Redeemed Motherhood – Comparison

I am never very satisfied with what I have.  Somebody always has something that I think would make my life different, better, more fulfilling.  It is a constant struggle for me to look at what I have in my life and count it as good.  Count it as a enough.

I’ve struggled with this all my life.  Those days when I would go to school in the thrift store specials while other girls wore their designer jeans.  Other girls were prettier than me and smarter than me.  Other girls were just somebody other than… ME. 

A lot of that I can chalk up to teenage angst.  A rite of passage that I think most of us go through as we navigate the craziness of this world.

But nothing, and I mean nothing, prepared me for the stronghold comparison can have on your life when you become a mother.  

From the moment you walk into your Doctor’s office you’re inundated with information about how to do it better, right, more healthfully.  You start talking with your friends and the conversation always comes around to measuring.  Everything.

“How much weight did you gain?”

“What pre-natal vitamin did you take?”

“Where are you buying your maternity clothes?”

And so the story goes on.  It’s not our intention to begin creating the longest yardstick, but we do and before we know it our standards are so high that we’ve lost the joy and wonder of being with child. 

It doesn’t stop with pregnancy.  Comparative birth stories are next. We talk about size and epidurals and how natural and breast is best.  And we don’t realize that the woman sitting next to us begins to feel less-than because her induced labour produced beast like contractions that she finally succumbed to the spinal block.  Or, the other one who is hanging on by her last thread because she’s been told that breast is best for as long as is possible.  Little do you know her six month old has teeth and biting is his new favourite hobby and she’s been secretly substituting the dreaded bottle for more and more of his feedings.  She’s too afraid to tell you that she’s tired and wants to put a stop to being the portable lunch counter. 

Throughout the years we are constantly comparing mothering and parenting and which naughty stool works best.  The best clothes, the best diapers, the best, the best, the best.  Before you know it the best becomes our anchor that chains us to the expectations of others and we lose site of the wonder of seeing the world through a child’s eyes.

Even now as I recall my mothering, I am still comparing what I’ve done with what I should have done. I’m still living as if I wasn’t a good enough mother.  My children are all but grown and I still wrestle with those feelings of inadequacy and think that their lives could have been better… if only. 

If only I had stayed home more often.  If only I hadn’t been so selfish and bought those pair of shoes or that pair of pants perhaps we could have afforded the braces.  If only I had spent more time reading and less time in front of the TV then then we wouldn’t need the special tests and education plan.  And it’s a vicious circle that keeps us in a constant loop of comparison. 

What if we stopped comparing and started holding hands?  What if we reached out with a hug instead of advice when we see a newly pregnant woman or struggling mama with a testy toddler?

What if we stopped wrestling with the expectations of this world and started resting in our Father?

What if we just stopped seeing life (parenting) as a life full of things we should have done, could have done, and what others ARE doing  and start seeing it for moments of gift and grace.

We’ve made mistakes.  Lord knows I’ve made enough of them… but here’s the thing, so has the other mom whom you think might have it all together, or the other woman whose children appear angelic.

What we’ve left undone, the moments we’ve yelled and screamed and shook the kitchen with our door slamming frenzy?  They’ve been covered, by the grace of the cross and a Saviour who never measures us by anything other than… we are enough. 

Pick up a yardstick to measure your life against anyone else’s and you’ve just picked up a stick and beaten up your own soul.” — Ann Voskamp 

You mama?  Yes,  you.

You are enough. 

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