Other Moms Make Me Feel Bad About Myself
by Mary Follin and Kristi Crosson
Read More ASK MOM advice in Fredericksburg Parent & Family Magazine
THE PROBLEM: Everybody else seems to be better at “momming” than me. They all volunteer at the school, their kids always look so clean and neat, and when the pandemic hit, somehow, they all figured out how to do the online school thing. I know, I know, it’s not EVERYBODY. But a lot of them. One thing I liked about the pandemic was that I didn’t have to talk to other parents. Every time I do, I walk away thinking they were insinuating something about me. I’ve got 3 kids and 2 jobs, and my husband is out of work. I hate that I can’t create an ideal childhood for my kids, because I love them so much. But everybody else seems to manage. What’s wrong with me?
MARY SAYS: It sounds as though you’re overwhelmed with life issues that have reached a critical mass. Your energy, your relationships, and your self-confidence have been compromised by a global pandemic, and unfortunately, a planetary disaster doesn’t mean other problems will wait until you have more bandwidth to deal with them. (Wouldn’t that have been nice?)
If it helps, everybody feels the way you do in some area of their lives, especially during the past year.
In fact, all those parents you’re ‘not measuring up to’? They’re using their own yardsticks to identify their shortcomings. You just can’t see it because most people have social masks as real as the ones they’ve strapped to their faces. You’d be surprised how many parents feel insecure and lacking in self-confidence right now, even the ones who seem to have it ‘all figured out.’
In times of crisis, everything looms larger, not unlike a terrifying dream when you’re in it versus after you wake up. Parents are slogging their way through a real-life nightmare due to the lingering effects of the pandemic on their children (and on themselves), not to mention all the other issues that cropped up over the past 18 months. If it makes you feel better to know you’re not alone, you’re definitely not alone.
But you won’t believe that until you ask. Or share. By withdrawing from other parents, you’re cutting off a tremendous source of support and encouragement. Many of those ‘perfect’ parents have been through job loss, financial worries, and all-around overwhelm, too. Even if they don’t relate specifically to your story, they have their own.
Once you get used to opening up, you’ll be amazed by how kind people are. Kindness may not be a cure, but it helps—a lot. You might also discover that the only person judging you harshly is you. Go easy on yourself. You’re dealing with trying times, and you’re doing the best you can. Your love for your children is clearly a beacon for you; perhaps it’s time to turn that light inward and shine some of that good stuff on yourself.
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KRISTY SAYS: All moms have struggles and challenges. Unfortunately, our social media society only shows one side of the story. The pretty side. We see the clean kitchen, the makeup, and cute outfits. We see the mom with a smile on her face that makes us feel inferior because we’re struggling. What we don’t see are the piles of laundry, mountains of debt, and dishes all over the counter. We don’t see the arguments other moms have with their husbands or kids. We don’t see their visits to the therapist or the anti-anxiety medication on the nightstand. Because just like you, other moms are trying to hold it together themselves.
When it feels like we’re failing at everything we do, for some reason, we equate that with failing as a mom. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You can’t do everything, but you can do the things that matter most. You’re working two jobs to ensure your children have a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, and clothes to wear. That’s the season you are in. Someday, your husband will have a new job. You’ll be able to devote more time to volunteering at school and putting on makeup if that’s what you want to do. But right now, you’re doing the most valuable thing you can for your family.
You’re being an amazing mom.
It sounds to me like you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. The other moms aren’t intentionally trying to make you feel bad. It’s your perception of them and your situation. But you don’t see what’s going on ‘off’ of Instagram and Facebook.
My advice? Don’t worry about what they think or what they do. Show up, say hello, pick your child up from school. Do it with pride, knowing you’re doing everything you can for YOUR children.
My youngest was born when my oldest was in kindergarten. My mom helped me out by taking him to school for a while, but then it was my turn. I needed to figure out how to get a newborn and a 2-year-old up early so we could take my 5-year-old to school. My oldest is not a morning person and struggles to get up, no matter what time he goes to sleep. Because of our morning struggles, he was late for school almost every single day. I’m not exaggerating. I tried everything to get him up and going on time. I tried everything to get him to sleep at night.
I felt like a failure.
When he was late, I had to lug the baby, the 2-year-old, and my tardy pupil inside to check in at the office. It was truly a walk of shame. I imagined all the bad things the office ladies were surely thinking about me. I imagined them judging me, even though they were always kind and helpful. The truth is, even if they did judge me, I was doing my best in that season.
Don’t worry about creating an ideal childhood for your children. Do the best you can each day. When your children look back, they won’t remember whether you volunteered in school or not. They’ll know you were there for them when they needed you most. They’ll know you loved them and would do anything to ensure their needs were met. And they’ll know you always did your best
ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising small children (Kristi). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in!
If you have a question for Mary and Kristi, we’d love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more ASK MOM advice.
ABOUT MARY FOLLIN
Mary is the author of TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ and ETHYR, winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award and the Gertrude Warner Book Award. She is mom to two grown sons and enjoys sharing her more seasoned perspective with parents of younger children.
ABOUT Erika Guerrero
Erika Guerrero is a freelance hair and makeup artist, Erika K. Beauty, single-mama to one amazing boy, and author of She’s Not Shaken, a blog offering hope and encouragement to women in all walks of life.
ABOUT Suzanne Johnson
Suzanne Johnson, mother of five children and grandmother of six, is an illustrator, book cover designer, and author of the Realms of Edenocht series.
Gertrude Warner Book Award
Moonbeam Children's Book Award
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