I don’t remember ever agreeing to play the comparison game with my life. I did not realize getting caught up in making spins and moves to be better or put me “ahead” of someone, anyone, had seeped in and taken root.
I didn’t see it at all, until last night. My kids were all so excited to go to a family members birthday party. My sweet little niece was turning one! She is just adorable and we loved watching her play with balloons, open her presents, and chow down on that awesome first birthday cake. The kids had a blast playing, the adults loved watching them, the food was good, the cake was cute, the decorations were perfect. As I helped clean up after the guests started to leave, I mentioned to my sweet niece’s mother that it was a great party and she did a good job.
“Thanks”, She said, “It stressed me out but I was trying to keep up with you!”
Wow. That simple little statement hunted my thoughts all night.
I thought about the birthday parties I had recently thrown for our children. They were perfect, I had made sure of it. We had beautiful backdrops behind the food tables so that our birthday pictures would turn out perfect. We had big homemade cakes decorated with sprinkles, theme characters, fondant, and extravagant themed candles, We served full meals instead of just cake even though it adds hundreds of dollars to the cost. We bought extravagant party favors and had the perfect combination of store bought and homemade decorations. We had kiddy shows playing in the back ground and planned games, bought little pools and slip ‘n’ slides, and made sure we had a TON of presents!
Why had I done all of that? Why had I put so much work, money, and stress into those parties? Was it for the kids? Did they care if cakes were extravagant, the backdrops were beautiful or if the decorations were overwhelming? Would they have cared if we got them a happy meal after the party instead of paying for all their guests to eat? Honestly, even having fewer gifts wouldn’t have bothered my kids one bit. So, why had I done it all? If I am being truthful with myself, most of what I did was for me. I wanted to look good. I wanted others to think I was super mom and had it all together. I wanted the guests to look at my cakes and say how talented I was. I wanted to be Big Dog on campus. I wanted to look better than other moms.
And now here it was, I got what I wanted. Other moms looked at me and thought I had done it right. So, why did I feel like crap?
I knew this precious mama didn’t have the money to throw this kind of party. She worked very hard and saved a long time to pay for the food and decorations. She is a single mother without much time and had poured hours into decorating. She was stressed and tired. Sure, the kids had fun but they would have been just as happy with just the pile of balloons and piece of cake. She was comparing herself to me and didn’t want herself or her kids to fall short.
This broke my heart. It also made me think. What areas of my life do I compare to other people? Mothers I feel like have it all together, women who I think look better than me, people who I feel disapprove of choices I have made for myself and my family are all the people I am constantly comparing myself to, wondering what they think of me or if I can measure up.
How much time and resources have I wasted in my comparison efforts? How many ways have I stolen from my family because I thought I wasn’t enough or we had to have MORE and BIGGER to be happy? I never consider myself to not be content. I don’t want a bigger house or more money but boy, do I want to be respected and loved and thought of highly. That is just as shallow.
God made me who I am. I should be more worried about being who He wants me to be than if “so and so” thinks my house is clean, if anyone noticed my weight gain, if the baseball moms like my hair cut, or if my kids can say their ABC’s as quickly as the public school mom’s kids can. This is all so trivial and ridiculous and I am DONE. I am done playing this game of comparison. I fold.
From now on my life will be based on what God wants first, and what my family needs second. If we have fun birthday parties they will be for the enjoyment of the birthday girl or boy and not for show. The gifts will be more thoughtful and less large. The house may be clean but It will be so I can find my keys, not so I can brag. The weight may go down but I will not be posting pictures (I deleted my Facebook app so I couldn’t play the comparison game on there!). I will not be reading blogs or friends posts about things going on in their life and jealously think that they are always so perfect. I will not seek to prove myself or show off my talents. More money will be saved or spent on family time than on things to show. Things are going to be more simple around here but I am not going to fall into a comparison trap there either. We don’t need to compare ourselves to minimalist bloggers or point out to friends all the things we gave up or go without.
We just need to live, and that is what I intend to do.