It’s true that comparison is the thief of joy. It is so easy, especially in today’s society, to see what others have and immediately become discontent with what YOU have. It struck me recently, however, what else comparison steals from me: grace.
This works both ways. Comparison steals my ability to give grace to others, but it also steals my ability to give myself grace.
When I’m having a bad day, I often berate myself for not being more joyful or grateful.
Because others may “have it so much worse”. The reality is that much of the time, my problems are “first-world problems”. Too much laundry, not enough time for myself, not enough money for “that one thing”, and maybe a sick kid or two. (Because really, how often does just one of your kids get sick?! I’m living in a petri dish over here…)
Letting the little things pile up and get to me might not be particularly productive, but neither is berating myself for having a bad day.
When I compare myself to certain others, who very well might “have it worse” than I do, I rob myself of even being human.
Yes, it is always good to have a perspective check. Absolutely, we should recognize our blessings and be grateful. But mama, you are not perfect, and neither am I. We all have bad days, and comparing ourselves to others and heaping a scoop of guilt onto our own pile is counter-productive.
Along similar lines, I’ve noticed that I can be a little stingy with offering grace when I’m going through a significant trial, and I hear someone discussing (what I consider to be) a much smaller trial. Listen mama, there has to be enough room for ALL of our struggles at this table of motherhood. We are so much stronger together.
There must be room for both the mama who longs to be pregnant, and the mama who is struggling to raise the little ones she already has. There must be room for both the mama who works outside the home and aches for more time with her children, and the mama who stays home and craves adult conversation. And there must be room for both the mama whose babies are young and needy, and the mama who is agonizingly preparing to send her child out into the world for the first time.
I know grace is not always easy.
Sometimes your burden feels heavy, and it’s hard to hear about someone else’s struggle. Entertaining example: several months ago I was packing up a house to move across the country. With 3 kids and 3 dogs. By myself. While my husband went on a fishing trip. (Don’t worry, we made up).
At the time, I lamented to a (very dear) friend that I didn’t know how I could possibly do everything by myself. She laughed and said, “That’s like how [her husband] forgot to put an overnight diaper on the baby last night!”
I literally had no idea what to say. I mean, I hate changing crib sheets as much as the next guy, but…that did not seem the same. I’ll be honest: we didn’t talk again for a few days, but we did talk again. Because: grace. We all need it.
Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.
It is hard, all-consuming, beautiful work. I refuse to make it any harder, for myself or another mama that crosses my path. We need each other. I choose grace. You know that friend who turns your day around when she shows up with coffee? Or volunteers to take your children out one Saturday? She makes you feel that you’re not alone in the world. Be that friend. I will be, too.
Set your table, see who shows up, and invite them to stay. And remember, you are welcome at my table any time.