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Every time I turn the last corner in our local Kroger, I dread checkout. Yes, one because I’m about to spend a small fortune, but also because…ya’ll, those poor people having to check me out and bag my groceries. I know they roll their eyes when they see me coming. Somehow, more times than not, I land in the line of the female bagger. She always insists on taking my groceries to the car for me, and just before we exit the line, she tells the cashier that she’s running away with me.
I know her by name, and she asks questions and shares her own struggles from time to time. The first time she heard that I am a mom of 7 and quite obviously expecting again, her eyes–like most everyone’s–bulged out before she could stop them! She was very interested in the logistics and ages and all that stuff. And then as she loaded my groceries along side me, she said, “I don’t know how you do it. I have a hard time, and I just have one.”
It made my heart sink as she told me her story, but I saw the pride in her eyes as she told me about her son’s antics and bragged on how smart he is. I looked at her and said, “Don’t think that having “just” one kid is supposed to somehow be easy.” She’s a single mom, working full-time, and she goes to college. How can that possibly be considered “easy”?
The Comparison Game
It goes back to the comparison game. We look at one another’s best and compare what we know is our worst to it. It’s not fair to either woman.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”We look at one another’s best and compare what we know is our worst to it. ” quote=”We look at one another’s best and compare what we know is our worst to it. ” theme=”style2″]
In Kroger, I usually have my game on. I’m nice and somewhat poised–at least until the checkout line, where I’m then sweating circles under my arms! Even if I have kids with me, and they have gone completely nuts, I have my junk together…until we get to the car. My friend is seeing me holding it all together for that few minutes she’s with me.
I hear all the time…
“I only have two and they make me crazy! How do you do it?”
“I just homeschool my one. How do you teach six kids?”
“There are only four of us, and my grocery bill is outrageous!”
Stop limiting your experience!
The list of onlys and justs could go on forever. But we have to stop limiting our experience. The fact that you have two kids and I have 7 doesn’t make your life less hard. You may be dealing with other things that I have no idea about like chronic illness or an unsupportive husband.
I read a blog post not too long about about miscarriage and pregnancy loss. The author pointed out how we tend to say, “I had a miscarriage, too, but I was only 6 weeks.” Ladies, as if 6 weeks was nothing! It was a life, a baby already loved, and in its absence, a heartache that feels it will never go away.
When we give our experience limiting words like “just” or “only,” we minimize what we are going through, what the Lord has called us to.
Stop Letting Just and Only Define You
Yes, I have 7 kids. We homeschool. Yes, I’m pregnant for the 10th time [to clarify: 1 adopted, 6 bios, 3 miscarriages, 32 weeks preggers now]. But, I’m anything but a great mom or good teacher sometimes. I get frustrated and do stupid stuff like throw hairspray cans down the hallway. That actually happened years ago when I “only” had two kids! See. I was just as crazy then as I am now! (Don’t worry, no kids or husband were in the line of fire!)
Our paths, our callings, our convictions are different. We have to stop comparing them. They really are never going to look the same. It’s wonderful to gain insight from other moms. Truthfully, without the inspiration of other moms from time to time, I’d be lost. However, the comparison and limiting views about our experiences need to go.
It’s like we use “just” and “only” apologetically or in a somewhat defeated manner. Instead, own it: “Wow! I have two kids, and I’m crazy. That woman with her 7 must be off the chain sometimes!” Guess what, that probably wouldn’t be too far from the truth! 😉
Stop feeling less than or sorry that you don’t compare. Instead, embrace where the Lord has you now! And remember that what you see of me, or any other mom for that matter, in public is my best.