Thou Shall Not Covet... Another Mother's Tribe
I’m currently working on a few pieces in the vein of comparison sin because I myself have been guilty of it as of late. As a mom who’s currently parenting a toddler, balancing a work at home life with running a household and remodeling a new home and large piece of land all at the same time, there are many days I’m tempted to scroll through and see how all the other parents are doing it all.
As so brilliantly quoted by Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of all joy”, I haven’t found this to be truer than when comparing my own tribe to other's support systems now that I’m a mom. The scariest part? I didn’t even consciously realize I was doing it.
At the age of eight I played day in and day out with my three year old sister. Cradling our cloth babies as our own mom cleaned our home to the sounds of Gloria Estefan livening up our space, I pictured that mine and my sister’s adult life wouldn’t look much different. With our mom as grandma to our bouncing babies, this time not of the cloth version, but our own real life flesh and blood. Cradling them the way she did us, living life alongside us cooking meals in the kitchen, watching the babies when we needed a break for ourselves or with our husbands, and just feeling the joy I felt in my early days of childhood.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it’s all played out. With recurring cancer diagnoses, chronic pain and severe COPD, my mother is understandably not able to be the grandmother I dreamed her to be. In addition, an on and off strained relationship with my sister, that is thankfully beautiful at the moment, has kept us from raising our babies side by side.
As a grown, Christian woman, I know life isn’t at all how we picture it to be as a child, and God’s plan is working in it all, and it wasn’t until I got glimpses into stranger’s lives at breakneck speed (enter: Facebook and Instagram) that I subconsciously started falling into the comparison trap. And because I’m conscious of not falling into the comparison trap as a working mom (I support other working women! My talents are my own and God has his own timeline for me!) I left my mind and heart open to it happening in other areas of my life.
I found myself becoming angry at my situation when I’d see moms that had much more help or more time freedom, which wasn’t and isn’t fair to anyone involved. It’s just the way it is. Once I realized what was happening, I spoke to my husband and we agreed that any pages I was following that made me feel this way needed to be unfollowed for a while. I took a social media break and prayed for acceptance and peace with all the blessings and things I do have, because I am fortunate to have so many.
I’m learning day by day that it is about perspective, a fact my evolved husband so graciously reminds me of often. It’s cultivating a grateful heart. That’s the key to taming the joy thief. We have SO much to be joyful about and while it may not always look like you thought it would as a small child, reality can be so much better if we allow ourselves the quiet space to reflect, accept, give thanks and enjoy what IS within our grasp.
May your tribe be a blessing to you, whatever it looks like, and may you recognize it for it being just that, a blessing. To have someone, anyone, in our corner, flesh and blood family, or the family we’ve created along the way, cheering us on, lifting us up, or giving us those moments of quiet peace we may need.