Tell me about a time when you compared yourself to another mom and how did that experience help you grow in your role as a mom?
This is the first of a series of posts in which I will answer questions I’ll also be asking other moms on different topics that inspire us to be better versions of ourselves. The conversations I have with other moms will be saved for a bigger writing project, but I want to share my stories on the same topics here at Nurturing People.
When I first became a mom I had one other friend with kids in my city, and she was also my sister. I decided it’d be good to make some more friends. Good for my son and good for me. I joined a local group for moms on the site MeetUp.com. I was equal parts nervous and excited to meet new women with hopes that we’d become friends. One of the first playdates my son and I went to was at Molly’s house. She lived in a bigger house than me, in a newer neighborhood, plus she was a champ at having a craft and snacks at her playdates. Also, her house was filled with toys. Glorious colorful toys. I’m pretty sure Santa’s elves would be jealous of the set up in Molly’s home. So many toys in such a perfect house with all the snacks.
As a first time mom with a toddler, I was immediately thrown into a comparison trap. I left those playdates super energized because Molly was awesome and fun to be around. I met some great women with kids at Molly’s playdates. Our kids played well together, and also got to experience the pains and gains for sharing stuff. Since I am not that crafty and DIY stands for Did It, Yuck!, my kid got to experience fun crafts at her house and not mine. Fine by me.
What wasn’t fine by me was how I would arrive home from Molly’s playdates and start surfing the internet for more toys to buy, because I felt like we didn’t have enough. My son would latch onto a new toy at her house, and I’d strongly consider the need for that toy in our house. I would also sit in my house and look around at the layout of our floorplan analyzing how I’d never be able to have a quality playdate in my home. Slowly I could see the bars forming around me as a little DIY jail cell began to rise up from the depths of my mortal soul. I was taking something fun for me and my son, and making it ugly.
Molly indirectly taught me so much about being a first time mom. She doesn’t know it, but her kindness and open door-ness inspired in me the dormant desire I had to host and share my home with other moms and kids. However, I had to do it my way, but took some figuring out. It took me a few months to discover what parenting and hosting playdates looked like for us. It’s a category of hosting I never did prior to being a mom. Evidently, there’s a style to playdates that can be home grown and uniquely yours.
I processed my false feelings of motherhood inadequacy with a few close sistas, and by doing so a friend recommended I read the book “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne. The pages are drenched with insights about how to raise calm and happy kids with less stuff in your home.
My brain ate that book up like my one year old eating his smash cake. I was all kinds of messy. Within those pages and between the conversations I had with a variety of moms, all with different parenting styles, I discovered my style of momming. That style reached over into how I shared my home for a playdate. One extra bonus is my husband jumped into the book too and felt like it fit his parenting style as well. Slow-motion high five! It was helpful to discover our parenting-selves together.
I got brave and invited other people into my home, without comparing and to share. To share without comparing and to be a mom who sees our different styles of bringing up kids as a major bonus. A bonus for me and for my children.
That experience of comparing challenged me to really figure out the kind of mom I feel most comfortable being while raising babies and toddlers. I don’t like comparing, but it’s something I naturally struggle with and am actively working to change. Recently my husband shared this bit of insight he heard the cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, share. Dr. Leaf studied the brain and discovered our mind is separate from our brain and our mind actually changes our brain. Comparison lives in my mind, then my brain responds by directing my actions. Change my mind about comparing and I’ll change my outcomes.
It took Molly in my life to help me change my mind and refine my parenting style, making me a better mom and playdate host. I like people who make us better people. Thank you Molly for being authentically you, and for sharing your you with so many people.
So, that’s how comparing helped me grow into the mom I am today.
If you have a story about growing through comparing, let’s talk. Email me a blurb of your experience, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll follow-up with you.
Love you more than candy,