Comparison Parenting & Mismatched Socks
Confession: I currently hate social media.
Okay, maybe it’s more of a love/hate situation, but still. Social media and I are in a fight. Yes, it’s amazing for keeping in touch with friends and family across the globe and yes, it’s great for making new friends. Yes, it’s the platform upon which this blog is actually reaching people and yes, it’s where I can crowdsource if need be, but I also am having a hard time with it lately. Firstly, I can’t seem to put my phone down and I hate that. Secondly because I find myself constantly bombarded with the amazingness that is other people’s lives while I’m sitting in my living room at 12PM on a Tuesday, wearing the same clothes I slept in, unshowered and feeding my kids PB&J for lunch (again) while they watch TV. TRUTH. Now, granted that is not every day, but on the days that are particularly challenging, I find Facebook to be the actual worst.
I hate the way it makes me feel. As a wife, as a mom, as a Christian, as a friend and as a blogger, I never feel that I’m good enough when I’m scrolling, scrolling, scrolling through everyone else’s accomplishments and highlights. On social media, I see kids that are bathed, dressed and are wearing MATCHING SOCKS while mine are wearing stained clothes that they’ve already worn once this week. On social media, I see wives are dolled up for date night, able to spend money on amazing dinners at fancy restaurants with their dapper looking husbands while my guy and I are wrapped up in a blanket eating Ben and Jerry’s and watching Fixer Upper (#alltheshiplap). On social media, there’s a perfectly staged picture of an open bible, a journal and a bouquet of flowers while mine is gathering dust on the windowsill (relax, relax - I use my bible app on my phone).
My point is not that those things are bad - they’re actually amazing; I’m so proud of people who go out on date nights and have their kids dressed so cute, and actually read their bible regularly. It’s MY attitude about them that is the problem. When I see these pictures, why do I automatically assume that this is their normal, everyday life? And even if it is, why don’t I feel compelled to celebrate their successes? Why do I automatically feel jealous or insecure about my own life? My own kids? My own marriage? Because I know that when I take a step back and look at my own life, I love it.
I LOVE IT.
I love that my Wyatt prefers to wear mismatched socks and shoes. I love watching TV with my guy just as much as I love going out on a date. I love that I don’t feel pressured by God to read the bible in a certain way or at a certain time every day - He’s more concerned with my heart than my habits. So what am I going to do about those thoughts of comparison that put me in a funk whenever I see that people have nice things or go on fun adventures?
I need to realize that:
- I am a part of the problem too. I’m guilty of taking selfies when I manage to put lipstick on and photographing my meal when the husband takes me out on a date night. I’m guilty of highlighting the good things in my life on social media and trying to subtly disguise the things that are less than appealing (like my kitchen floor, toddler tantrums and behind my toilet). I’m guilty of celebrating anniversaries but not arguments, honor roll but not attitude problems. I need to remember that Facebook is a public bulletin board of all the good things that are happening in our lives and that “behind the scenes” in the lives of my friends are actually very similar to what’s going on in my own life.
- I need to take action. I need to lean into my insecurity by doing the opposite of what I feel. Show your insecurities who is boss by doing the opposite of what you naturally feel inclined to do. Tell someone that they look beautiful even if you feel like a troll (speaking for myself, here). Congratulate someone on an accomplishment even if you’re still in your pajama’s at noon. Bring someone a coffee even though you feel sloth-like. Send someone flowers when your day is actually one that could use brightening. Take the focus off of yourself, and celebrate someone else.
- I need to stop the scrolling. Theres a certain amount of connectivity that is beneficial, but I think we all know when we’ve reached the tipping point. And what do I usually do when I reach that point? I continue to scroll, and scroll and scroll. I need to be better at paying attention to the tipping point, and actually put my phone down and do something creative, fun or active instead. One of the ways that I’m hoping to do this is by having blocks of time when I’m going to allow myself to be on the phone, and certain times when it will stay in my room, in my bag or even at home if we’re going out (*GASP*). After all, there’s nothing so pressing in my life that can’t wait a couple of hours.
Obviously this isn’t a cure-all. This isn’t something that is going to automatically fix all of my attitude problems and insecurities, but it’s a start. I’m hoping to change mindsets that could become toxic and habits that aren’t helpful. I’m hoping to take the focus off of myself and fix it elsewhere. I’m hoping to love well and with more intentionality than before because I want better things for my family and friends, strangers and myself, people who are like me and people who aren’t.