Dear Mom,

I see the uncertainty in your eyes when you look at your children and life, and I believe I understand what’s happening.

Being a mother is harder than you ever imagined it could be. Oh, there are wonderful moments, but no matter how many times your own mother said things like “Just wait until you have kids,” there’s no way you could imagine just how tough it can be.

You’re probably doing a wonderful job. It’s obvious how much you love your kids. I know you’d do anything you could for them. I see the joy in your eyes when they achieve or discover something, and I notice your tears when they’re hurt, or sad, or sick. Those little things you do for them that you think nobody sees? I see them. Oh, when you talk about their lives, your face lights up and your body language demonstrates such happiness.

Now you’re telling me that you feel like a failure. You don’t think you’re a very good mom. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you just don’t feel like you measure up to what you’re supposed to be.

I might know why. You woke up this morning excited at the beautiful day. The fall weather is made for hoodies and apple cider fun. You immediately started thinking about what you could do with the kids. A picnic in the park? Riding bikes along the trail? Visiting a local orchard? What a perfect day to be a parent, especially during fall break!

That’s when you made a mistake. You opened your phone and spent a half-hour looking through Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. There was Susie and her two beautiful daughters, always in perfectly matched outfits. She has such great taste and her kids always look so cute! They’re on the beach with their beautiful smiles shining brightly. If you put that outfit on your daughter, it would be covered with dirt and dog hair in five minutes.

Oh, and there’s Maribeth, you think. Look at that birthday cake she baked! I wish the stuff I baked looked even half that good. Your cousin Janine’s oldest won another track meet and has accepted a scholarship to her dream school. That’s so exciting. I wonder if my kids will ever be that good at anything. That Emily is so creative! How did she ever turn a piece of scrap wood and silk flowers into such a pretty centerpiece? If I did that, it would look like a pile of scrap wood and fake flowers. And there’s Sarah and her husband — they’re in Aruba this time! It must be nice to be able to afford vacations like that. I mean, I like camping at the state park, but that couples’ resort just looks like a dream…

Do you see what you’re doing? You’re comparing yourself with everyone and everything you see. You did the same thing after Jenny’s soccer match yesterday. It was funny, because you were so happy to see the other moms, but after listening to them boast and brag, somehow you left the conversation feeling … well, kind of less-than enough. Their lives are amazing and yours seems so much less appealing.

But here’s what I want you to know. You’re not comparing yourself to their lives. You’re holding yourself up to what I like to call the “highlight reels.” You’re seeing the small portion of their lives that they display to the outside world. They aren’t telling you about the rest of their days or the challenges they face. You don’t know that Sarah and her husband spent most of that week in Aruba fighting over money. You aren’t aware that Susie’s doctor just prescribed anti-anxiety medicine and she can’t sleep at night. Trust me, the others’ lives are less than perfect, too.

It’s human nature to compare ourselves to those around us, but the trouble is we usually end up comparing our ordinary to their extraordinary, because that’s what we get to see … and that’s what social media is all about. Remember this: comparison is the thief of joy. So, maybe it’s time to pay attention to just how extraordinary your own life is, and what a great mom you really are. Having trouble seeing it? Still thinking you don’t measure up? We know some ways to help. Give us a call, and we’ll help you find the joy you are created to experience. You’re worth living our best version of you, and not comparing yourself to others might be a great first step in that process!

More about April Bordeau 

More about Care to Change and our professionals

Letter to clients

How to know if you need counseling