Comparison -- It's real. It's ugly. And it's unavoidable most days. And since becoming a mother, it can be particularly fierce can't it? We are so quick to assess why we don't measure up to the well-dressed mother we see at preschool drop-off while we're still wearing sweatpants. Or the organized mother we see volunteering at the PTA meeting while we can barely get the kids out the door fully clothed every morning. Or the nutrition-conscious mother we see packing the perfect healthy lunch for her kids at the park while our kids are eating doritos and french fries. No judgin here, folks.
If any of you are a part of M.O.P.S. (Mothers of PreSchoolers) this Fall, you may have seen their fantastic new theme for the year. And if you've never heard of M.O.P.S, please contact me and I will tell you all about how wonderful they are! The theme is "Be You, Bravely." So simple, yet so profound.
Among the many things you can take from this three word mantra, for me, it reminded me to BE THE MOTHER GOD DESIGNED ME TO BE. And do so with courage and confidence! Each of us is gifted differently and that is a wonderful thing. We can't spend time worrying why we don't have the same motherly gifts as someone else. We were given specific children, with specific needs, and gifted with specific strengths to accommodate them. So let's OWN those strengths, ladies! And let go of tendency to wish you had a gift that someone else has.
There are several wheelhouses that I very much belong in, and there are others that you don't want me anywhere near. Put another way, there are areas where I can set myself up for success as a mother, and there are areas where I can set myself up for failure. And thankfully, after almost 7 years of trial and error, I know what mine are. And I am starting to finally live them out in confidence knowing there is no other person who can be ME.
For example, I have realized after many miserable attempts, that I hate baking with my children. HATE.IT. It causes anxiety for me, which then means the kids have no fun. It's a big fat #MomFail for me. For many years, this made me sad. Because as a mother (especially around the magical holidays) I was suppose to bake and make memories and enjoy my kids company in the kitchen! Well guess what....ain't nobody got time for mommy's baking rage (which is similar to road rage in many ways, fyi). I have decided to let that one go and stop comparing myself to my friend Kristin who will happily bake with her children for hours. VOLUNTARILY. More power to her!
But hey, God gave me a deep love of art and creativity and very little need for control or perfection in this area. This means I actually enjoy and encourage my kids to make artful messy creations any time they want. I have endless patience for playdough, and messy paintbrushes, and 4,357 tiny beads all over my house. If my daughter asks to use the formal dining room to build a fairy house out of recycled boxes and glue and paint, I say, "Great idea!" If my son wants to cut a piece of construction paper into 7,000 little pieces, I say "Have at it, Buddy!" In fact, at any given point during the day, my kitchen table is covered in art supplies and recently abandoned creative projects. Ironically, my friend Kristin who I mentioned earlier, has zero patience or interest in this. We often laugh about swapping kids and offering baking class at her house and art class at mine.
There are so many other "wheelhouses" I could mention as well...
I am really great at naturally infusing lessons about faith into our daily lives and conversations with my kids. But ask me to get on the floor and engage in pretend play with my 4-year-old? Can't.do.it.
I am happy and cheerful first thing in the morning and enjoy making my kids a hot breakfast. But by 8pm, cheerful mom is long gone and I am "get in bed NOW" mom and have no interest in long drawn out conversations or bedtime stories.
In the summer months, I loooooove to take my kids on picnics and play in the sand and spend the whole day at the pool with them. In the winter months, I hibernate and huddle near the fireplace. And when the kids ask me to go outside and play in the snow with them I laugh as if they've just asked me to do something preposterous like cut off my own arm.
We are all wired differently. And it's been quite freeing to feel happy for my girlfriends who can do all the motherly things that I'm not good at. And instead of feeling inadequate as a mother, I am able to be ME, bravely.
Hi my name is Bri. I am disorganized and forgetful and you don't want me to sign up to be Homeroom Mom. But I will gladly abandon my to-do list in the middle of the day just to cuddle with my kids whenever they want me to. I hate to sit on the floor and play barbies, but I will pack us a fun picnic lunch, grab a blanket to lay on and find a beautiful spot to read books and talk about God's goodness. I won't be volunteering for every committee at my kids school, but I will be intentional about getting to know the other moms in my daughter's class and meet up with them for coffee or a playdate.
Be you, bravely mamas! Your kids don't care if you're dressed nicer than another mom or if you cook better or keep a perfectly up-to-date scrapbook of their childhood. They just want you fully present, just as you are. Let them see you living out your God-given strengths, and at the same time, let them see you cheering on your mom friends in theirs.