We all play the comparison game with other moms. (Don’t lie. You do it, too!) Whether we’re side-eyeing another mom’s neat house, well-behaved kids, or particular parenting style, we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. But what happens when you compare yourself to, well, yourself?
Do you compare yourself to yourself?
Or rather, a previous version of yourself?
Before becoming a mother, I had grand ideas of what my life would be like: a perfect house with toys neatly organized in matching canvas bins, a kitchen constantly ready to use because the sink was dishes-free, children who always said, “Yes, sir,” and, “No, ma’am,” and a gorgeous yard where my kids played nicely while I provided all our fresh produce from my huge garden.
*Cue record scratch.*
Even before I had my son, my house seldom looked perfect. We occasionally left dishes in the sink overnight. And the one year I tried to plant a garden, my dogs ate everything I planted before the season even ended.
But, as it turns out, I was much closer to that impossible dream before I became a mom. I prided myself on my organization skills, and did my best to keep our house company-ready most of the time. And I always thought I’d give that garden another go. But here I am, one kid later, and I constantly compare myself to the standard I set in my head.
It’s tempting to compare yourself to the person you were before you were “Mom.”
Perhaps you excelled in the business world and never showed up late to anything. Anyone with a toddler knows showing up late is pretty much the standard when tantrums start on the way out the door.
Maybe your pre-mom house screamed Pinterest-worthy and everything was always in its place. Now toys litter almost every inch of floor-space. And you feel like you spend 99 percent of your “spare” time picking them up.
Perhaps your yard or garden deserved a feature on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. Now you haven’t been in the back for months and do just enough in the front to keep from embarrassing yourself in front of your neighbors.
Even though it’s easy to compare yourself to who you were in your old life, please don’t.
Don’t compare yourself to the old you, mama!
Sure, your life doesn’t look quite like it did pre-kids, but give yourself some grace! You have a bunch of (or even just one!) tiny humans running around that you’re trying to keep alive and maybe raise to be decent people one day.
Of course your house looks different than you imagined! Sure your kids say embarrassing things in front of other people! And unless you hire a yard service, you have some weeds that need pulling!
It’s loud. It’s messy. It smells kinda funny. But guess what else motherhood is? It’s sweet hugs from little arms. It’s the sleepy, “I love you, mama,” at bedtime. It is the excitement and pride from a finished craft project. It’s the joy of splashing in mud puddles.
So stop comparing yourself to some previous version of yourself. Remember, give yourself some grace, mama, because you aren’t the same person from before you had children. Tear down your mental image of what your life should look like, and go enjoy it for what it is at this moment: a messy, adorable, baby/kid/teen-filled life that revolves around love and family.
Originally published May 2019.