by Heather Isminger
petals of joy.org
My hair tortured me for decades. High Florida humidity + not quite curly hair = disaster. On a regular basis.
I can’t tell you the hours I spent wishing I’d been born with different hair.
Middle school was a horrific combination of pubescent awkwardness with a brushed-out perm. Granted, it was the 80’s, but I don’t think French poodle was the look I was after. I’ve sworn off perms since.
High school managed to offer a slight improvement. The absence of chemical curls and a hair dryer managed to somewhat tame the wild beast. That is, until I walked outside and met the blanket of wet air covering my state all year.
The millennium ushered in the introduction of the flat iron and glorious hair products. I was saved. Queue the hallelujah chorus. I learned to work with the locks my momma gave me, and embraced what my hair was capable of instead of wishing it away.
I could finally look in the mirror and smile.
As unsophisticated as the comparison sounds, my experience with motherhood has been similar to my hair journey.
Just as my hair so often failed, I often see myself as a failure with my children.
I struggled to breast feed both of my babies. Both children have had multiple cavities. I rarely pack lunches with cute little notes. My daughter’s scrapbook ends at month eight, and my son doesn’t even have one. I lose my temper and yell at my kids. I don’t like to play pretend games on the floor, lasting all of five minutes before I’m looking for a reason to stop. I work full-time and often miss their school events. Too many frozen pizzas make their way to my dinner table during the week.
I fail in parenting a thousand different ways.
But, do you know my single biggest fail as a mother?
Comparing myself to other moms.
It’s easy in our social media society to get lost in the filtered activities and events of our mother counterparts. We look at cleaned up kids on our screens as our own rugrats sit across from our plates of frozen pizza, grinning with red sauce on their cheeks.
We see Pinterest parties with matching decor and homemade everything and suddenly Chuckie Cheese is looking pretty cheesy.
We scroll through Instagram images of perfect family portraits, and sigh at the gorgeous, have-everything-together mommas with their happy-to-sit-for-their-
It’s painful sometimes to view our children, our family, our mothering through the mirror of social media, television, and pop culture.
It’s painful because as hard as we try, we can’t Photoshop the reality of our own mothering. We’re left with the scars of comparing ourselves to the dream-lives played out across our screens.
But what if we were never supposed to act like the mothers we hold on high?
What if the only mother I was ever to be was myself?
Momma? We’ve got it all wrong. Because this mothering is hard enough. Trying to be someone else in this life is too demanding, and in reality – impossible. We will never be someone else.
We can only be ourselves.
I know this is a lesson we all attempted to learn in our teen years, but something about birthing children causes the ancient insecurities to resurrect themselves in our lives as mothers.
Here is what I’m learning. The easiest mothering? The best mothering? The calmest mothering?
When I’m me.
When I hold myself up to the standard of other mothers, I will fail a thousand times.
But when I’m me? Triumph is within my grasp.
Because I am enough.
You are too.
My children don’t need any other mother in this world except me.
Momma? Stop wishing you were someone else. Don’t believe the lie that your children would be better off with another mom. Because that is a flat-out lie.
Instead? Believe you have beauty to offer your children. Know that your children are blessed to call you mommy. Trust that you were chosen to mother your children.
When we choose to be ourselves as mothers and stop the train wreck of comparison, we can begin to rest – rest in the idea that we are imperfectly perfect.
Our children need our imperfections. They need to know it’s okay to struggle in life. They need to know they can struggle and still be whole. Our children won’t learn to embrace their own identity if we spend our parenting lives spinning a web of perfection for the world.
Momma? Be you.
Your children don’t need Pinterest parties, unless that’s your thing. They don’t need the room mom with homemade goody bags for every holiday, unless you can rock it without anxiety. They don’t even need matching clothes – unless your own OCD kicks in, in which case it would cause more stress for you.
No. Your children need you.
The amazing momma. You!