Instead of just comparing myself to moms I actually know… I can compare myself to moms all over the world through the little device I keep in my pocket. It’s almost impossible to escape.
The worst part is 90% of what we see isn’t even real. Its all carefully framed, edited and tweaked to feed the double-tap addiction. How can I possibly keep up with that?
It’s almost as fantastical as the world of Harry Potter. Yet there I was, feeling mom guilt and trying to keep up with a fiction.
So… how did I get rid of mom guilt (or at least the part caused by comparing myself with social media fiction)?
Many people would say “get off social media”, and while taking breaks can definitely be helpful I found a better way.
WE ARE ALL “THE MOM NEXTDOOR”
When I was brainstorming what I should call this blog I wanted something that everyone could relate to and then give it a twist. I settled on The Mom Nextdoor (TMN).
We all know the mom next door, the one who seems to have it all together. She always looks immaculate, she’s a health nut, a master DIY-er, a member of the PTA, and her kids are perfect angels and never do anything wrong.
You know THAT mom, right?
Maybe she lives down the street or maybe you follow her on Instagram, either way, whenever you see her or scroll past her latest post you can’t help but wonder “why can’t I be more like her? my poor family is stuck with me and I’ve been wearing these yoga pants for 3 days.“
But I’ve found that’s not the whole story. It’s not that these moms aren’t totally amazing! They are! But usually we’re only glimpsing the highlight reel. Worse than that, it’s a nipped and tucked highlight reel.
Pull back the curtain and imagine, for a second, all the things you don’t see.
Maybe she’s fighting a battle with chronic depression.
Maybe she struggles with saying yes to everything and feels stretched completely thin.
Maybe you miss all the days she doesn’t have time to get ready and she wears a top knot and no makeup (totally me right now as I write this post!).
Maybe she’s feeling lonely and could use a mom friend.
She’s the mom next door. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. While you’re busily judging her and her life to be perfect, she and I are sitting here, looking at you, thinking the exact same thing.
We’re all her, the mom next door. I’m her. You’re her. Every mom you’ve ever met is her! Totally rocking at some things and totally not at others.
Yet here I/you/we are, sitting there hating each other (just a bit) because all the things “they” are great at, are just a reminder of everything we’re failing at.
Stop sitting there. Stop comparing. Stop putting “her/me/them” up on a pedestal, no one likes being up there!
GET RID OF MOM GUILT BY BEING A FRIEND.
When we moved to Arizona it was a forced fresh start for me. My whole family still lives in Utah and, while my husband is from here, I didn’t know anybody.
Our first week at church I look around at all the moms and their adorable families thinking all of them had life together. And here I was, the grad student wife living with her in-laws and the toddler who refused to let me comb her hair. How was I ever going to find a place with them?
And there was this one mom, guys she was the coolest! So cute, with fun and popular kids, always ready to serve and seriously perfect in every way. She was definitely the mom next door.
But the coolest thing about her was she decided she wanted to be my friend. It started out slow with invitations to go on walks and playdates for our kids. Then she invited me to a ladies bunco night and we stayed out til 1:00 AM just talking.
As our friendship grew she started sharing things that weighed on her heart. Things she felt like she was failing at. True struggles. We’ve laughed and cried together.
Turns out she’s not the mom next door. She’s just a mom and a good friend, doing her best every day. Still totally awesome! But not perfect. Just like me.
Mom guilt gone.
GET RID OF MOM GUILT BY SHARING YOUR STORY.
My perception of addiction recovery programs comes mainly from watching various TV shows. Often they’re portrayed as a safe space for members to “share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover.”
(That’s straight from the AA mission statement so I guess the TV shows get it mostly right.)
Motherhood is our common joy and our common problem. No matter how much we love our kids, we still have bad days and struggle to feel like we’re enough.
If sharing personal stories of a shared experience can help addicts overcome, doesn’t it stand to reason it can do the same thing for moms?
I think so, in fact it’s a basic founding principle of TMN and we devote a whole section of the blog to featuring awesome moms and share their stories.
You’ve been through things I will go through someday and I’ve battled with things you’re struggling with right now. We can help each other.
“One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.” – Brene Brown