Mama, Don’t Opt Out: When We Compare Our Insides to Everyone Else’s Outsides

Everyone loves to tell young moms, “The days are long, but the years are short!” I believe that statement to be true, but I also know that this mothering generation is fighting a new battle against the ever powerful Social Media Monster.

With every mom now stuck in the crushing cycle of comparing their insides to everyone else’s outsides, we’ve created some kind of online mothering game. There’s the mom that still looks amazing in her bikini swimsuit, while you sit behind the computer screen scrolling through her pictures with your small bowl bag of chips. Then there’s the mom that just posted about the kid-free, all-inclusive vacation her husband just surprised her with. Meanwhile, you look over at the clock for the 100th time, wondering if your husband will make it home for dinner for the first time all week. Or how about that mom that posts a selfie in the car line with her perfect hair and ridiculously white teeth just as you remember you still haven’t replaced your toothbrush that the toddler used on the dog, and that you slipped on your husband’s pajama pants this morning because you were running late, again

I never want to wish away these early years with my kiddos, but let’s be real- some days feel so long that there is no amount of Diet Coke or coffee (or pick your poison) that can protect us from hitting that mothering wall. You know the wall I’m talking about… when it’s 6pm and dad finally walks in the door, but before he can drop his keys on the table, you throw your hands in the air and confidently say, “I’m done!” We don’t post those horrific real moments on social media, but I’m willing to bet we’ve all been there. Unless you have been blessed with a nanny. Or you only have one child, and she’s 2 weeks old. 

Mommy shaming is at a record high, and most of us are doing it to ourselves.

Let’s start being real about how complicated mothering has become because of our screens. Let’s challenge and encourage each other to put down our windows into other mama’s lives, and start living our own! Let’s stop sitting on the sidelines, and get back to the intentional mothering we were created for. Front and center, in the eyes of our children.

Don’t opt out because you’re afraid you can’t measure up to whatever Facebook puts in front of you.  Give yourself permission to have some hard days, but then find some creative ways to thrive in the season you are in. When we find ways to fill ourselves up, we are able to pour into each of the souls we are responsible for and avoid the impending exhaustion. The trick is finding out what fills you up, if you don’t already know!

For me, it’s two things.

Dating my kids. When I find myself just trying to survive the day, I know it’s time for some one-on-one action. I pick my favorite one kid and ask them to plan a special adventure for the two of us.  My littles often say something simple and affordable, like ice-cream. My bigs have figured out how to manipulate the system and have started choosing things like Teppanyaki restaurants and sky-diving adventures. Sometimes the date ends up being mama’s choice. Cause I’m the mom, and I can do that. And because well, the budget. During our one-on-one time, I try to casually ask how things are going from their perspective.

What are some things that mommy could do better? What are some things that you have loved doing with mommy? Study their answers and let their words be your measuring tool, not social media. You will win every time. 

Girl’s night. When I start counting by two’s and listing the state’s in alphabetical order as I fold laundry throw clothes in piles that get moved from couch to couch, I know it’s time for some adult interaction. My small humans are great, but there is something rejuvenating about having an uninterrupted conversation with someone over the age of 20 while sharing an endless basket of chips and salsa. (There are those chips again. I bet the mom in the bikini would tell me to stop eating the darn chips.) Whether we spend the entire evening talking about our kids, the new show we are secretly binge-watching, or our current frustrations, or our future plans…I always walk away a better mom. A mama who has been heard. 

What brings you joy? Not just momentary happiness, but true, authentic joy? Next time you find yourself wanting to opt out of mothering, go do that thing. Don’t turn to social media to find your worth as a mama, it’s not there. It’s actually already right where you are, just looking for a unique way to come out. Be you, mama. 

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