By MomGAL Expert Laurie Foley
Want to know the most courageous thing I ever did as a mom? I stopped comparing myself to other mothers. The terrible habit of measuring my life with the yardstick of others had become nothing more than a stick to beat myself. Every time I thought “She’s thinner,” I was the emotional loser. Every time I thought “Her kids are better behaved,” I was the bad mother.
At one point in my life, it had become such a habit that it was completely unconscious. I was just measuring, measuring, measuring but never looking back to see how far I had come or even questioning if I was measuring things that truly mattered to me.
It took meeting the Perfect Mother for me to see what a hole I had dug for myself. I bet you didn’t know there was a Perfect Mother out there. Indeed, I didn’t either until I met her. Her name was, well, let’s just call her Perci, and she showed up in my book group. I still don’t know who invited her. She just appeared one night.
Perci had perfect hair, was the perfect weight, was extremely well read, and talked charmingly about her perfect husband and her perfect son. I hated her. Which, deep down, meant that I hated myself. I was polite but I was uncomfortable around her.
Meeting her I had to mentally borrow several stiff yardsticks to measure my shortcomings and whip myself into a complete frenzy. And then it dawned on me: all her perfection was not appealing in the least. She was like a china doll under a glass dome. Cold, brittle, and, quite simply, not real in the ways that made my other friends so dear to me.
I’m not knocking Perci. I mean, she had it too-gether. I just had a big a-ha while she sat across from me recommending books I’d never heard of. I realized that all of my measuring was keeping me stuck instead of letting me just cut loose, laugh, make mistakes, and get up laughing from them.
So I quit. Right then and there. I quit measuring, and I had another glass of wine and let go of the whine in my head.
Now, without those yardsticks in my quiver, I don’t get to call myself a bad – or a good – mother anymore. I shudder when I think of how much energy went into all of that measuring that could have gone into conversations or fun or just getting better sleep.
Without comparing, I now get to choose what matters to me and release the rest. The essence of courage is acting from my heart, and that is what I choose now. Without comparing, I am, quite simply, enough. And guess what? You are, too.
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