How to Feel Comfortable in Your Own Shoes
When Cricket was three years old, she started taking ballet lessons. Every week the dressing room was a swarm of tiny ballerinas in pink tutus, twirling in the mirror or squirming away from their brush-wielding moms.
During all the confusion I was always drawn to a mom named Ella. She and her three daughters always arrived on time—the first of many reasons she amazed me. Her girls were always well behaved and neatly dressed, wearing shades of light grey and soft pink. Ella herself wore slender jeans tucked in stylish leather boots with a flowing sweater. She seemed so centered and unhurried.
I felt like a slouch next to her. I had only one child to think about, but I showed up for class late, dragging Cricket behind me, both of us dressed in hastily put-together outfits. Inevitably—though I loved to watch Ella and her three girls—I always ended up feeling like I could and should be doing better.
One day I turned to Ella saying, “Three girls, huh? Wow,” or something equally as intelligible. I was about to ask her how she did it. But before I could, she looked up at me with glazed eyes and said, “I have so much laundry to do.”
Then she started rambling on about her baby’s horrible sleep patterns and her guilt over letting her girls eat chicken nuggets in the car. She looked like she was about to cry.
She’s not doing it, I thought to myself. She’s not really perfect—she’s just found a way to hide it.
It’s human nature for people to be self-critical and to assume that others have it all together. For moms, these feelings are magnified—especially when our pre-kid idyllic expectations don’t match the realities of motherhood. Most of us have self-doubts about our parenting skills to begin with. Seeing someone who appears to be a supermom can leave us feeling pretty down on ourselves.
So how can moms stop being too harsh on themselves and their parenting skills? How can we stop assuming that other woman are doing it better, faster, smarter and in better shoes?
F it all!
By that I mean, use the 3-F approach - Find, Forgive and Focus:
Find an empathetic person and vent your frustrations. When Ella started opening up to me, it seemed as if she hadn’t talked with an adult in days. A call, email or text to another mom will remind you that everyone feels angst over not being a perfect parent. And perhaps, the person on the receiving end might be needing to hear the same thing.
Forgive yourself when you slide back into old patterns of self-doubt. Breaking habits—like parenting!—is a life-long process.
Focus on what matters: your relationship with your children. We will never feel as close to perfect as when we are spending time with our children, and truly living in the moment. Squishing your hands in Play-Doh or shooting hoops at the local gym with your teen will quickly take your mind of that mythical other mother.