When I was a young mom, I compared myself to every other mom out there.
My house wasn’t as clean as theirs was, my kids weren’t dressed as nicely as theirs were, I wasn’t as thin as them, as pretty as them, as put together as them, as organized as them…
The list went on and on.
It took me a few years to realize that no matter how nicely a package is wrapped, you have no idea what the heck is on the inside.
Everyone is fucked up in some way(s).
Even the moms with the perfect exteriors.
Especially the moms with the perfect exteriors!
Sometimes I think the more perfectly the package is presented, the higher the level of fuckupedness!
Anyway, around the time I realized we are all flawed and we are all insecure and that even the seemingly perfect people had plenty of insecurities and issues, something else happened.
The comparing stopped because I had reached a point in my life and in motherhood where what other people thought and what other people said no longer mattered to me.
And you know how the saying goes…
What other people think about me is none of my business.
I knew the truth about myself, and I finally learned that when other people are judging me, when other people don’t acknowledge me, when other people snicker about me or talk behind my back, that has nothing to do with me.
And everything to do with them.
This is something that has taken me many, many years to comprehend.
I’ll use my favorite example to illustrate this.
Let’s look at cilantro (or coriander as it is called outside the US).
Cilantro is cilantro.
Some people love cilantro.
I’m one of those people.
I LOOOOOVE cilantro.
I can’t get enough of it.
Give me some fresh salsa with cilantro in it and I’ll eat it with a spoon!
But there are other people who hate cilantro!
Who literally can’t stand it!
They say it tastes like soap!
What the hell is wrong with these people?!?!
I do not get the cilantro haters.
Just like they probably don’t get me.
But here is the thing.
The cilantro that I love and the cilantro that they hate are the exact same cilantro.
So the problem isn’t the cilantro.
It’s the people eating it.
Not that liking or not liking cilantro is a problem. It’s totally not.
But you see what I mean.
Peoples’ tastes are different.
Some people like cilantro and some people don’t.
The difference isn’t in the cilantro. It’s in the people eating it and what they like or don’t like.
So just as some people love cilantro and some people don’t love cilantro, some people like me, and other people don’t.
But it’s not because of me.
I’m just a bunch of cilantro.
The reason why some people may not get me or relate to me or connect to me or appreciate me is because of their tastes.
Learning this lesson has really helped me move out of Self-Doubtville, USA.
Okay so this was a little bit of a tangent, but once I stopped comparing myself to other people and once I stopped obsessing over what other people thought about me, here is what happened.
I found that I was able to appreciate other moms more.
Rather than looking at them as competition, I started looking at them as fellow human being sharing the motherhood experience.
Even if some of us love cilantro and some of us hate it, we all have that common connection.
We all have strengths and we all have talents, and we don’t need to outdo each other.
Because imagine how much ass we could kick collectively as moms if we worked together rather than trying to compete with each other and feeling insecure when we just fed our kids Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dinner and we see our friend who is whipping up a gourmet meal and throwing around terms like sous-vide on Facebook (this seriously happened to me last week) and you are like what the fuck does sous-vide even mean???
Imagine if we pooled all of our talents and worked toward a common goal?
I just recently had this experience.
I co-directed the 4th grade play at Number 5’s school with three other moms.
Let me tell you, when 4 moms who don’t know each other that well get together to do something like direct 100+ kids in a 4th grade musical, you enter some pretty challenging territory.
Especially when two of the moms are pretty ballsy and outspoken and opinionated and like to take charge.
Yes, I was one of those moms.
There was some head-butting.
There was some tension.
There was some back-and-forth.
It was not all rainbows and unicorns.
Especially as we were feeling more and more stress and pressure as we neared the performance dates.
But then I had an aha moment.
I took a step back and pulled my head out of my ass and regained perspective and remembered why we had all stepped forward to make the play happen in the first place.
It wasn’t about my ego or anyone else’s ego.
It was about the kids.
And after that, pardon my French, but we kicked some fucking ass.
Now don’t get me wrong.
Dads are great.
Dads do some pretty cool shit and they can also collectively kick ass.
But not like moms.
But I just haven’t seen it happen like I have seen it happen with women.
Moms can make any impossible situation run smoothly while remembering every single detail.
Sometimes we are so busy beating ourselves up that we forget this.
I was reminded of this this past weekend when we put on the production of the Lion King Kids with 100+ kids.
What started out as 4 moms volunteering to run the 4th grade play turned into close to sixty moms (and four dads) working together in different capacities to put on a play that received the following comments:
I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for the AMAZING 4th grade play. My children (4-year-old twin boys and their 2-year-old brother) are among the toughest critics in the world, and they were absolutely mesmerized throughout the entire performance. I’m floored by the talent of our 4th grade students and how polished their performance was.
Thank you – thank you – thank you [to all the directors] and many more unsung heroes behind the scenes who pulled off one of the best 4th grade plays ever!!!
I have worked in theater and I have seen many, many kids’ productions, and I have to tell you that this was THE BEST KIDS’ PERFORMANCE I have ever seen. Everyone should see this. You should take this on the road.
Those were just a few of the comments we received.
And I’m not sharing these to brag and sound like an asshole.
I’m sharing these because they are a testament to what can happen when moms put their insecurities and egos aside, pool their talents and work together.
Amazing things can happen.
I know, because I was a part of something pretty amazing last week and in the weeks that led up to the performance.
So this is my call out to all of my fellow moms.
Rather than comparing and focusing on your weaknesses, rather than beating yourself up and looking at all the things you think you can’t do as well as Karen, focus on the things you bring to the table that you do really well.
Look at Queer Eye, for crying out loud.
That is the perfect example of what I’m talking about.
You have 5 dudes who all have different talents.
They could all compete with each other.
Antoni could try and outdo Jonathon in the grooming department.
Karamo could be like, “I’m gonna completely ignore Bobby because he’s more talented than I am with interior design.”
But instead, they pool their talents and they work with their strengths and they completely transform lives.
Moms have the power to do that too.
So the next time you are about to beat yourself up for not being able to do something as well as Johnny’s mom, instead, look at it from the collective viewpoint.
Not, I’m such a failure. I could never do that. I feel so inadequate.
Wow. IMAGINE HOW MUCH ASS WE COULD KICK IF WE WORKED ON SOMETHING TOGETHER!!!
That’s how big things materialize.
That’s how lives are transformed.
And that’s the kind of stuff moms can make happen every day.
As long as we appreciate all our individual strengths, and as long as we all work together.