A few weeks ago, I headed out early on a Saturday to get photos and videos of some of my co-workers leaving to help restore electric service to residents of South Carolina after a storm. I threw on a baseball cap, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
When I got to the meeting spot where the crews were, another one of my co-workers, who is married to one of the men who was leaving, showed up just a couple of minutes after I did. Both of her little ones were with her and all three outfits coordinated. Her hair, fixed. Her makeup, flawless. There was contouring, people. Contouring. And she had freshly-painted signs with her for her kids to hold up for their daddy.
I laughed on my way home, thinking, there is no way at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, I would look that good, let alone have my (one) child in an outfit that coordinated with mine. I wasn’t laughing at her though. On the contrary, I thought the time and care she took to go see her husband for a few minutes was touching. I was laughing at myself and thinking about how I would – or wouldn’t – measure up.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent
I have probably spent too much time this year comparing myself to other wives and moms. There is a Facebook group for coach’s wives I am part of and, while the whole purpose of the group is to encourage one another during what is sometimes a hard time of the year, there are lots of women who post about all the special things they do for their coach husbands. They bake cookies and buy gifts and make goodie bags for the players and give massages and cook dinner for the coaching staff and have big plans for National Coaches Day (This is a THING?! As if every day from August through November isn’t Coaches Day?!). They cut the firewood and mow the grass and cook the meals and some of them even talk about certain, um, things they do for their coach for, um, stress relief, I guess? The whole thing makes me feel exhausted just reading it. And inadequate, if I let it.
There’s always that one person
We all know how it is. You think you are doing good buying your baby organic food until you meet the mom who makes her baby’s food. From vegetables she grew herself in her backyard. You are proud of the school project you helped your kid with. And then you see the mom who used her loom to weave thread made from sea grass to construct a realistic replica of a village complete with a working aqueduct system. (I have no idea if that sentence even makes sense. Can you weave sea grass on a loom? If that is a thing that can be done, I guarantee some mom you will come in contact with will have done it.) It goes on and on. The comparison never ends.
Talent Scouting Moms
We all know comparison is the thief of joy, and we all know the danger of comparing someone else’s outward and filtered Instagram best with our messy and raw inner worst.
But maybe comparison doesn’t have to be the thief of joy. In fact, let’s not think of it as comparison or even call it comparison from now on. Let’s call it talent scouting and use this to our advantage.
We all have things we do well. Some of us have brilliant business minds. Some have a flair for style and design. Some are excellent at organization. The list of things my fellow mom friends are good at is endless – from tutoring and crafting to setting up college funds and being an encourager, our talents, ladies, are endless and we can help one another.
INFJ, DISC, LMNOP
Most people who have worked in an office have, at some point, had to do a personality profile. You have probably been assigned a group of letters or colors or some other classification group based on your talents and abilities. Some companies have people wear their classification on a name badge, so team members know this is the go-to person for details or that is the big picture thinker, etc.
Wouldn’t it be great if our fellow moms had stickers denoting their talents – this one is great at comforting criers, that one is a great cook, this one will help you come up with a business plan for your online crafting business, she is a boss at math homework and so on. That way we could scout each other out in car line or at meetings.
Or maybe there could be some sort of Mom Tribe app where moms could put up a profile and tell us all about her talents. See? I need a mom who is a tech wiz to create this! Since we don’t have apps and stickers (YET) I recommend two things:
- Appreciate the talents of the women around you and think of ways you can learn from one another.
I’m not saying that your neat-freak friend needs to spend her days scrubbing your floors or that you need to do taxes for the neighborhood because you have a knack for finance, but let’s find ways to share our gifts with one another when we can. Let’s truly appreciate each other’s talents instead of feeling less than because we don’t have the same ones.
So, while you are beating yourself up for not being a great cook, someone you know is wishing they were as good at public speaking as you are, or whatever the case may be.
If there is an opportunity to work together and help one another, whether it’s as a team mom or PTA projects, let’s be gracious with our strengths and – gasp! – ask for help.
- We should really give ourselves a break.
I get weird about people being in my house when it’s not perfect, but some of the best times I’ve had in someone else’s home are when there are toys and laundry lying around and the hostess just isn’t bothered by it. Think about it – when you visit someone’s home do you really care if there is a basket of unfolded laundry on the couch or stacks of school papers on the counter? If you enjoyed spending time with someone, did you really care that there were dishes in the sink? My guess is no. And was being in a perfect house really the point? Again, no.
The fact is, none of us are good at All Of The Things. We aren’t supposed to be. If you find a mom who appears to be, chances are, she is looking at you and thinking the same thing. Or she is exhausted. Maybe instead of feeling like you don’t measure up, you should sit her down and buy her a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Give her permission to take a nap. She probably needs one. And then you can add barista, mixologist and shoulder to cry on to your list of talents for any other moms who are talent scouting.