Tuesday, December 11, 2012

20 Days of Getting Real

I have been wrestling with writing this post for almost a week and finally I am sitting down to type.  Last week at MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) a very sweet lady gave a very convicting talk about the comparison trap that we women fall into and the masks we wear as a result.  I am guilty of it.  I have been guilty of it for as long as I can remember.

In elementary school, my group of friends had moms and dads.  I was the only one that lived with her grandparents.  I was ashamed of that until I went to college.  I had a friend, Katie and she was pretty and incredibly smart and she could draw Disney princesses without having to trace them.  I was a good student but not as smart as Katie and I always had to trace the Disney Princesses because when I drew them freehand they resembled Edvard Munch's "The Scream" rather than Jasmine, Ariel or Belle.  Then there was Beth- Beth was creative and artsy and totally an individual.  And I was normal and boring and thought inside the box.  In high school I had friends that were thin and outgoing, beautiful and athletic and, although I loved them, in the back of my mind I always wondered how I fit in with them because I was awkward, clumsy and definitely not thin.   I felt like an outsider that had somehow snuck into their lives and was just waiting to be found out for who I really was.  Once they saw me for who I was they would shun me.  Looking back I know that was my own insecurity and I also know I missed out on really loving them because I was so dang insecure!

Those thoughts kept me in a really hard place of desiring their love and affection but also wanting to keep them at arm's length because I believed, eventually, they would leave me.  Self destructive? Yes. Healthy? No. If you know my childhood does it make sense? Well, yeah.  But the lie that I believed for most of my life was that was just how it had to be.

As a grown woman who has been through counseling I know better.  I am not the same person that I was at 15 or 17 or even 23.  But to say that the comparison trap is dead would be a lie.  The reality is that it's just different things that I can compare nowadays.  House, car, job, kids, income, weight, hair, fashion, etc.

So, here was my challenge- to be real.  To take off my mask and encourage women to take theirs off, too. If we all vowed to be real and to live authentically we could stop comparing and start enjoying each other.  Trish, who spoke at MOPS, said, "Life isn't about fitting in.  It's about connecting with each other."  That just hit my heart.

I have spent too much of my life trying to fit in and counting all the ways I have and continue to fall short.  I missed out on some really sweet relationships because of that and I am done.  So, for the next 20 days I will blog about whatever is really going on- not that I've ever written anything untrue before. But I want to peel away some masks and be free to share with you things that will hopefully break the "Happy, Sunshine, Rainbow" life that gets portrayed in social media.

So, let's start with the one that is freshest in my mind:  I feel like a crappy mom.  We started Sully on rice cereal even though I wanted to hold out and just nurse him until six months.  And I have struggled with thinking that I'm a bad mom because of that.  Even though I know it's what he needed because for four days he was miserable and I couldn't figure out why.  When I called the pediatrician and talked to the nurse she said he might be hungry since crying non stop is so out of his character.  I don't know where I came up with the expectation that I needed to solely nurse him until six months.  I don't know why in my head I think others will look down on me for that.  But I do.  And even though I now have a very happy baby and it's what is best for him, I still have the voice in the back of my mind telling me I failed.

Sully after rice cereal
This is where I can choose to stay.  It's actually really easy.  I could walk into the next MOPS meeting and feel like every mom in there is judging me.  Or this can be the crossroad where I choose to believe that I am being the best mom I can be.  This is where I can choose to walk in grace.

To the woman/mom that can relate to what I've just typed- whether it's about rice cereal or something totally different, let's band together and remember that today is not about fitting in but about connecting.  Maybe you wanted to breastfeed with all your heart and your body just couldn't.  Maybe you wanted to give birth naturally but you broke down and got an epidural or had to have a c-section.  Maybe you haven't lost those extra baby weight pounds or you have and your friends haven't.  Maybe you are walking through a desert season and comparing your life to someone who's in a mountaintop season.  Whatever comparison that runs through your mind when you are around a group of women, take time today to recognize it.  Take time today to lay it aside and connect with someone.

I'll be back tomorrow.  My mask won't.