If you're breathing, you've probably dealt with comparison! Laugh along with Becky and Sarah as they unpack how comparison can creep in--with practical tips on how to avoid the comparison trap.
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Form a deeper connection with God, more empathic connection with other Moms, and more intentional connection with your child.
Welcome to the Connected Mom Podcast, where we have conversations about connecting more deeply with God, more empathically with other moms, and more intentionally with your child. I'm Becky Harling, your host, and I have with me today my amazing co host, Sarah Wildman.
Welcome in, Becky.
Hey, Sarah. This is so much fun to do this podcast together and help moms out there connect. And, uh, you and I, we have a lot of fun together. And it's a joy.
It sure is. Hopefully, listeners have been able to find some, um, help and some of the podcasts we've already recorded. But we are trying to just have a range of topics that might be interesting to moms. Mainly, that's me. I mean, I'm in this, uh, world of raising a six and an eight year old. I have two boys, so I guess I'm a boy mom. I'm excited to talk about this topic of comparison. Comparison. So, Becky, uh, you had proposed. Hey, what do you think about talking about comparison? And to be honest, I took a deep breath and thought, okay, let's do it. Because we all do it as moms, right? Yes, we all do it.
And it starts I think I've said this on a free. It's like all these moms, they start at the very beginning, right? Even from pregnancy prepregnancy the comparison. But motherhood really puts a spotlight on it.
It really does. Sarah, I was talking with one of my daughters, actually, on the phone, and I was saying that we were going to record this podcast about comparison. And she's like, Well, I have a story for you. I'm like, she said, I was pregnant and was invited to a shower of a friend of mine who was pregnant who was six weeks farther along than me. And one of the games they played was you had to measure your stomach and then guess the number. And she's like, I was so embarrassed because my baby bump was bigger than hers and she was six weeks farther ahead of me. But we all carry pregnancy different.
And again, it's, you know, when we compare, Sarah, we either come out on top, um, or we come out below. And it either creates pride in us or insecurity and anxiety in us. And I really think God wants us to get a grip on this as mom.
He does. He does. I was listening to a gentleman that talked about how as people, not just moms, like, we want this standard to compare ourselves, and what is that? Why do we need that piece? And as a young mom, kind of thinking back, Becky, as you were raising your four kids, um, how do you think comparison just kind of seeped into your life? What were some things? Because usually when you're in the middle of it, you're not thinking, oh, I'm comparing myself against but how do you think it entered your life personally if you don't mind sharing when you were in the thick of it.
I don't mind at all. Yeah, I don't mind at all. Sarah, I have shared with you, Sarah, that if you're an Enneagram follower, I'm a pretty solid three, right? So I'm the achiever. And I think that came out in my motherhood journey. And I had this deep desire where I really wanted to do motherhood well. I wanted to raise my kids and have them feel loved and cherished. And I also was an elementary schoolteacher before I taught Bible, so I wanted them to know certain things, and so I pushed them at times to read or whatever. And, you know, I think it came out in a million ways. I was a person who really struggled with body image. So I remember comparing my body to other moms, thinking, I wish I looked like that or this or the other thing. And then there's just natural places where you compare your kids. Like, why is my kid not running as fast as that kid? And honestly, it's kind of a joke with my kids. Um, even to this day, my kids are all grown and they're like, mom, you saw us through rose colored glasses. You thought we were the best in everything, and you were delusional. You know what I did? I remember telling my daughter, you were the best pitcher on the tee ball team. Now, if you think about tee ball, there's no pitcher. But in my mind, she was the best.
I mean, everyone wants that. Mom, that just cheers you on. But then they're like, mom, reality not so much.
Right? Exactly. And it's just comparing really damages our connection with God, our connection with our fellow moms, and our connection with our child. Because any parent out there, any mom out there who has multiple children, your first is never exactly like your second. Your second is never exactly like your third, and your third is wildly different than your fourth. And learning to see each child for the profound masterpiece that they are, rather than comparing them like, okay, your sister gets straight A's in school. Why can't you be like that? Or, Your brother does so well in sports, I'm going to push you a little harder in sports. Or, this child obeys me all the time and you never obey me. That comparison, that hurts our connection with our kids.
It sure does. I've been more familiar lately with that self talk that we do internally and trying to just call that out a little bit right now that I'm out of the sleep deprivation stage of parenting, it's like, what are those thoughts that are going inside my head? But, um, one of those things, we were going to talk about it, so we might as well jump in. That you didn't have in motherhood was social media. And honestly, Becky, maybe a gift, right? Because here I am. There's a potential of social media speaking of connected to be connected, right? Like, here you are, you're at home. Perhaps you could be less lonely because you're seeing photos of friends or you're messaging or that sort of thing. But there's also, like, this really quick twist for me, and I'm sure many can relate to this, where you start looking and scrolling. It's like, oh, wow, they, uh, look really good, or their house, man, that's a nice house. And the comparison, it's like, a natural thing if you don't keep it in check. But let me share this social, uh, media story. I was kind of telling you about it right before we recorded, because I think it was just a good example of how we all do it or even don't even intentionally compare, but it's there. So I was, um, very ill. Pregnant pregnancy was very difficult for me, and so I didn't gain a lot of weight, honestly, to begin with. It just my babies were a little smaller when they were born. But I was so thankful they were super healthy, and I'm thankful for that gift. But I just had my first son, and I had, like, this not very stylish, like, striped maternity shirt on pink and white stripes. Okay? And so I had taken a picture, I think, like, a week before Charles was born, and I'm like, Bloated, I'm looking good, Becky. It's a profile shot. Uh, and now I look at it, I'm like, wow, you are so sick. You're just doing everything you could to get to the finish line. And so I'm feeling better after I have little Charles. And I thought I'd seen those comparisons in the womb outside of the I thought, okay, well, I'll wear the same shirt, and I'll have little Charles. You know, I'll hold him right there. Uh, because to me, I really was amazed. I mean, it was such a fight to be well during my pregnancy that I thought, this is a gift from God. I really had a good intent, truly. I don't always when I post and I check myself a lot when I post, like, why am I posting this? You know? And so I put it on. It's like a side by side me, terribly pregnant, me a month out. And I put it there, really, to rejoice and what had happened. And my heart sank as those comments start coming in, because so many of my mama friends were like, you look amazing. How did you lose all that weight? Um look at you, mom. You go, girl. And I'm like, oh, no. And it was like, all of my friends, like, the instant they saw that photo, they didn't see I mean, some of them did, right? Some of them saw this beautiful gift of life, but so many of them just saw how my body had bounced back to them. And I thought it was just a good reminder of not only being the poster, but being the consumer of that post. And okay, what are the thoughts that, um, come to my mind when social media hits? And so I have not mastered that, Becky. And I know none of us are immune to it, but it was just a reminder of how every photo is an opportunity right, to keep that inner voice in check. Right. Because there can be good and I don't want to say ban social media. Right. I don't think that's your but, uh, how do you kind of keep a check of that? Because we were talking about our hair this morning, like, oh, man, am I ready for this.
I know, right? Um, I think social media, like you said, is a gift. However, it can also trigger a lot of comparison thoughts. And I think the key is the responsibility probably lays on both sides. Yeah, right. I mean, I, uh, have seen people post, like, wow, I'm back in my size, too, six weeks after pregnancy, and I'm thinking, Why? Mhm. Yeah, so, I mean, there's that. But I really think most people are posting just because they're excited, like you about your baby or a mom posts about roses that she got from her husband. I mean, I post pictures like that because I love my husband and I deeply appreciate him, so I might want to give him a shout out. But as we're on social media, we have to frame a prayer around our thinking, like, Lord Jesus, help me to control my thoughts, because you have not called me to compare myself to this woman or that woman. You have not called me to compare my husband with that woman's husband or my house with her house. I mean, really? Scripture teaches us that Godliness with contentment is great gain. And when we're comparing, we're really like, um, digging up our contentment. There's a parable in Scriptures that I actually love on this topic, Sarah, and it's found in Matthew 20, verses one to 16. So Jesus tells this story. He says, hey, there was a landowner and he went out and he hired people to work for him from sun up till sundown, right? And they agreed on how much they were going to get paid. And then at 09:00 in the morning, that would have been 3 hours after the other workers started, he went out and hired more and sent them into the field. And then he did that at noon and then he did that at 03:00 p.m.. And then right before closing time, then all the workers line up to get their pay and they all get the same pay and all of a sudden, everybody's throwing a stick, right. And, uh, really, this parable, I think it's for us as Americans because we're always screaming about our rights, for starters, anyway. So these workers are all screaming about, well, that's not fair, he got paid the same as me. And I only worked and he only worked an hour, and I've been breaking my back for 12 hours, and what's up with this? And then Jesus says, Is it really up, uh, to you? Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I'm generous? And that parable really speaks to me, and it shows m me that we have to bring our thoughts in line with Christ, and so we have to manage our selftalk. Some people think that that's becoming obsessed with yourself. I don't think so. I think it's exercising the spiritual discipline of Lord. I'm going to rein in my thoughts here because God is going to bless some of your friends with a beautiful body, and they're going to be able to eat donuts every day of their life. And then there are going to be those of us where if we eat donuts every day for our life, it's going to go to our hips. Right. And God is going to bless some of you with babies that sleep through the night as infants, and you're always going to look well rested. And then there are going to be those of you that your child doesn't sleep through the night ever. In fact, I had one daughter asked me, mom, when did we sleep through the night? And I said, oh, honey, all different times for all of you. And it didn't matter what I did, right? Yeah. And then there will be some of your children who are extremely gifted intellectually, and math is going to come easy for them. And then there are going to be those sweet little souls that have to work double time on Mass. And God has the right to give gifts as he will, and we need to bring ourselves in line with Him. Every life will have a measure of hardship and suffering, and every life will have a measure of gifts and goodness. And we have to thank God for the gifts and the goodness, and at the same time, ask Him to shape us through the sorrowful moments and the suffering moments.
So good. I also think, uh, this morning about the scripture in where is it, Philippians, where Paul says he knows what it is to be in need and he knows what it is to have plenty. And I think, man, how do you get to that? Right? Like he says, I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, and it's like, that's my end goal. So it's like, what are those steps, you think? A few practical steps where we I mean, it really is contentment, right? If it's not comparison.
What are those ways that you think, Moms, especially in my life stage where we're just running from thing to thing, um, that can really ground us in the truth of being content versus comparing?
Yeah, I'm glad you asked that question, Sarah. I think the first thing is we need to train ourselves to worship the giver of the gifts more than the gifts themselves. We tend to put, uh, the thing we want ahead of the God who gives us. That really setting your focus on Christ every day. In fact, the writer of Hebrew says you all run in a race. And then he goes on to say, fix your focus on the author and finisher of your faith. And that race is not to be a competition. It's the race and the journey to Fologies as well. And so I have found for me, I need to set my thoughts on Christ first thing in the morning and then throughout the day, I come back to that right. And then, uh, to increase gratefulness. Thankfulness is everything. I say that a lot, Sarah, but it's really true. I believe as a mom, you should be praising God and thanking God for your child every day of that child's life. On the good days, on the bad days, on the frustrating days, on, um, the crazy days, on the chaotic days. Thank God for your child, because that child is a gift, a gift from God to you. In fact, in the Psalms, it says that children are a reward from the Lord. So the Lord thought that you were good enough to raise that child. Think about that. The Lord had confidence in you, that you were the right mama for that child. And so we gain our confidence from him. So the first thing is to worship the giver of the gifts more than the gifts themselves, and then to cultivate a heart of thankfulness and then become a fast confessor. When you find that you're comparing, you got to be ruthless with yourself and say, Lord, forgive me. It's interesting because, uh, we're filming this podcast today and I'm going to be really authentic with you because that's my style. That's okay with all of our listings. So this morning, I know we're going to do this right, but I happened to go on social media because I have to be on social media for my job. And I noticed that somebody that has only written one book has thousands and thousands and thousands of followers on Instagram. And immediately I felt this sense of, oh, man, I'm not cutting it. And immediately after I had that thought, I was like, okay, Lord, I confess that thought to you. I know that thought is not from the Holy Spirit. I know that thought is sent to me from the enemy of my soul who wants to discourage me and keep me from thriving in the calling that you have on my life. And so we have to learn when our thoughts get out of control, and they will at times. I mean, sometimes you're tired in the middle of the night and you're thinking, why can't this kids sleep like my friends kids? Or why can't my husband wake up in the middle of the night and help me more like my friend's husband or why doesn't my husband look like that hot barista across town? I mean, as soon as those thoughts come, we've got to rein him in and say, lord, I confess this to you and then replace what you were craving so much with thankfulness again. Lord, I thank you for my child. I thank you for his sweet spirit. I thank you for his energetic spirit. I thank you that you are at work in his life. I think that you are weaving your story in his life, learning to replace those wonky thoughts, as I call them, with Godly thoughts. And that's how you can begin to cultivate like that verse you talked about, Sarah, where Paul says, I have learned. I always go back to that. I have that circled in my Bible. I have learned. It's a learning process. You're not going to get this overnight, you know, because there's always going to be something better than what you have, whether it's a house, a child that you think is better than your child, or more well behaved, or smarter or better looking. It's interesting how this comes out in parents of graduating high school students, isn't it?
Tell me what you're thinking about that.
Well, you see on Facebook, my son got into Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and you're thinking, my kid, we're lucky if we get accepted anywhere. Or my kid got into the community college for two years or trade school.
Yeah, we're glad he graduated. Right. We're just glad he got a diploma.
Right. I have a really good friend who is very big in the counseling world and, um, is one of the leading experts on trauma. And she had adopted two kids. And I remember while some of our kids, my kids were teenagers, being worried about one child's grades. And I'll never forget her leaning over the table saying, oh, Becky, you have no idea. You just have, uh, no idea. I'm going to be thrilled if my child graduates, you know, or doesn't get expelled from school for something. So we have to keep it in check. And I think even we need to keep our sense of humor.
I'm going to take a risk here, but there are these, um, dude Perfect Videos. Have you seen any of them?
Oh, my boys are big fans.
Yeah, some of my grandsons are big fans, too. And so Dude Perfect Videos, they're a group of dads and they are all Christ followers and I love them. And if you haven't, uh, checked it out, check out their stereotype new parent videos. Because in there it is hilarious. Some of the things that happen in that video. And one of them is where this one dad is really bragging about his son and all the things he can do. And, you know, God is just tremendously patient with us as parents, right? M. He gives us grace when we fail and we're all going to fail in this area because it's easy to compare and it's easy to get caught up in that game. But it's not what Price wants for us. He wants us to cultivate contentment.
Mhm uh, another sense of humor thing. I was driving downtown the other day and I saw this bumper sticker and sometimes it's like, proud parent of a kid on the honor roll. And this one said, proud parent of a D plus student.
I was like, we're just proud of him no matter what. I just love that because I think it is easier to have a sense of humor about it. You just have to go because it just gets so serious. Especially American culture, right? It's just what are your grades? What sport are you in? Do you play travel? Um, oh, they're in the special Stem school and the magnet school. Oh my gosh. It's just everywhere. And we often see it as good. Like, well, he did better than last year, comparing even them against themselves, right. And it's like there is good in that. Like, you want to see progress. So sometimes I'm like, okay, is this like my motives? Or is this like, oh, good, I want to see them grow as kids. And, um, for instance, my boys are trying out this flag football league. It's very casual with the YMCA and I'm pretty big on just having experiences. And I know the younger you are, it's easier to fail when you're younger, right. Versus trying to walk on at high school, playing a sport. And so we get in. Becky my kids are remotely athletic and it's more painful for me than it is for them. And just checking myself. And I've had to just revert to, like you said, that sense of humor. Like, you know, Charles is out there, it's hot, it's like 85 out there and he's mum, the world is spinning, I've got to sit down. He misses half the practice because he can't hang with the rest of the month. I'm just like, oh my gosh. Like, okay. So it's just having that sense of humor is really helpful because I can take it too seriously. I can take it, you know, oh no, he's got to do this. He's got to finish the practice today. And balancing that, like, how much to push, but how much to just be, like you said, knowing how they are, right. Maybe they're not ever going to be good at math and that's okay. And that's okay. Letting that go.
I think we have to go back to scripture again, sarah because, um, Paul wrote that when we're weak, then God is strong. And when I look at who Jesus picked as his disciples, he didn't go for the shining stars, really. Uh, a lot of leadership experts tend to look at who Jesus chose and think, wow, he could have picked a better team, right? I mean, this ragtag group of fishermen were likely dropouts of school. Right. They were getting in fights over who was the greatest. And yet it's through those guys that Jesus founds the early church and transforms the world. And the power of the Holy Spirit is only made perfect in our weakness. And so we have to remember that so that we don't set our expectations to awfully high for our kids. I mean, there's a balance, right? Because you want your kids to be the best that they can be. But again, connection is everything. And how connected you are to them is more important than what their grades are. How connected you are to them is more important than what sports team they make or what choir they make. How connected you are to them is way more important than them being the top of their class. And I think here in the United States especially, we have overemphasized success in sports. As a result, we have a lot of parents prioritizing sports, over church, over youth group. And at the end of the day, which is more important to you? That your kid gets some ginormous scholarship or that your kid walk with Jesus? Right. Um, and the irony of the whole thing is a lot of times all the money we spend on training them so that they'll get the scholarship, we maybe just could have paid for college flat out because it's so expensive. And I'm not bashing sports. I think sports activities for kids, of course, there's so much learning that happens there learning how to be a team player, learning how to win, learning how to lose. Right. But it's not about being the absolute best. And we have to remind ourselves of that as moms. Because it carries through to every area of our life. It carries through to our marriages, our relationship with our girlfriends, how we interact with other people. And if we're always pulling out that measuring stick and getting into this comparison mode, we're doing damage to our relationships.
Yeah, because in friendships, that leach is often too people sense that if they feel like you're really down on yourself or those insecurities, then it's hard to be a friend to that kind of person. I mean, it's kind of sad because it's like a symptom that things aren't quite right. But it also can push us away from the very thing we need, which are those authentic relationships with our friends and our kids. I was just thinking something profound I put together as you're talking is, um, those moments of weakness can bring the connection we often want to run from. Johnny's not great at school or Johnny, you know, I don't know why I'm using Johnny, but he got in trouble at Sunday school. Right. And it's like but those are the times I'm imagining. Those are the times I need to slow down right. And have that connection when he doesn't quite compare to where his peers are. Right. I love your stories, Becky. They're always fun. Do you have any where it was like a weakness, but a moment of connection with the child.
Okay. So I think sometimes parents get really upset when their kids get in trouble in school for whatever. Right. And I get that. Right. Um, so our son JJ, who is now a phenomenal leader and speaks all around the country in churches and everything. I remember in first grade, social was just really important to him. And so he and our daughter Bethany would ride the school bus home from school together. And I can still see our son JJ. He would run down the street to tell me he got his name on the board for talking again, because he knew if he didn't, his older sister would tell on him. But as I would take the time to hear what would happen, it was like, all innocent stuff. He was just talking too much. And along the way, I learned that oftentimes the kids that are the greatest leaders do get in trouble in school. So relax about it. It's not the end of the world.
Good news for Mamas out there. He or she might be a leader. This is good.
You might be using a world changer. Right. Because a lot of times, the kids that never get in trouble in school, they're maybe shy and quiet, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, a lot of times, strong gifts of leadership show up in kids, uh, being disruptive. Right. Because that's how God's wired them so that they'll disrupt the world later as a leader. But I think connecting with your child, those moments after school, just hearing JJ's stories, um, giving him a snack, laughing when it was funny and not taking it too seriously. You know, looking back on the journey, I don't regret laughing about things. My regrets are that maybe I didn't laugh enough or that I took things a little too seriously and honestly, parenting is a long journey, and there are going to be those crazy moments, and you just got to laugh about them because it's not the end of the world, and it's okay. Take the pressure off yourself, because as you take the pressure off yourself to be some kind of Wonder Woman or perfect mom, you're taking the pressure off your kids. Because there's this weird cycle when we have pressure on ourselves to be like, the perfect mom, then that spills over to our kids, and they end up getting anxious because they think they have to live up to some superstar.
Absolutely. Well, we are almost out of time. This has gone by way too fast. But I think some of the things I want to take away from this is to keep that sense of humor, just laugh more about those, because it really does help bring that tension that can come from comparison down. But then I love that you said worship the. Giver of gifts. I love that as a way to combat comparison, um, to increase thankfulness in your heart. Right. It's hard to keep comparison alive when you're thanking God for the things you have. I love that. And then praising God for our child, that one really hit me. I mean, just even moment by moment in those frustrating and joyful times, praising God for his life, her life, and, um, praying on how to be more connected with that little treasure that the Lord has rewarded us with, right? I mean, those are fantastic. And then lastly, um, becoming a fast confessor when you recognize those thoughts, it's the taking captive our thoughts, right. Um, bringing them into submission, knowing that, um, those aren't the thoughts that the Lord wants us to have. We should, um, be fast to confess those things that bring out UN thankfulness, really. So I love those. Becky, anything else you want to say to wrap up? Maybe, um, we could close in prayer.
Too for our hey, I just want to say to you, mom's out there, your child is exactly where God wants them. And just enjoy the journey with them. Don't get too wiggy over when they potty train, when they read, when they test scores. Just enjoy the journey because it really does go fast. And so let me pray for you. Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of motherhood. Thank you for all the amazing children that are represented by the listeners of this podcast. Lord, I thank you for my own children. I thank you for the funny stories. I thank you for the times where I messed up as a parent and you took over. I thank you for amazing grandchildren who just keep me laughing and keep me rejoicing in life. And so, Lord, would you go before us in this journey of not comparing? Would you remind us to worship you and not to worship the gift that we want? Would you help us to remember in the moments when we're tempted to compare, that you have designed and created us on purpose, for a purpose? In Jesus name, amen. You've been listening to the Connected Mom podcast. We hope you'll join us next week for another episode as we have reallife conversations about connecting more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow moms, and more intentionally with your children. Thanks for joining us today.