Comparison is a bastard when it comes to motherhood. We’re rarely comparing to become better; we’re comparing and feeling like shit about ourselves. Yes, there are times when I’m scrolling, reading, or observing other women and become inspired to be a better version of myself. I do believe that inspiration can come from the outside as well as what’s internal. But let’s be real that when it comes to being a mom, we’re judging, falling down a rabbit hole, or getting dark about where someone else is compared to where we are in that moment. When you’re scrolling through Instagram at 9pm after a long day of the un-glamorous world of mom-shit, are you getting burst of positivity to do better, be better and for F’s sake take a shower? Or is it more like a 2 hour trap of internally ripping on whoever you’re following, what they look like, feeling you should be doing what they are doing, full of regret, panic about what you’re missing, and all the things you need to change to be as colorful as your feed? In the world of live people, let’s say you’re at a playgroup where you don’t know the moms that well. Is there judgment of what they are feeding their child, wondering why they’re not breastfeeding, perplexed as to why they are still breastfeeding, seeing their child do things differently than yours (I mean what is WRONG with their child?!), how the mom is dressed, if she appears to be struggling, and if she’s dressed to the 9’s and has full-on makeup?

As a human being, I believe it’s only natural to compare ourselves from time to time. It allows for us to “check in” on our own selves and if we are truly happy where we are. It’s impossible not to be intrigued by what someone else is doing, especially when it’s something we never imagined we’d do. The personal development junkie inside of me is constantly reading books, blogs, newsletters, watching videos, taking courses, following influencers on social media, listening to stories, and ingesting ways for me to be the “best” version of myself. With all the information and inspiration that is out there, it’s easy for me to get clouded with everyone else’s story and to not even connect with what will work for me as a unique individual. I’ve almost become brain-washed at times believing that what the speaker shouted at me, or what the words in someone’s New York Times Bestseller list book is telling me I need to be, is what my life was supposed to end up like. The trouble is, I’ve never ended up like any of them.

I was an avid Facebook user before baby, but not Instagram. Honestly I don’t even know if I knew WHAT Instagram was at that time. My breastfeeding nights consisted of me on the couch downstairs, then our bed, and eventually in her room on a rocker scrolling with my thumb. What’s everyone doing, where are they going, who’s that, what’s that, that looks cool, oh her baby is beautiful, she looks amazing, how is she already back and at ‘em, the outfit she’s wearing, she’s lost her baby weight, she never gained it, and this sentence could go on as long as I would scroll at 3am. At times I honestly gave two shits. Exhausted and in a daze, I don’t even know if I was paying attention to have the things I was seeing on my feed.

Comparison isn’t just about what exciting trip you see someone going on, how much baby weight they’ve lost, or what they are wearing, it can go right into how you’re raising your baby. I was in a bunch of mommy Facebook groups during the first 4 years of being a mom. Considering myself more on the “crunchy” side (I hate labels but my point with mentioning it is how dumb it is to label yourself), I flocked to those groups that catered toward that. There were also a couple general mommy Facebook groups where women simply asked and shared parenting tips. I will say that surprisingly the most judgmental and comparison-trapping experiences were found on my more crunchy mom pages. I would search “organic formula” and find a slew of posts with not only what choices I had but then the judgmental “advice” that would be given. I’d go down massive rabbit holes looking at what everyone else was doing versus trusting my gut or even phoning a friend instead. I’d read a post and how that mom was looking at ways to teach their 18-month basic site words and wonder if Brooklyn should be reading site words at that age. Yes, I actually wondered if she should be reading. I also wondered if she could talk at 5 months as I would repeat “MA-MA” at her 3 chins and rolling eyes as she shit her diaper. Lost in a forest of stories, tips, questions and “should my baby be…” questions, every single day I wondered what Brooklyn should be doing. What I could be doing for her. Was I missing anything or depriving her of growing in every way possible?

When the comparison trap got even worse for me was when I was a bit more conscious and awake in motherhood, which started when Brooklyn became a toddler. That’s when she started Montessori and I had LIVE interaction with women. Cocktails on a Friday night involved swapping stories about what everyone’s child was doing. We’d talk about challenges but there was also some one-upping. One-upping is the soul & fuel of comparison. Competing for the top of that topic. Storytelling as if what you’re going through with your child is a pain in the ass but you’re actually subtly bragging.

At times, comparison can go the other way and have some interesting effects as well. I noticed it this past summer as I would read and listen to stories on social media as well as live conversation with mothers complaining about their kids.

Summer’s just started and I already want to kill them

Is it wine-thirty yet?

God I can’t wait for camp to start

I thought I’d enjoy this week with them being home but I they’re beasts!

There’s nothing wrong with bitching about your kids. It’s actually quite funny at times, especially when they’re not yours. Comparing my summer to other mom’s summers gave me a super interesting feeling that I didn’t expect. I actually felt GUILTY. More mom guilt, great! Why did I feel guilty? Well, for some unexplained reason and gift from someone above or below me, I actually enjoyed my summer with Brooklyn and didn’t want it to end. I loved being with her, even on her week-long breaks from camp. So as a friend or a new mom-friend ranted and raged, I fell silent and didn’t feel confident in saying “I’m actually enjoying my summer.” GULP. I didn’t dare say it. Why wasn’t I the mom that seemed to be the norm of the summer? I’d see memes on social media all about moms being driven to drink and insanity when summer hit. Bonding on the New Year’s Day for Moms as champagne was being sprayed and chugged on the first day of school (which, by the way, I’d still do even if I was sad that school is starting). Was my head in the clouds a bit or was I really just simply happy with how my summer went, and THAT’S OK! I don’t get upset when my friends don’t have the same experience as I had, so why would I feel guilty being honest and happy for myself?

Trapping myself in my entrepreneur life has also been pretty brutal as I follow, read, watch, and listen to ways to be a more successful mom. That you are MADE FOR MORE message (that I talk about in chapter X) where my Instragram feed is flooded with female entrepreneurs struttin’ their stuff and sharing what THEY are doing to rock their world. Many are mothers, some aren’t, but as I was creating my health coaching practice and building it, I couldn’t help but sniff around at what the cool cats were doing. The ones with 100K followers, flashy photos, best-selling books, compelling speaking skills, beautiful hair and clothes, and what appeared to be only but happiness. I’d read their posts, see the amount of likes, and be inspired to be just like that. I wanted that, whatever it was. I was drinking the Kool-Aid and my brain was leading me to believe in my heart that my worth was based on what I was seeing these people do on social media. So not only was I depressed because I let go of a career and was wasting a college education, but I was choosing to be thrown into the Instagram comparison tornado which made it worse. Most of these women weren’t JUST moms, they were stylists, health coaches, food bloggers, fashion bloggers, mommy bloggers, “influencers” (God I’m so over that world and word), and they not only had pretty pictures but stories to match. Why was it so hard for me? Why was I still in my pajama pants and nursing tank making a ghetto website and figuring out how to create a business from scratch with zero experience or skills? Some broad makes 6 figures and barely works (so she can be a mom TOO!) and in some way taking a professional photo and creating 30 hashtags is the way to do it?

Yes, the whole story isn’t told and that’s another piece of comparison crap. We never get the full story. Not on social media, not in a live conversation, not in a book and not even from your best friend. The problem with this unhealthy form of comparison is that you are trying to live up to something that isn’t even the full truth. Instead of using comparison to connect to what makes you happy, fulfilled, satisfied, and grow. My mother used to tell my bossy-ass self,


“If you spent as much time on yourself as you do other people,

you’d be PERFECT!”

I LOVE that quote and I’m not sure if she made it up or heard it from someone, but it’s brilliant. If only she was still the mother of my youth and she could have yelled that at me as I was drowning in comparison and neglecting taking care of myself. I once read

Comparison puts the emphasis and work on the wrong person (or something like that!)

And it’s totally spot on. How was I going to find what worked for me during each season of my life when I was constantly looking at what everyone else was doing? So what if some “influencer” is speaking around the country or if a friend of yours went back to work? Who cares if a mom in a Facebook group makes her own baby food, and if a woman looks amazing because she’s been working out and eating well, be fucking HAPPY for her and hone in on why there’s a fire inside of you that wants to burn you and not fuel you. If you care, your feelings are valid but, figure out WHY you care the way you do.

It’s time to figure out YOUR strengths, YOUR values and what YOU offer as a woman and mother. If you can’t answer any of these, this is your time to use whatever tools to help you navigate towards finding the answers. Podcasts, books, writing, being creative, workshops, finding women that you can relate to, walks in nature (this is when my brain really gets going), trying new things, and dang girl, be honest about what truly makes YOU happy. Figuring out your own life and being confident in it will allow you to scroll without getting trapped.

How have you become trapped in comparison?  Do you have any tips for me or any new mom reading this?  I’d love for you to share in the comments below!

Thank you for reading and sharing,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

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