We all do it. We watch other women with their offspring and compare ourselves. But why do we compare?
Comparing has its advantages. The thing we want from it is reassurance. When we see mothers operating in the same way we do, it is reassuring and helps us confirm our actions. When we see mothers doing things in a manor we would not, then it can reassure us too. It helps us feel okay about the choices we make by comparison. But that is not the whole story.
There are times that we compare, however, and in our minds we come up wanting. In fact, the women I interviewed spoke of this a lot. So many told me of feeling like they were letting down their children in some way because they could see another mother doing something different to them. That difference they judged as better.
It can be the smallest thing to someone else but discovering that another mother always cooks her babies puree from scratch, when we don’t, can leave us questioning our choices. Or meeting a family who’s school children do extra homework when we find it enough to do the required amount, provokes fears of our children lagging behind. And the causes of the guilt are not always straight forward. A working mum may feel guilty when faced with a stay-at-home mum. But that a stay-at-home mum might be feeling guilty when faced with the working mum.
The thing is that it is human to compare. We are social animals and understanding difference tells us a lot about ourselves.
Learning about ourselves through our own judgements
Our judgements of others tell us more about ourselves than they do about the people we are judging. They reflect the internal rules that we live by. If someone routinely judges people on their looks then they have strong internal rules about how they should look. If someone judges people on their education or lack of it, then they have strong internal rules about displaying intelligence.Our judgements tell us more about ourselves than they do the people we are judging Click To Tweet
Going through the process of being a mother teaches us so much about children but also about ourselves. For most of us the journey through motherhood teaches us to be more flexible. Babies and children challenge the internal rules that we have in so many ways. We find ourselves making shortcuts and doing things we never expected we would do. It may be that we have always prided ourselves on being tidy which we managed for a while but at some point it went out of the window, often with a second child. It may be that we would see a mother shouting at her children and we knew categorically that when we had children that we would never do that, only to find that we are that women who has nearly lost it in the supermarket.The kinder we are to ourselves, the kinder we will be to others Click To Tweet
As we become more flexible however, we find an interesting thing, we automatically judge people less. As we are more flexible with ourselves, giving ourselves more choice and freedom, then we are more flexible in our reactions to other people. Of course, there will always be judgements and there is nothing wrong in that. It is just that the kinder we are to ourselves, the kinder we are to others. When we can give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, then so can we give the benefit of the doubt to the people in our lives. It may be that the mum in the shop losing her temper is a far from an ideal mother but it may just be a very bad day where she has been tested repeatedly by her kids and she has had to draw the line.
Do you compare yourselves to other mums? How is that? What has changed in your judgements over the time you have been a mother? I would love to know how it has been for you.
So what is next?
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