Despite Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to the contrary, I still have a bad habit of comparing myself to others. With age and the small gains in wisdom it brings I manage to do it less and less, but it still happens.
As I supervised my children and a few of their friends at a recent church activity, I overheard a mom talking excitedly about her pregnancy. She smiled and brought me into the conversation, letting me offer her my congratulations. I then went back to helping the kids locate beads, hole punches, and the ever elusive scissors.
She continued to talk about the excitement surrounding this pregnancy (her third) and how she and her husband had a large number of business trips planned over the next month. Not only is this woman a great mom, but she’s also a successful and sought after scientist who travels the world. She cares for an ailing family member. She is heavily involved in church life. She is always smiling.
She does a lot in this life, and I admire her. She is that mom.
In short, she is absolutely nothing like me.
She has a million plates in the air and they all seem to be spinning flawlessly. She admits that her life gets crazy, but as I said, she’s always smiling.
I, on the other hand, have about two to three plates in the air on any given day, and half the time I’m dropping at least one of them and cursing or needing to go hide in the bathroom for three minutes so I can get myself together.
My biggest plate is the parenting/homeschooling one. And, for me, it’s big. We should really call it a platter. It’s heavy and slippery and sometimes awkward. It takes up a lot of my emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. Some days, it takes up all of my energy. It’s joyful work. Emphasis on work.
We all know that homeschooling is hard and that it can be demanding. A good homeschooling day that ends with happy children and a love of learning is a thing to be celebrated, and yet so often I hear a deeply self-critical voice asking, “What else are you doing?”
Do you know this voice?
“So and so has a successful business and still manages to homeschool. Why can’t you make any money?”
“So and so has far more children and responsibilities than you, and yet she is always pulled together and still plans exciting date nights with her husband. Wasn’t your last date before your kids were born?”
And, my personal favorite:
“Spaghetti for dinner, again? Haven’t you heard of the homeschool mom who writes the famous cookbooks and has her own television show?”
It is the voice of our cultural obsession to do more, be more, have more, and show more. The voice urging us to keep up and not miss out.
That voice can tear us down in our spirits. Saddest of all, that voice can lead to genuine self hatred and self alienation. In trying to be like other people, you might just forget who you were in the first place.
But the best way to talk back to that voice is to start accepting yourself just as you are. If you are a sparrow, be a sparrow. If you are a finch, be a finch. Stop apologizing for how God made you. That voice hates it when you stop apologizing.
I am not that mom. I am not an impressive entrepreneur, a world traveler, or a CEO. I’m not a great multitasker, and I don’t have an endless supply of energy. God bless that mom. Good for her for being her.
I am just myself. I’m a dedicated and loving but flawed mother and homeschooler. I’m a wife. I volunteer as I’m able to one cause that is close to my heart. Just one. I make time for a couple of meaningful hobbies, one of which is writing. I think deeply about things, especially how I raise and educate my children. I’m an introvert.
Homeschooling is a lot, and maybe, just maybe, I’m doing enough for my unique family and circumstances at this chapter of our lives. The last time I checked, my children and husband did not want that mom to hug them and listen to them. They just wanted me.
Maybe I’m enough.
And maybe you’re enough, too.