Why do we allow ourselves to do it?
We start with good intentions, wanting the best for our children… but what is “best”? We look at others’ lives and decide our family needs…, should be doing…, is missing out if we don’t…
It starts when our children are newborns, and at new mums’ groups we compare birth stories and developmental milestones. As they grow, so do our comparisons: eating, walking, reading, writing, maths ability, behaviour… the list of possibilities is endless.
I used to pride myself on not getting sucked into the comparison trap. I wasn’t worried when my children crawled or walked late. As long as they were growing and eating healthily, I didn’t stress about food. I was relaxed about reading and writing, knowing that children get it in the end, and had confidence in my homeschool curriculum, that it would work.
Then it all went wrong. I started reading more blogs written by Christian homeschooling mums. Now this wasn’t a bad thing, on the contrary, I’ve found them very encouraging and inspiring. However, instead of comparing my children, I’ve started comparing myself. Not so helpful.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that reading blogs is unhelpful, or that I personally shouldn’t read blogs. On the contrary, observing others has helped me develop a daily rhythm that I undoubtedly wouldn’t have managed otherwise. I really appreciate knowing that I am not alone in this often somewhat isolated world of homeschooling, especially on rainy days when it’s difficult to get out and about. I have found many useful ideas from fellow mums, such as the how, when and what of training children to do everyday household chores.
But why do we compare our children/ourselves? I think in the vast majority of people it is because we want to do the best we can for our families. I have come to realise that whilst this is a noble reason, we are seeking praise in the wrong places. I certainly wanted to be a good mother so my husband and children would appreciate me, or so I could sit down at the end of a busy day feeling like I had done well for my children.
What I have realised is that I need a change in perspective. We can strive to be better in our own strength to earn the praise of men, or we can lean on Jesus for God’s glory and to please Him.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.c
Looking to the Lord, following Him, obeying Him, and serving Him is the only way we can find true fulfilment in our difficult roles as homemakers, wives, mothers, women, and ultimately, children of God.
I am a child of God, and so are you.