articles / Family life

Don’t measure your mothering with my ruler

I can’t find biblical evidence of this, but I’m pretty sure one of the curses for our sin in the Garden of Eden is comparison. Maybe it’s implied since the reason Eve took the fruit to begin with was to be like God. I don’t know…it’s just a theory.

As women, regardless of who we are or how successful we feel in a certain area, there’s always that nagging thought of comparison in the back of our mind. If we let it, comparison will ruin our mood, our self-image, and our effectiveness.

We are hard enough on ourselves as it is without comparing our shortcomings or victories with other women. As a mother (especially since I homeschool) I find myself pulling out my “ruler” on a daily basis to see how I measure up to my own list of standards. I have a total separate ruler for me to pull out and see how I measure up to other moms around me. I try to keep it hidden because most of the time I’ve got myself convinced that I don’t care what other moms are doing. However, sometimes it sneaks out and I find myself not measuring up.

You know exactly what I’m talking about don’t you?

You have a mental list of what you think it means to be a successful wife, mom, person, ect…You constantly refer to it or you think about it when you realize you’re not following through with something on your list.

Some of the things that have been on my ruler:

  1. Spending quality individual time with my children that doesn’t involve TV.
  2. My kids only watching one hour of TV a day because I orchestrate other daily activities.
  3. Cooking only homemade quality meals for my family.
  4. Spending time and energy being frugal and avoiding unnecessary spending.
  5. Using only cloth diapers because it saves my family money.
  6. Being the image of patience and never losing my temper or raising my voice.
  7. Read to my kids every single day.
  8. Keeping the house spotless clean all the time, including my bedroom.

I take that back…I don’t have a ruler…it’s more like a yard stick — the standards I’ve set are high. Some of these things I’ve borrowed from other women’s rulers and some of them I’ve just put in place myself.

It’s silly to spend my time comparing myself to this list. I will NEVER measure up 100% of the time to everything on this list. I will however drive myself crazy trying. I have decided though in recent months to modify this list to something attainable.

Here’s my modified list:

  1. Spending quality individual time with my children that doesn’t involve TV.
  2. My kids only watching one hour of TV a day because I orchestrate other daily activities.  My kids spending more time reading, playing, and schooling more than watching TV.
  3. Cooking only homemade quality meals for my family [and giving myself a break every now and then to eat frozen pizza].
  4. Spending time and energy being frugal and avoiding unnecessary spending [while allowing myself a frivolous purchase from time to time].
  5.  [Primarily] using only cloth diapers because it saves my family money [but understanding that sometimes its OK for convenience to win].
  6. Being more the image of patient and never  [doing my best to avoid] losing my temper or raising my voice [and giving myself grace when I do].
  7. Read to my kids every single day.
  8. Keeping the house spotless clean all the time  “child-lived in” presentable, including my bedroom closing my bedroom door when necessary. [Hiding laundry in the baby’s room or my room may also be necessary].

These are standards I can try to keep up with. Honestly, I encourage you to write your own “list of standards” and then go through and cross out/add in whatever you want to make things easier. I already feel my anxiety level dropping. Of course, sitting behind my computer and ignoring the four 10 things I could be doing right now and talking about me rewriting my list of standards is easy. I’m not looking at Facebook or talking to another mom.

You see, as soon as I get around another woman it’s easy for me to pull that list back out and reconsider what should be on my list. “She’s doing what?! I’m not doing that. I should be though…geez, why is that not on my list?!” Don’t laugh, you may not write about it or consciously think about it, but you do it.

I have a friend of mine that came by last week. My house was clean…not spotless, but it was much better than “presentable”. She’s a veteran mom compared to me (one of her children is my age). Before she left she pointed out to her husband, “Wow, she actually irons!” It was an off-hand comment, probably meant *mostly* as a joke. However, I quickly pointed out that I don’t typically iron, I only had my ironing board out because it gives me a place to stack my folded clean clothes before I put them away.

Something as minor as my ironing board being out could have been enough to warrant pulling out the ruler. I could have responded with, “Oh yes…(insert snooty voice) I have to iron everything or I simply can’t stand to wear it. I also crease everyone’s pants in the proper way to put on the hanger and have a folding board to ensure proper creases on our shirts.”

That makes me feel bad just reading it..and I made it up!

So here’s the deal…we just need to stop.

Stop pulling out our rulers of ridiculous standards to measure ourselves by and modify the standards we have to something more attainable.

Stop using other mom’s rulers to measure ourselves with. We’re all different. Our strengths, weaknesses, and preferences are different. I’m sure there were a few moms that cringed at the looseness of my list. Some cringed at my strict self-standards.

Stop insinuating that your ruler is THE ruler and anyone not following those standards is wrong. Realize that while you may not intentionally do it, it may accidentally happen and try to avoid it (my ironing board).

Take a breather. Give yourself a break. As a matter of fact, if it makes you feel better, just break the ruler and make it up as you go.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s