My beautiful friend is about to have a baby in May, and the ladies of our church are having a baby shower for her this weekend. So a few days ago, I pulled up her baby registry on Amazon to order some fun items for our new little addition. Exciting, right?
…so why did I actually start getting a knot in my stomach?
I was scrolling though all of the items thinking:
“I remember when I was going to cloth diaper Alijah.”
“Wow, that’s so nifty! Wish I had known about those.”
“She registered for all this organic stuff. What a rockstar.”
“I can just picture her with that little boy now. She’s going to make such a great mom! ..so much better than me.”
Yeah, remember my last post when I had mentioned comparison stealing joy? That was written on the heels of this firsthand experience.
All of this baby stuff was bringing up feelings I didn’t really want to deal with. Before I was able to successfully carry Alijah, I had lost two babies, both in the very early stages of pregnancy. With the first, I never even got to hear a heartbeat. With the second, I did. I’m not sure which one was worse. The loss of these two children made me desperate to be a mom. My chest ached for my babies. In my pain, I promised myself that if I was ever blessed enough to have kids, I would be the best mom I could possibly be.
My Misguided Expectations
I had an image in my mind of what that looked like. The smiles, giggles, and tickles. The cuddles and kisses. My children would be amazingly well-behaved kids and never embarrass me in public. Hah! Let’s all laugh together! I would exclusively breastfeed all of them and avoid contact with unnecessary chemicals–all natural everything for my babies! I was never going to co-sleep because after loss, how could the benefits of co-sleeping ever outweigh the risks? Every ounce of my time and energy would be devoted to their education and development. All of their meals would be healthy. And above all, we would be exceedingly happy.
Some of those things are a stretch, but a lot of them weren’t out of reach. My friend’s registry actually reminded me a lot of my very first registry. It reminded me of the type of mom I had wanted to be.
But that’s not the kind of mom I am at all. Sure there are smiles, giggles, tickles, cuddles, and kisses. But there are also tantrums, screaming, crying, and time-outs. And yes, they have most definitely embarrassed me in public despite my best “mom look.” Breastfeeding? Meh, I did okay but didn’t stick with it for nearly as long as I had planned. The whole cloth diaper thing lasted maybe a month or two, and I also use other products that are most definitely not organic. Co-sleeping started pretty much as soon as my son was born. While I do “school time” with them (and they are pretty smart cookies), I am nowhere near the level of awesomeness I wanted to achieve with their developmental years. For some meals, we eat healthy. Some meals aren’t really meals at all.
And while I find joy in motherhood, we are most definitely not always happy. Let’s just say I lose my patience more than I’d like to admit, and they test my patience like it’s their job.
Comparison in Motherhood
There are probably a lot of you out there who can relate. But for every one of you, there is also one of those near-perfect moms who remind me of who I wanted to be. They exist. It’s not an impossibility. When I look at them, it gives me that knot in my stomach all over again. You have time for all that? How? When I’m looking around, every parenting win for one mom feels like a loss for me. She was able to do that. Why can’t you?
The truth is, I was pretty young when I had my first. I wasn’t stable in my views. And I was going to have to go through some hardship before becoming the woman I am now. As much as I’d like to, can I go back and make anything different? Can I change what has already happened? Of course not.
Here is where most people would say: “But I can go forward and be different.” And that’s true… with something in mind. We need to give ourselves some mercy and grace.
I’m not going to be the perfect mom because the perfect mom doesn’t exist. When my kids don’t act perfect, it’s not because I’ve failed as a mom but because the perfect kid doesn’t exist either. God made each and every one of them different just like every mom is different. If I continue to look around at what other moms are doing, I’m going to rob my kids of the mom I was created to be for them, rob myself of peace and truth, and rob our family of joy.
So no. I wasn’t able to be the mom I originally pictured. I’m not the same kind of mom as my friend is probably going to be. But I’m not supposed to be the same. I’m done looking at all the other moms on Facebook and measuring myself by their stick. What I am going to do is seek God’s heart for my motherhood and go from there.
May we all stop comparing ourselves to one another and celebrate each other instead.
Comparison is the thief of joy.”–Theodore Roosevelt
Until next time,
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