Women compare themselves, especially mothers.
I know that's a broad statement, but I think it's accurate. Even if we happen to be kind of confident about the way we do things, when we see someone else doing something well, we make a mental note on our list of Things Others Do Better. My own list looks something like this:
- hosting playdates
- staying on top of laundry
- fixing children's hair and making sure they have on socks
- gardening and canning
- wearing make up
- immaculate homes
- time management
- and a million etceteras .....
... which I would like to point out is ridiculous. I could make a list of things I do well, too, but I won't, because for some twisted reason it's a lot easier to list our faults than it is our strengths. I just realized that there is an illogical jump from "others do it better" to "I do it poorly." How silly is it to let another person's strength define our "weakness"?
The universe testifies to us that God's creations are supposed to be different. Consider the following, all cases where despite a quantity of billions and billions, each one is unique and beautiful:
And when God created each thing, despite the fact that they were not all identical, He still "saw that it was good." It was just the way He wanted it. I recently gained some insight into this principle as I thought about three seemingly unrelated doctrines and realized that they had a meaningful connection.
- Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ created a world and populated it to bring about the Plan of Salvation: "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)"
- The Proclamation declares, "the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children."
- All men and women are given different spiritual gifts. "Deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them. (Moroni 10:8)" "For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. (D&C 46:11-12)"
Okay. Is it possible that our Heavenly Father has given us individually exactly the gifts/strengths that we need to bless the family that we have? That He provided us with the specific tools that will help them to reach their eternal potential? The more I thought about it, the more it felt right. Some mothers do things that amaze me, things that I feel like I can't really do ... at least not well. But maybe her gifts are tailored to meet the needs of her particular family. Her gifts bless them, teach them, nurture them in just the ways that they need for their proper spiritual development. I, on the other hand, have different children, different circumstances, and completely different gifts that are custom-made by a perfect Father who knows what my family needs. He equipped me to help my family achieve its eternal destiny, and I'm feeling pretty sure He did that for all of us.
This is why comparing ourselves to each other is fruitless (despite all those apples and oranges references). Yep, you may do lots of things better than I do, and I'm so glad for your family that you do. There are things I do differently, and I know they bless my family. I teach them, love them, lead them in the ways God made me able. There's so much we have in common, all the mothers in the world and me: we are daughters of God, we love and care for His children, and we have His help. And yet, we all do it so differently because we have different gifts. This is why President Monson's recent counsel to stop judging each other and comparing ourselves is so important. (Remember that the process of "judging" always places us either above or below others.)
My dear sisters, each of you is unique. You are different from each other in many ways. ... Such differences are almost endless. Do these differences tempt us to judge one another?
Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this profound truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” The Savior has admonished, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” I ask: Can we love one another, as the Savior has commanded, if we judge each other? And I answer—with Mother Teresa—“No; we cannot.”
I believe our Heavenly Father would rather that we honor one another's gifts and draw strength from them. I believe He wants us to ask about, discover, and develop our own gifts so that we can reach our potential and bless others to our fullest capacity, especially our families. I believe He already knows we do some things "worse" than others do and still sees the beauty in our individuality. I believe He loves us and wants us to do a better job of loving ourselves and loving each other.
"God, who oversees the interlacings of galaxies, stars, and worlds, asks us to confess His hand in our personal lives, too. Have we not been reassured about the fall of one sparrow and that the very hairs of our heads are numbered? God is in the details! Just as the Lord knows all of His vast creations, He also knows and loves each in any crowd—indeed, He knows and loves each and all of mankind!" ~ Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Stephanie is a mom of three young and relentless children. Her interests include Latin music, naps, restaurants, writing, travel, teaching, housework denial and long showers. Stephanie seeks for the divinity in motherhood--- tries to share it when she finds it, and tries to laugh when she doesn't. She blogs for fun, posterity, and therapy. Her musings are chronicled at Diapers and Divinity.