How-To Get Past the Perfect Mom Envy

This is the perfect mother to me…..taking the time to read to her children.

Have you ever felt just a little bit inferior when it seems like other mothers or other families have it all figured out? You go to the park with your kids and the woman at the next picnic table has matching folding chairs, matching coolers, cute little snack cups, sweet sandwich holders, color coordinated plates and cups, and all of the food is healthy and the food pyramid is completely represented? Their clothes all match perfectly, not like twins, but they all have a different shade of blue on that would make the best looking picture for the refrigerator. The kids stay clean, the flies never seem to land on their food, and you do not hear screams when there is a bee or when the toddler does not get his way. I could almost live with all of that, but what really added the frosting to my ‘Envy Cake’, was when the mom looked like she had just walked off the cover of Parent magazine. Hair: medium length, straight and simply styled for that ‘just brushed it and went look‘. Nails: short and super white like a French manicure, but not, because there is not a stitch of nail polish on them, they are just naturally that way. Face: perfectly blemish free without foundation or powder, and maybe just a swipe of mascara and lip gloss. Yep, that’s my nightmare.

As a Christian woman who does her best to be good and not have sinful, envious thoughts, I knew that it was wrong for me to sit and glower over at the woman who could not help that she had it all together. I did have enough wits about me to know that appearances can be deceiving, and she might have had a load of troubles in the back of her late model minivan with all the bells and whistles. Most of the time, I could have honestly cared less about what the life of some other family was like, as I was so busy with mine. However, as if envy wasn’t sinful enough, sometimes I engaged in something much worse. On the rare occasion that I did manage to get everything together perfectly, and for some reason I had everything that I needed for every situation that arose (like Band-aids, an extra set of clothes, a wrench….hey I have needed one of those before!), I would sit and gloat. Yep, I was secretly jumping up and down in my mind because I, for once, could be the envy of other mothers. That was really Christian-like, huh?

That is my point here folks, that no one is perfect. Everyone sins and a problem with envy is a natural human tendency. Yet, this problem is usually a warning sign that you need to work harder in some area of your life, or that you need to change a bad habit or create a good one. I needed to do both, but it took some growing up first. Now, I am a little bit older, and a little bit wiser (by reading the Word), and I came up with a system to destroy my ‘Envy Cake’. Now, I rarely eat a piece of that vile, little dessert, but that doesn’t mean I can always control the urge to lick the icing every now and again!

Here is my ‘Almost Fool-Proof Method of Overcoming Mom Envy’ system:

1. Pray. Then Pray some more. It is so wonderful that God knows everything there is to know about us, yet forgives us and loves us anyways. On the other hand, it is a shame that the Devil knows us too, and uses every weakness as a weapon to destroy us. I just tell the Devil to leave me alone, and ask for God’s help. Once I realized on my walk with Christ that I cannot do even the smallest task without His help, my life has been so much easier. Just ask, and He will deliver!

2. Go talk to the person that you are envying. You will almost always find that she is just like you. All mothers have insecurities about whether they are doing a good job. She might even share her tips for keeping it all together, and ask you for your tips too.

3. Be friendly. In today’s world, most people keep their heads down and stay to themselves. That is sort of a lonely and sad way to live, so it’s no wonder that we sit back and judge each other…..we have nothing else to do! Get off that picnic bench, and make a small party into a big one! There is no better place to meet other moms, then by introducing yourselves while your kids play. You might make a lasting friendship that you never could have made if you stayed glued to your chair out of fear of rejection.

4. Accept yourself. I will never be a ‘natural beauty’. Yes, I know that God thinks I am beautiful and my husband and family thinks that I am beautiful, but I also know that a little help is needed in the outward appearance department. However, as I have gotten older, those things do not mean as much to me. I would rather someone say that I am beautiful on the inside any day, as opposed to saying I am attractive on the outside. While being neat, clean, and feminine is still important to me, I do not stress over the perfect haircut or the most fashionable clothes.
5. Accept and help others. If you want other people to love you for you, warts and all, then it is necessary for you to love other people’s warts as well. Instead of looking down your nose at them because your picnic experience is going off without a hitch and they are struggling, get up and go help them…..now! Not in a condescending way, but as a sister or brother in Christ. We are all in this together, this human walk with Christ, so help each other. God will not care if you have matching Tupperware, but He will care if you help those in need, even if it is to help serve PB and J’s to 3 children under the age of five. Remember, you could make a life long friend.

6. Forgive. If you finally fight and win over your nerves, walk over to another mother, only to be coldly rejected…..remember to forgive. When people are mean, nasty, indifferent, or ridiculing, there are usually deep seated insecurities at play there. Give a polite goodbye, humbly walk away, and pray the whole time you are walking back to your table. I will not lie and say that this has never happened to me, but I will say that that same person who was rude to me upon introduction one day, has come back another day with regrets and apologies. Besides, it is good practice. Striving to be like Christ is hard work, so if we have to take a slap in the face every now and again, or get served humble pie on occasion, it is still nothing like getting nailed to a cross, right?

7. Be honest with yourself. Ah, the hardest part I saved for last. For me, being honest meant a wake up call and a good long look in the mirror. What I envied the most about the presumed Super Mom’s skills was not just their picture-perfect picnics, but their organization. I wanted a big helping of those type of skills, and after hard-work, discipline, and lots of prayers, I finally got it. I started getting up earlier (to have time to prepare without being stressed out by time), I began to think ahead by preparing snacks and meals, packing an oopsy bag with extra clothes and a towel, and stocking the first aid kit all the night before so there is no running around the next morning. Those things helped tremendously, but the true help came from praying for the skills that I needed and the discipline that is required to be well organized. A good book on the subject never hurts either, and the book I used was Managers of Their Home’s which you can find here: http://www.titus2.com/ecommerce/products/prod_listing.php/1100

So, the next time you find yourself being envious of other mom’s don’t forget to pray and maybe my Almost Fool-Proof Method of Overcoming Mom Envy’ system will help you too. Remember, no one can do a better job of being your children’s mother but you, no one. God hand-picked us to nurture and love the miracles that He gave us, and let’s face it, he knows what He’s doing!

Here is a very inspiring verse that I found that not only makes you want to get organized for a picnic with the kiddies, but in life:

Matthew 24:44-51
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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