“ I don’t know how you do it, kids, school, writing etc.” My answer is always the same, how do any of us do it? We all have different lots and different packages and we love to compare. We compare to make ourselves feel simultaneously worse and better. ‘I didn’t make a big birthday party for my child like so and so did but it’s because I’m a single mom with four kids” at the same time it’s ‘why the hell didn’t I make my daughter a party when so and so did and she’s also a single mom with no family here and no child support.”
The mother with one child and an involved husband is looking at me and saying how the hell does she do it and I’m looking at the woman with 11 kids and a full time job saying how does she do it and she is looking at the woman with 3 step- kids wondering how she does it. We are all so busy looking at one another and wondering how we do it that we forget to look at ourselves. If we are always comparing ourselves, then at some point we are that point of comparison for someone else as well.
There’s the knapsack I can buy my child and then there’s the orthopedic, ethically sourced knapsack I can buy if I were a better mom. There are the school snacks I can buy at 100 for 5$ but if I really loved my child I would buy the organic, non GMO snack for three times the price. There’s the fancy label on my child’s reusable water bottle that shows the world I am an organized mom with her shit together and never loses the cap to this water bottle or the Nestle water bottle with my kids’ name in sharpie.
To be clear, I am not hating on either group. I belong to both. Sometimes I’m the mom with everything labeled but just as equally I’m the mom who forgets today was a class trip and needs weekly reminders as to what time early dismissal is. My point is that sometimes it feels as though we are almost set up in competition. Like bulls in a pen pitted against one another except instead of a red flag, it’s a PTA form. Those bulls could probably be best friends under different circumstances. Maybe not mani/pedi besties but definitely Starbucks acquaintances. Except they are literally bred to compete against one another. If you’ve ever attended a PTA meeting you will recognize the truth in this statement. The Sharon in the room everyone wants to throat punch because she starts every sentence saying ‘oh my son would never, always etc.” and we all hate/envy her because she makes us feel inferior but we still go home and Google the 30$ bento box she was touting because let’s be real, coming up short in comparison is the ultimate bitch slap in the world of ‘mommying’. Until we say f-it and slam the laptop shut and say my kid will just have to deal with having a shitty mom.
But dear Sharon is just using her perfectionism as a shield. As my bestie Brene( she doesn’t know about this bestie relationship but trust you me, it’s real) always says “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame.” Class mom Sharon is just as insecure as the rest of us, just as unsure of her choices. She only feels good in comparison to others. The same way we watch reality TV to assure us we are good people.
So how do we put an end to this? Comparison is the manifestation of our own insecurities. We need to work on building stronger selves that know their value independent of other people. The issue with comparison is that we use it as a means of self shame. It doesn’t propel us further towards our goals, it anchors us firmly in the quicksand of self loathing. The cycle is internal self loathing expels itself as exterior judgement and repeats until we break it. Until we decide to individually take stock of ourselves.
The cycle of judgement ends with self love. We learn to stop judging others when we first learn to accept ourselves. Once we can look in the mirror and accept what we see, a fallible human who still gets up and tries everyday, a person who makes mistakes but takes ownership, a soul worthy of love and respect. Once we accept this as truth, we can begin to accept the truth in others as well.