On a hot August afternoon, with a long line of impatient customers behind us, I told my kids they would have to order their own ice cream.
They whined a bit.
They pleaded a bit.
They tried running away.
They did finally each look the employee in the eye and order a small chocolate dipped ice cream cone on their own.
As my kids enjoyed their quickly melting treat; I plopped myself down next to my friend. She immediately commented on how I insisted my kids order on their own. With some defeat in her voice she followed with “I should make my kids do that. You are so good about preparing them to be independent.”
I had never thought of it that way. So, I shared the truth behind why I did it.
We Are Our Own Worse Critics
As moms, we are SO GOOD at comparing ourselves to others and even better about judging other moms. We are quick to find the area we feel we are falling short. Just as quickly we find ourselves resenting that mom for what she seems to be doing better.
Another mom is great at feeding her kids organic, healthy foods.
That mom rocks at having her child in activities that will open up opportunities for them.
We all know the mom that amazes us at how clean and inviting her house always is.
Now my friend thought I had found some magic formula in helping my kids be independent and was comparing her parenting to mine. The truth ,though, is my kids are shy, painfully shy!
It’s something all three of my kids struggle with and it’s something I struggled with as a child. My mother encouraged and supported me in learning to speak up for myself and feel safe. I want to do the same for my kids. My kids ordering an ice cream cone was a simple way to help them practice looking at people and talk to them. They need to practice and practice to be more comfortable and confident.
My friend seemed a little relieved when I shared this with her. Her kids would talk to anyone, about anything. Maybe her kids wouldn’t be ordering on their own anytime soon. Ha!
Don’t Fall Into the Comparison Trap
The next time you find yourself noticing how great another mom is doing something, maybe stop and ask her about it. Compliment that mom on what she is doing so well; ask for some tips or how she thrives so well at it. You just might find out the healthy eating mom has a child with a diagnosis that requires a special diet. That mom who put her child in all the best activities does so because her child has way too much energy. Maybe that mom with the house that looks so clean it could be on a magazine cover has a housekeeper. (Don’t we all wish we had one!) Once you know their story, it’s very hard to fall into that comparison trap.
I have found the more I get to know a mom the less likely I am to compare myself to her. I learn the why behind what she does and realize we are all just trying to do our best. Let’s celebrate each other, learn each other’s stories and stop comparing ourselves.
I’d love to hear what area you are rocking at right now as a mom and why. Even better, tag a mom and tell her what you admire about her.
One more thing, if you know a great housekeeper; send her my way!