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Don't Get Caught Up in Comparisons

I spend a lot of time online -- more than I should perhaps. One of my favorite online activities is reading blogs. Since you're reading this, chances are fair that you're a fan of blog reading as well. As much as I love reading them, I sometimes wonder if they are tempting us to hold ourselves to standards that are much too high. I'll see photos of gorgeous mantels, tablescapes, and beautifully-prepared dishes, and next thing I know, those feelings of inferiority start to creep in.

And then there is the whole yard and flowers thing; I'd love to profess that I was a wonderful gardener prior to my injury, but the reality is that I've just never really been into gardening. I couldn't tell you the difference between poison ivy and Virginia creeper if my life depended on it. My sole experience with landscaping took place during Hubs' remote to Korea. After a disastrous battle with a weed whacker (that may or may not have involved an overseas phone call involving tears, followed up by another phone call to my Daddy complete with more tears), I finally killed what little grass I hadn't already massacred, covered that whole fenced-in area with landscape rock, set out a few potted plants, and called it a day. Of course, I had chosen white rock, so every time it rained, there was this odd-looking chalky white runoff, but at least I wasn't endangering innocent bystanders with my (lack of) weed whacker skills.

And let's not forget all the super moms out there. You know who you are. You started planning your child's Halloween costume last March instead of last night. Your children's teachers count on you to provide holiday goody bags (complete with organic lollipops and educational toys). You know not just your children's activity schedules, but those of the neighbors' children as well, since you're the one who creates the monthly carpool schedule. It's color-coded and laminated, of course.

Then there are the Martha Stewart types. In your home, planning meals is a weekly activity for you; no blank stare gazing into the freezer is ever necessary. There are no "Honey, can you stop at the Commissary on your way home?" phone calls in your family. Oh, no. After you made that weekly meal plan, you created a grocery list, then headed off to shop the next day -- neatly organized coupon binder in hand, of course. After you work on your latest trash-to-treasure transformation, you start on dinner, being sure to take photographs of every step so that you can demonstrate to the rest of us how it's done.

And don't worry, I didn't forget about you. You're the one power-walking through the neighborhood in your Juicy sweats, ponytail swinging pertly behind you. In case you missed me, I'm the one desperately trying to convince myself that my raggedy college sweatshirt qualifies as exercise wear. Your perfect little body wouldn't dare sweat; you simply glow. You shop in the juniors' department, while I try to convince myself that if I cut the size tag out of my pants, they somehow won't still be that size.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you identify with one or more of the scenarios? (Please tell me I'm not the only one who identifies with ALL of them!) Next time you're tempted to let that self-doubt get hold, take a reality check: most likely behind those gorgeous glossy photos on the internet likely lies a woman just like you or me, with the same piles of dirty dishes and unfolded laundry, the same never-ending to do list and the same 24 hours in her day. Perhaps your impossibly fit neighbor with the gorgeous yard is envious of your children, and would trade her perfect body and yard for your fertility in a heartbeat. It could be that your fabulously artistic friend struggles internally with a learning disorder that keeps her from being able to produce those meal plans that you whip out so easily. And maybe the woman who seems to have it all together is barely hanging on.

Bottom line? We're all in this military sisterhood together. Don't underestimate yourself. The rest of us don't, and we're sitting back watching you in wonder, trying to figure out how it is that you do what you do.

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