The Mom Comparison Game

A few weeks ago I went to a play date at another mom’s home. Let’s call her Fancy Friend. She’s a lovely mom, and we’d had quite a few play dates before our trip to her house: a few at neutral places and one at my house.

When Fancy Friend and her sweet littles came to my house, I made lunch for the kids. It was just mac-n-cheese (ahem, from scratch), because that’s really all my kids want whenever I allow them to have it, and it’s easy so I can make it without sacrificing visiting time with my friend. I think I had some intention of throwing together a salad for us moms to eat, but I didn’t quite get to it that day, so Fancy and I ate some mac-n-cheese too. We had a fun play date. It was good.

Everything was good.

Until I went for a play date at her house. Um, can I just say that she went all out with three different things for the kids to eat for lunch, plus a separate lunch for us moms, which she prepared with my preference for paleo food in mind, plus she baked stuff!!!! Some yummy fluffy pastry things and an almond torte or something like that. I mean, it was fancy. What the heck?

Ugh. So now I’m kind of mad at Fancy, because I just felt like such. a. loser. the whole time I was at her house. I mean, she fed us awesome, delicious food with our dietary preferences in mind and used her OVEN in the process. Who does that?

Just kidding. I’m not at all mad at Fancy Friend. Because that would be ridiculous. But. I did feel like a loser while at her house. I was kicking myself the entire time. “Geez, why didn’t I bake something when they came over? I should have served fresh fruit on the side with the mac-n-cheese. Look at how freaking domestic she is!”


Anyway, after that play date, I started thinking about how I sometimes compare myself to other moms. It’s not a game of “I’m-better-than-her.” Oh no. When I get into the Mom Comparison Game, I tend to find myself lacking. I get this vague sort of guilty/not-good-enough feeling that sucks and is totally stupid.

It is totally stupid. But I do it anyway.

So, after my fun play date at Fancy’s house I started wondering why in the heck I do that comparison thing.

And here’s what I figured out:

I am surrounded by amazing moms.

It’s true. Friends, family, acquaintances… So many wonderful mothers cross my path or go through my mind on a daily basis. So I can’t help it.

I sometimes look at my friends who are mothering little ones right along with me, and I think that they seem to have it together so much more than I do.

I see FB updates from acquaintances, and I think they just seem to be awesome at doing the Mom Thing.

Heck, sometimes I see total strangers and think, “Gosh, that mom is really with it. Why don’t I ever….”

Then there are my family members who are done with their mothering-of-small-children years. Comparing myself to these ladies is really not fair, because mostly what I’m comparing myself to in these cases are the Successful-Offspring-Outcomes these moms have as the result of many years of in-the-trenches mothering.

I compare myself to my own mom of course, all. the. time. Or to my Auntie. Or even to people whom I never actually observed directly as mothers of small children, like my Mother-in-Law, or my Grandma, or my husband’s aunt who has five awesome young-adult daughters and I totally want to be like her.

The end result for these moms is pretty darn great, so for some reason I feel the need to wonder “Why can’t I be more like them???”

Weird, right?

I know. I find it so odd that I look at these wonderful women who surround me and somehow end up feeling like I’m not quite up to snuff.

I’m not like this all the time. Most of the time I feel pretty confident that I am doing a darn good job being Mom to my sweet girls. I’m not perfect by any means, but I’m good.


Still, I have times of insecurity. The job of Mom is so darned important, and it really can be disastrous if you screw it up. My mother-in-law often quotes Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as having said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”

So. True.

And so much freaking pressure!!

So yes, I tend to compare, and sometimes think myself lacking.

I used to get annoyed with myself about this, because it’s not productive.


But then I realized that insecurity is only bad if you let it limit your life. Almost everyone has some moments of insecurity. The important thing is recognizing these for what they are and not getting all uptight about them, right?

I mean, if I look at other moms and think about how they might be doing or have done things better than me, and then I freak out and throw a pity party and think I’m the worst mother ever and leave it at that, well then I’m letting insecurity make me miserable. And that will probably make my children miserable too.

Or if I feel insecure when looking at how good another mom is and blame that on her, as in, “OMG, I can’t believe Fancy Friend made all that delicious food! Now my kids are going to think they should get a meal like that every day. She is soooo inconsiderate. And I know she was just trying to make me feel like a loser after I only made mac-n-cheese. What a jerk. My kids are going to think she’s a better mom than me. We are never coming here again.” Well. That just wouldn’t be very beneficial to anyone.

So instead, what I learned from my little introspective journey into the Mom Comparison Game is that I should be grateful for the fact that I have so many wonderful moms around me. I learn from other moms every day, as well as from my own experiences. I have decades of mothering experience in those around me. I choose to think of it as an awesome foundation, rather than as something that makes me feel small in my short little four years of motherhood.

I think that helps me to be a good mom and to continue becoming a better mom all the time.

I’m still not likely to bake from scratch for play dates though.


P.S. My sweet Lass is turning 3 on Saturday. I am throwing my first ever birthday party at our home, with other kids and games and stuff. I’m terrified. So I will be spending the next 48 hours going totally overboard with crafting and organizing The Most-Fun-Horse-Themed-Birthday-Party-Ever-for-a-Girl-Who-Now-Wants-an-Okapi-Party. Yes, you read that right.

So I won’t be posting tomorrow. I will share the details of the party ASAP though. It’s gonna be good.


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5 thoughts on “The Mom Comparison Game

  1. You’re joking, right? You’re an absolutely wonderful, loving mom who couldn’t be more devoted to your beautiful little girls. IMO you’ve got it pretty much nailed , girl!
    The baking thing is genetic.
    Love you all,
    (BTW, what’s an Okapi???)

  2. Good luck with the party!
    And I’m totally with you on the mom comparison, and like you, I’m always on the losing side, but I’m slowly getting better at not worrying about it and enjoying my time with my other mommy friends.

  3. I am one of those moms that bakes for playdates 🙂 However, I do it so that I can feel that other people think that I am doing a great job at being a mom. So that might be what your friend is thinking. She was probably feeling the same way as you, she was just trying to make up for the feelings by baking. I think we all feel inadequate at times, it’s part of being a mom 🙂

    • I totally agree Ann. And for the record, I truly don’t have any issue with moms baking for play dates 😉 I thought she was pretty awesome for it actually.

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