We’ve all heard it more than once: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. And indeed, it is. We tell others not to compare themselves. We claim that we don’t, but let’s get real for a second. Whether intentionally or subconsciously, comparison is something that we naturally do as human beings.
As a work-from-home mom, I’ve found myself in a unique position. I’m not the full-time working mom nor am I a stay-at-home mom; yet I find myself trying to live up to the standards of both.
And why? Because I’m comparing myself to women who fall exclusively in either category.
Photo by Brianna Claassen Photography
I look at women in my industry who either don’t have children yet or utilize full-time child care and are therefore able to work 40 plus hours per week, and I try to keep up. I log 18-20 hours of work (not counting shooting sessions and weddings) on a good week, and here I am trying to keep up with the 40 hour/week woman.
I’m trying to do the same amount of work in half the time. That sounds absolutely insane when I say it out loud. I refuse to sacrifice the quality of work I do in order to keep up, so naturally I get behind. I stress out. I pray for Beckett to take a three hour nap. I catch back up by squeezing in hours of work here and there. And then I repeat the cycle.
On the other hand, I look at the stay-at-home moms of the world and feel that I need to 100 percent fulfill that role as well. The house gets cleaned once a week, laundry is done on a weekly schedule, dinner is cooked nearly every night and I run all of the errands and do all of the things that a stay-at-home mom would do.
I tend to forget incredibly easily that a stay-at-home mom doesn’t work 20 hours a week. She doesn’t give up her Saturdays to shoot weddings. Her body doesn’t ache all day on Sunday from the inevitable wedding hangover caused by being on your feet for 10 hours and lugging around bags of cameras and the like.
Being a stay-at-home mom is not an easy job, but a stay-at-home mom focuses solely on being just that. Fifty percent of her brain isn’t taken up by thinking of all of the business things she has to do when her child goes down for a nap.
So why is it that I try to be 100 percent SAHM and 100 percent working mom when I’m really 50 percent of each? Comparison, plain and simple.
And truth be told, I think we all fall into this trap at one point or another, especially as moms.
We feel we have to be everything to everyone. We have to do everything perfectly for our children. Advice is spewed at us from every direction.
We see our supermom friend, Jane, on Facebook absolutely killing it – feeding her 17 children only organic food, involving them in all of the developmentally appropriate programs, reading them the best books and dressing them in the most fashionable outfits – and what do we do? We don’t cheer for Jane. No. We kick ourselves. Because if Jane can be unbelievably amazing at mothering 17 kids, why can’t we get our you-know-what together with one or two?
And so we throw ourselves into our motherhood role and try to fulfill all of these insane roles and expectations that we feel we should be doing; not stopping to think about what we’re really best at doing and what our children will benefit from the most.
We stress ourselves out. We go nonstop. We don’t take care of ourselves.
I refuse to believe that this is the way that life is supposed to be lived.
As mothers, we were actually not created to be EVERYTHING to our children. We are not God. I mean I’m not. You can speak for yourself I guess.
There are other people in our children’s lives for a reason. They have strengths and qualities that we don’t possess, and they can teach our children things that we, as mothers, can’t. And that is 110 percent ok.
It’s not just ok, it’s actually wonderful. Because then we can take some of that pressure off of ourselves. We can look at Jane on Facebook and say, “You go girlfriend!”, and know that while Jane may be amazing at those few things, we are amazing in our own ways.
We pour into our children’s lives in our own unique God-given ways that only we can. And that is why we our children’s mothers. They don’t need us to be everything, and they don’t need us to be the same kind of supermom that we sometimes come across on social media.
They only need us to be who we were created to be. That is all. And it’s a beautiful and freeing thing when we can own that and be that.