own for a reason. She encourages readers to make a list of what is true about themselves.
Here is my list:
- My favorite thing to do with my kids is to read to them. We love books, and this is a big part of our family culture.
- I tend to rush towards others’ opinions (usually in the form of books) for answers to my personal struggles. Instead, I need to intentionally prayer and turn to God’s Word first. I need to be discerning in where I seek advice.
- I need time to process and think. I do best writing my thoughts first before speaking about it. I need to give myself margin to think.
- I like knowing what to expect at the beginning of the day. A routine or loose plan helps us all from getting the “crankies.”
- As an introvert, I need time to myself each day. Fruitful rest means to work at my own project/book/writing quietly, not watching tv or browsing the internet (though I still do those, too).
- I need to leave the house almost everyday in order to keep sane. Fresh air and being outdoors lifts my spirit. Even in rain. Even in bitter cold. Even if I just stand in the yard while the kids play.
- I have a strong desire for my kids to be in nature as much as possible, in every season. Explore, get dirty, learn up-close and hands-on. I have yet to be completely satisfied with where we’re at in this. (The practical part of having enough appropriate outdoor attire per season as well as how to explore areas with a wandering toddler and curious child while not completely exhausting myself are things I have to work out. After July, I’ll have a newborn in the mix, so that will change things too!)
- I have more energy in the morning time, and that is the best time for me to be productive.
- Natural, hands-on, experiential learning is my favorite way to teach Plum. And books, lots of quality books.
- While I like plans, I can’t be bound to checklists. I clean in bursts and spurts of random necessity. I have never been successful with a cleaning routine. I’m still trying to figure out if this is a personality quirk or a self-discipline issue.
- I like mismatched patterns and colors and combinations of things you wouldn’t expect to go together. (I LOVE how my Plum dresses. I LOVE my wacky boy’s Einstein hair. They make my heart so happy!) Asymmetrical. And a little bit of mess to keep it real.
What is true about you? I’d love to hear about it!