I’m going out on a limb talking about this; a limb the mommy wars might saw off at any moment, and I’ll go tumbling to an untimely internet death.
But this message is worth the fall, if I take it. Because I’m really over the assumptions we’re making – these assumptions we women make about each other.
I represent part of the “Type A” mom crowd. This has nothing to do with the fact I produced two children in the last three years. It’s who I’ve always been. I like red lipstick, real clothes, and my shower (almost) every day. I actually do believe it’s possible to have both clean floors and happy kids. And for me, this more structured life works well. Our particular family wouldn’t be as peaceful without it.
So it’s been discouraging to see, in the Almighty Social Media, conversations implying that women whose houses are organized, or who like to wear makeup every day, or who generally run a tight ship, are somehow “unrealistic”, “unattainable”, or even lying about their motherhood. But what if none of that were true?
I was convicted, a few weeks ago, when someone about whom I’d made some big assumptions turned out to be a hurt individual with a really loud facade. And I’m not alone: it’s human to make assumptions. We like to think we’ve got people figured out; that we know their story. We like to hold their lives up to our insecurities and deem them lacking – if not in organization, then in nurture.
But some of us are Type-A with tight ships because that’s who we are. We’re not out to prove anything. We’re not playing a comparison game. And if anything, we’re sitting at play group second guessing our every word, wondering if we’re “too much”, beating ourselves up for possibly making someone else feel bad for how we live and dress and parent… even though the response of others is completely out of our control.
Some of us operate better with routines and schedules. Some of us sleep train because we like to sleep. Some of us like our shower and our makeup because it makes us feel human, yes, it helps us mom better. But our choice to paint on some Maybelline in the morning is not a statement about anyone else. It’s not a judgment. These choices aren’t rooted in some desire to “be better” than other moms, to “have it all together”. We’re just like you: we want the best for our kids, we want to be good moms, and this is how we do it.
I wish, I wish, we could give one another some grace in this hard world. We look at the ones who are organized or appear like life is easy-peasy and instead of grace, we hand down judgment. We look at them through the lens of insecurity instead of embracing these women like anyone else.
Why do we do this dance of comparison? Why is the internet so hard on the “together” mom? I think it’s because we’re threatened by the idea that someone has life “figured out”… that we’re falling behind, that we’re not good enough.
But in reality? We all have those moments, “together” or not.
We dance with comparison because we think, in that fleeting second, that security can be bought with superiority. So we tell ourselves:
Maybe she’s organized, but I bet her kids don’t get the attention they deserve.
Maybe she spends tons of time with her kids, but I bet her house is a wreck.
Here’s a truth about the mommy wars or any kind of comparison trap: you can elevate yourself by lowering another, but the elevator you built always comes back down.
You’ll be here again. You’ll meet another mom who makes you feel inadequate and you’ll face the same insecurity, the same thoughts… unless you put a stop to it.
What would happen if we stopped measuring who has it “together” and who doesn’t? Perhaps we’d find that, more important than looking “together” is being together. Learning together. Raising disciples together. Checking our insecurities at the door and just accepting people for who they are, not how they measure up to our failings.
We’d find that we can actually learn from the unique gifts of the other. We’d find that people aren’t thinking as much about us as we think about us. And we’d find that, when we stop thinking about us in general, the threat we originally perceived is somehow… gone.
When we are worried about measuring the successes and failures of others against our own, we aren’t really living. When we judge the state of one another’s living rooms, how can we go deeper as friends? When everything becomes competition, there can be no community. The mom who “has it all together”… doesn’t always have it all together. No one does.
We are all in a continuous state of growth. No one has this life figured out, no one has it “together”. When you bring that understanding to your relationships, it frees you to love people, imperfections and all. It doesn’t matter if they are Type A or Type B, Enneagram 1 or 7, ENTJ, ISFP, or just plain human.
Who they are is not a reflection on who we are.
Who they are is an opportunity to love.
Isn’t that what we want our kids to see?