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The Worst Habit for Moms & Why It's a Trap

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

woman with head down, appearing sad, the worst habit for moms and why its a trap

This is strictly my opinion based on my personal struggles, but I feel that the absolute worst habit you can have as a mom, or just a woman in general, is - drumroll please....

Comparison. And let's be honest, as a female in our society, it's almost a subconscious and automatic thing to compare ourselves to others in a way that downplays ourselves.

To start, it's important that we all remember that what we see on social media is a highlight reel. I know we've all heard this, but really take a second to consider it. The majority of people sharing their lives on social media are sharing the good, the pretty, the positive, all while hiding the struggle, the frustration, and the fails. We sit in the midst of all our own struggles and fails and compare those to the highlight reel of others, then question why we can't "be like them."

Photo of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West with their baby perfectly posed next to a photo of a family trying to pose and struggling
Social Media vs. Real Life

I was the mama seeing the social media mamas and questioning “why can’t I just be like

that?” I felt like every part of me was a failure. My clothing didn’t fit like that mom’s, I didn’t own anything nice. I looked sloppy in my pre-mom clothes. My hair was lucky to be fully brushed each day, primarily was in a bun or a braid just to keep it out of the way, and 90% of the time smelled like old milk and spit up. My makeup was minimal and halfway rubbed off from being tired and constantly sweating. Breastfeeding, a baby always on me, a diaper bag, a car seat - everything was heavy. And I’d see these other moms on social media and tv, with their spectacular appearance, looking completely lively and energetic and relaxed and not frazzled at all. And I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get myself on their level…

The big secret is as simple as this: we either are like them and just don't get to see their imperfect moments OR we aren't like them because we're living a real life and making real memories. What does this mean? I'll let Jen Flint explain it, because I can't think of any better way to put it than she did in her Facebook post. Jen, a wife and mama, made this post on her personal profile just to document and discuss what she witnessed, not knowing that it was going to spark a viral sharing frenzy among mamas all desperately trying to find ways to feel okay about the job we are doing as women and parents. Her post has been shared almost 200k times, garnered over 200k likes, and has over 2000 comments. You can view the original post here.

Yesterday while at the pool I watched a young Mama and her little daughter enter the pool area dressed in very nice coordinating swimming suits. The mom, with her perfect loose curls tied up in a coordinating scarf, spent the first few minutes talking loudly on her phone to a friend while her daughter stood waiting to get into the pool. Mom ended the phone call and proceeded to spread out pool toys and sunscreen on a matching towel. Then after finding just the right angle and the right light, Mama pulled out her tripod and took a few selfies with her daughter. Little One asked to get in the pool. Mama said wait and then posed her daughter in front the pool, then going in to the pool and then coming back out of the pool. Little one smiled big and said "cheese" like she'd done it a million times. Then Mama told her she could play. Little One walked in and swam around for a couple of minutes. Mama called a friend on her phone and began another conversation while Little One politely and repeatedly asked "Mama, can you come in the water with me, please?" She was ignored. "Mama, come play with me?" she asked 4 more times. Mama glanced over at her but never got off the phone. After 10 minutes Mama ended her call, collected the sunscreen that was never applied, the water toys that never touched the water, and then her daughter and left the pool.
I sat there thinking about what I'd witnessed for awhile afterwards. I imagined the photos she took being perfectly edited and posted to social media with a caption like "Pool time with my girly! #Makingmemories".
Somewhere another Mama is going to be at home with her children, the house a mess from their play, her hair unruly from a day of mothering and her clothes dirty with spit up or peanut butter. She's going to be tired because she's spent her day cooking, caring, cleaning and playing with her children. She's going to look at that photo and she is going to compare herself to the perfect Mama at the pool. The Adversary is going to whisper into her ear "you aren't good enough... You don't look like that Mama at the pool... You don't have money to buy expensive swimming suits like that and you don't have time to make memories like she is" and that young Mama is going to believe it. She's going to feel like a failure. Ugh!! She'll never know that how she spent her time that day was so much better in her children's eyes than that "perfect Mama" at the pool.
What we see on Social Media isn't always real. Sometimes and often it's a complete set-up. It's staged and filtered and it's counterfeit.
Sometimes we do see absolutely real photos of vacations and beautiful homes and freshly done hair but it's only ONE moment. It's the very best moment out of a whole day spent much like our own. Working, cleaning, and messes...
Mamas, don't compare yourself. You ARE enough! You are amazing and the very best part is that you are REAL! Your dirty shirt and your messy house and your happy children are real and they are proof that you are doing it right!

In an interview with Good Morning America, Jen clarified that she was not aware of what the rest of Pool Mom's day looked like or what was going on personally for her, nor was her post about shaming that mom but more so to just bring attention to the fact that what is plastered across social media is not always what is real life. Jen shared her observation to reach those struggling moms who have started to doubt themselves and feel like quitting so they will know that they are good enough even when they aren't perfect.

Theodore Roosevelt Quote: Comparison is the thief of joy.

This hit me right where I needed it, not only because I used to be that struggling mama but because I am now striving to be open and honest in all my communication. If you see me in person and you see me on Facebook, I want you to get the exact same person - with all my flaws and talents and oddities and accomplishments equally in view. I want to be the REAL mom that helps other moms feel seen, heard, and comfortable in all of their different pieces. I no longer question why I’m not like the next mother. I appreciate that every parent does things differently and in a way that works best for them, their child, and their family. I know that comparing myself to the falsities of a social media highlight reel holds no weight on my ability to be a good mother to my son. When you realize that 90% of upward comparisons are actually false comparisons and the 0ther 10% don't matter because no 2 mamas or babies are the same, it makes it easier to see the real beauty in yourself.

Because at the end of the day, you (exactly as you are) are amazing in your child's eyes.

You, exactly as you are, are good enough.

Just exactly you.

For more: Check out the Mom: In-Process Podcast by Amy Cothren. Episode 25, You Are Enough takes a deep dive into this statement and how you can believe you are enough as you are while not allowing yourself to become stagnant.

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