It was an innocent remark. In casual small-talk, she simply referenced a decision she had made for her kids, and it stung me. It shouldn’t have. But I was so raw.
A few days earlier, my child had made a bad decision. It left me stunned, concerned, and — can I admit it? — embarrassed. Will those who saw it chalk the decision up to poor parenting choices on my part?
The same old motherhood insecurities I’ve battled for years reared their heads full force.
I’m not a good mom.
I don’t want to play Monopoly. Again.
I just want to sit down and read.
Why can’t they play without fighting?
I haven’t trained them to be kind.
I’ve been a lazy parent.
I really should be spending more time playing with them.
The attitude? It’s my fault for not addressing it sooner.
If only I were better at [insert godly parenting practice] like [insert friend’s name].
My poor children.
I’m an awful mom.
Needing Friends, Yet Fearing Them
Part of me needed to get out of the house and spend time with friends to snap out of this put-down cycle.
I was raw, remember? I felt like a terrible mom. And by simply being around other moms. I feared judgment — both a judgment of skewed perspective and a judgment of true perspective.
Please don’t hurt me.
As I said, the remark was innocent. It wasn’t about me.
But when you’re already questioning everything about your fitness as a parent, every remark is a mental measuring stick.
I don’t measure up here.
I’m good there.
Whew, barely made it here.
Ugh, not even in the same league there.
And so the spiral of self-pity continues. Sometimes resentment of the one who seems to be doing everything better than me creeps in.
Under normal circumstances, remarks are just that. Words. Not measuring sticks. But when I’m bent down, it’s all a measuring stick.
Measuring Sticks of My Own
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I myself have thrown my own measuring sticks. In my early parenting years – you know, when I knew everything – I’d throw them on purpose. Because everyone should breastfeed and never count to 3 and only read Bible stories before bed and never give them phones in a restaurant.
Now, I try my best to keep my measuring sticks to myself, because I realize all I don’t know. And they hurt others.
But I’m sure I still let them slip even by sheer accident.
Like one Wednesday at a class I taught at church, I shared a Bible reading plan that was working really well with my kids in the morning before school.
Another mom’s wide eyes looked up at me, “How do you do all that in the morning?” I told her what time I get up and how my kids get up on their own. It was no big deal to me.
But I do mornings. I rock at mornings.
I wondered later, for the mom who doesn’t do mornings and has the hardest time getting the kids to school on time, much less reading Scripture during breakfast, did that sting her?
Comparing Our Weaknesses to Another’s Strengths
While comparing my strength to another’s weakness leads to pride, comparing my weakness to another’s strength leads to despair.
And when I’m feeling not-enough, that’s exactly what I tend to do.
I forget that I’m reading Scripture during breakfast and taking them to church and praying with them and all the other things I AM doing well.
Now that my fog of self-pity has cleared, I’m realizing that some of my insecurities are accurate. I am a lazy parent at times. But instead of berating myself and seeing every intentional mom around me as a judgment on my own parenting, I am asking for God to show me what decision I can make today to be a better parent to my kids — regardless of what I see another mom doing.
I’m also trying to be more aware of blanket statements I make to another mom. Because I never know what insecurities she’s battling. And this parenting thing is tough enough without us constantly comparing ourselves to one other.
The only One who knows what I need to be doing for my children, in my home, is the One who sees what goes on at all times and knows the unique needs of my children. And He’s the one whose opinion and guidance I need to seek.