Have you got a cup of coffee in hand? Get comfy, because this post is a little longer than usual….
I want to talk about comparison, and why as women (actually as humans) we all do it so much and why the unhealthy kind, drives me bonkers. Firstly, know that its natural, and it has been around for as long as the world has existed. Everyone compares. Its all around us, beauty pagents, sports days, competitions. We are bred to want to be the best and “have” the best. But what is “the best?”
I walk into my friends pristine, well laid out, interior designed houses’ and I wish with every inch of my soul that I could have a house like that. I see others with gorgeous big gardens and I find myself dreaming and googling the day away searching for a townhouse that still has a decent sized garden. I am also, naturally, one of the most competitive people I know. I have been since I was a child, but, I like healthy competition and I use it to motivate me to be a better person. On the other hand, I have people telling me, “you’re a super mom”, how do you do it all (I don’t ,but that’s another story). But why do we feel the need to compare? A couple of people have said to me that they have stopped following certain people on social media as they “made them feel like bad moms”. FIRSTLY: There is NO such thing as a “SUPER MOM” (or superwomen if you aren’t a mom). There is no such thing as the “perfect mom”. Every single one of us is perfect in our own way. Every single one of us is trying to juggle multiple balls in the air without slipping on a piece of lego and breaking their necks. Every one of us has our own strengths. That’s what makes us perfect.
I have noticed an alarming trend in my “mum circles”. The number of women I know who are on some sort of medication for anxiety, panic or depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Literally almost 90% of the women I know take some sort of medication to help them cope with the day to day of these debilitating conditions. In the last 10 years the use of antidepressants has increased by 80%. Yes, awareness of post-natal depression and anxiety has increased, and stigmatization has decreased which absolutely leads to more openness, which is fantastic. But, as a “fixer”, It saddens me, I want to know what is causing it? Why is there such a need, why are we struggling within ourselves?”
I am not a doctor, nor did I further my psychology degree past undergraduate level, but logic tells me it is largely linked to pressure and of course the huge lack of, or broken sleep, mums go through (it’s a proven torture method). In those “early sleepless stages” of being a new mum, two things got me through: Firstly, the daily mantra of “this too shall pass”. The sleepless nights, the daily colic, this is a phase and one day it will be over (and it was), so take one day at a time and know that the sun will shine again. The second was; “It is normal” – It’s natural to have your hormones go into overdrive, to be weepy one day and then the next few weeks have no feeling at all because you are just too tired. (disclaimer here: postnatal depression is very very real, and sometimes it is not natural to feel a certain way so please please don’t be afraid to speak to someone).
Pressure not only comes from work and home life, but 360-degrees, from all angles. Trying to “live up” to certain “societal standards” of what the perfect wife and mum should be. Pushing to get that perfectly toned body, to make that perfect dinner, to do that activitity with the kids or to be something or someone that is not true to yourself.
That leads me to talking about social media……
It’s a 2-sided sword for many people. For me personally, social media is motivation. I have never once thought “oh my gosh that woman makes me look so bad”, because, my gosh, there’s a lot of you out there with such incredible talent. If I compared myself to all the incredible women out there, I would have already dug my own grave. I use it as a motivational tool to inspire me. I first turned to social media when I would look for ideas and activities to do with my kids. That’s how my blog blossomed. I realised that a lot of mothers out there wanted ideas and we could all learn from each other. We needed to share the best places to go or relevant, age appropriate activities for our kids. I used it to connect and grow. It was never about “who can do it better”, it was about sharing, and learning. For some people however, it is used as a comparison. Theodore Roosevelt once said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” , so lets turn it around. Use it with purpose, don’t just mindlessly scroll. Use it with intent; to inspire, create or share in a community.
Let me share my flaws: My house is not how I want it, there is so much I would love to do but I have no clue where to start. Its mismatched and messy, but that’s not where my talents lie. I used to enjoy cooking, nowadays it’s a “means to an end” and I just cook whatever I can muster up the energy to after a long day at work. I aspire to be like some of the gourmet chefs I follow on Instagram, (Naqiyah Mayet, you should offer lessons :)), but, at this point, I am not that mum. I may be in the future, but that’s not the chapter I am in right now. In terms of my marriage, I’m not the best wife by far! I fall asleep with the kids most nights and end up leaving my poor hubby to watch TV by myself, but I do have other strengths. I do know one thing though: I LOVE my husband more than the world. I appreciate him and all that he works so hard to provide, faults and all. I love him. I adore my children, more then I can ever put into words, and I miss them so much in the day my heart aches. I know that life has seasons, stages and chapters. So perhaps, in the future, when I have more time and my kids have a more exploratory palette I’ll find my joy in cooking again, maybe one day when my focus is not so much on buying month to month essentials; I’ll be able to spend a bit more money on my house. But for now, my chapter is trying to find that balance between work, my kids and my hubby. Trying to raise well balanced, well mannered boys, who are not materialistic.
I accept that I’m not perfect. I know my faults, and I try to own them. (Ask my husband, I am so messy I literally need someone to follow me around the house :), but I am improving!)
So please mama’s, let’s not compare, lets appreciate and see other’s strengths and admire each other for them. You have your own, you may not see it yourself, but your children will. Your loved ones will. We are stronger as a community and if we all utilise one another’s strengths, instead of trying to compete against one another, we will lift each other up. Maybe your strength is making pretty lunchboxes for your kids, and maybe it’s not, but that’s okay. Remind yourself that what you see on other people’s “outsides” cannot compare to what your value is on the “inside”. KNOW YOUR VALUE. Your life is what YOU make of it. So live the best life you possibly can! Whether you find your joy in creating art with food and beautiful spaces, or whether you find your joy, like me, in watching young minds learn, explore and mess 🙂 Find your joy and let It fly!
I hope this post makes sense and I hope we can all support each other and lift each other up. We are all just trying to be the best humans/wives/mothers we can be. Be proud of who you are and what you offer. You are unique and that’s what makes you perfect!