When Comparison Kills Joy

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Social media is a wonderful place for mothers, but it can also be the worst. Have a question about why your baby is doing something and want to gain some wisdom from moms who have been there? Join a Facebook group of your liking and ask away. You’ll get suggestions within minutes and will often feel relieved that what you are experiencing is completely normal and something all moms occasionally struggle with. Or maybe you Googled your question and found a blog post by a mom telling you how she got her kids to sleep through the night, poop on a potty, and make their own dinner by 3 months old and now you feel like a failure of a mom and wonder why God gave you such a difficult child.

We all do it. It’s hard to escape the pull that comparison has on us when it is so easily at our fingertips at any given moment. I love Pinterest and Instagram as much as the next person, but I noticed that if I’m not very intentional about how I use them, they can be instant joy killers. I’ll be on the couch in my pajamas, no make up, hair a mess, my kid is running around without pants, my living room was just hit by a toddler tornado, and my fridge is looking skimpy and it’s questionable how long that cheese has been in there. Meanwhile, I’m scrolling through perfectly curated Instagram feeds of moms capturing “real moments” of their children sleeping peacefully in an adorable outfit that all together costs more than my entire grocery bill or their children playing contently in a clean bedroom with a perfectly made bed and all the clothes still in the drawer and you begin to wonder, am I the only mom completely failing at keeping a Instagram worthy home? Is my kid the only one fighting naps like it’s their job or spending a larger part of the day in pajamas and mismatched socks because we already lost two pairs and these were the last in the drawer? I know I most certainly am not, but when I’m alone comparing my life to these moms I instantly feel like I am not meeting my requirements as a mother and wife and even friend. I’m lucky to pull myself together before nap time and if the kitchen is clean, it’s a miracle. At first I feel motivated and decide today we are staying inside, playing some music and we are going to clean up every corner of the house! And once I begin I quickly realize that plan is unrealistic because as soon as I get the clothing put away, there is a little person trailing behind me pulling out all of daddy’s socks and wearing his hopefully clean underwear around their neck. Which leads me to my next point.

Comparison is the breeding ground for resentment. Because once you turn around and see that your sweet child is undoing all that you just did and while you were putting those clothes away, they probably took the books off the shelf as well. You start to resent them because they are the reason you can’t have nice things or a clean house or a beautifully photographed Instagram feed. You start to curse your husband under your breath for not helping clean when they get home from a 50 hr work week and for that long list of house projects you gave them months ago and you are still waiting for that picture to get hung. Heck, you even take it out on your mother-in-law because they should know that you are struggling to be Martha Stewart in this Pinterest-driven world and should offer take your children 3 times a week so you can finally make that coffee filter wreath you pinned a year ago. Suddenly you are unhappy with everyone and everything in your life, and now is the time you turn over your frustration and yell at God for not blessing you with the perfect life. Why is everything so hard?! Why are they happy and I’m not?

Newsflash, happiness is all about perspective and when you can only see what everyone else has and can’t be thankful for what’s right in front of you, you will never be happy. Happiness happens when you spend less time looking at a computer screen and more time being present with your family. Happiness comes from holding your babies during nap time and wondering where they got such beautiful eyelashes. It comes from leaving the housework to get ice cream after dinner. It comes from being more concerned about living in the moment than capturing the right moment. It’s not even about whether or not your house and life is as perfect as those other moms. It’s about being able to be honest that is not your life (and it’s probably not really their life either, because let’s be honest, no one’s house is that tidy with 3 children and a goat.) Your life is what you make it and you can spend it worrying about every little thing being picture perfect, or you can spend it loving on your family and filling them with memories.

If you need a place to start, start unfollowing. If a friend’s success is making you feel like not enough, unfollow them right this minute. You will be doing yourself a huge favor. Someday you might be able to follow them again or have a curated Instagram feed, but not until you reset your heart to be happy with where you are in your journey. Because your journey is unique and specifically written for you.

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