Monday, March 18, 2013

Advice for Moms, part 2: Heartwork

This time around I'm not talking about cleaning products or candles or really anything that can be bought.  My advice is simple and directed toward your heart and mind.  My world can be spic and span, organized and sanitized, but if my heart is overgrown with unwelcome vines, everything is wrought with burden and I quickly collapse under the weight.

The weight of comparison.  

To list every single way we compare ourselves would take months.  The list would be long and, frankly, ugly.  Clothes.  Body size.  Homes.  Cars.  Eating habits.  Budgets.  Nail color.  Ability to handle pressure.  Ability to take great photos.  Being photogenic.  Capacity for kids.  Free time or lack thereof.  The list goes on and we haven't even talked about our children.  Are they trendy enough? Are they as obedient as they "should" be?  How well are they reflecting my parenting skills?

Have you ever found yourself comparing the "worst you" to the "best ______" (insert a friend's name).  I've noticed that on particularly hard days - yelling, impatience, mess & chaos, hours of TV babysitter, and zero productivity - I picture one of my best friends in her home, making homemade breads and jams, while fully-showered and dressed, her children reciting Latin, laundry neatly arranged in drawers, classical music in the background, and spending an hour alone with Jesus because she woke up at 4am.  No joke.  I really compare the worst of me to the best of her and it makes me feel so damn inadequate.  Stay with me for a moment and press deeper into this thought because it most certainly doesn't end there.  

That inadequacy quickly turns into the shame that I'm just not a good mother and therefore, must not be qualified to be great in my own home and with my own family.  So I disengage and stop trying.  As a first-born, perfectionisty-type A, I find that it's better to not attempt something I might fail.  Stick to the things that can't be failed - Facebook, Pinterest, watching TV, shopping for clothes or running all over town but not really doing anything.  Those things in horrifying (not healthy) quantities and I suddenly realize that I'm not leading my life and I start to see the fruit of an untended garden.

So I guess this advice all boils down to this, taken from Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead written by Brene Brown.

"When it comes to parenting, the practice of framing mothers and fathers as good or bad is both rampant and corrosive - it turns parenting into a shame minefield.  The real questions for parents should be: "Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?"

Let's take measure of how much comparison dictates the way we're functioning in our role as mom and wife.  Tend to your gardens, mama.  Press into the difficult and uncomfortable.  Lean into the challenge and the unpredictable and the risk of failure. Don't be afraid of the unknown - it might just be your greatest success.

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