Do you know the Fleetwood Mac song, “Go Your Own Way”? I like to change up one word in the chorus and sing, “You can mom your own way! Mom your own way!” This is what I sing whenever I find myself looking at another mom who does something differently than I do and I start comparing myself to her—for good or for bad.
Whether I’m looking at an Instagram post of a mom who’s using cloth diapers, chatting with a mom at the park on a Saturday who loves her full-time corporate job, or sitting with my kids at Chick-fil-A and watching moms walk into Whole Foods across the street, if those thoughts of comparison creep in, I start (silently) singing, “You can mom your own way!”
Today I’m giving myself—and you—permission to ditch whatever ideal you had, stop looking at how someone else does it, and instead just do it your own way. Embrace it. Be authentic to you. Here are some ways this has played out for me.
It’s OK to do whatever works for now.
Before becoming a mother, I swore I would never serve leftovers or cereal for dinner—two things my own mother did when I was growing up. But you know what? I’ve done both of those things, plenty of times!
In the past, I’ve gotten so frustrated with myself for failing in this area because I really want to make yummy, healthy meals for my family every night. But my reality is that I don’t enjoy grocery shopping, and I’m often so exhausted at the end of the day I just don’t have the energy to cook. But my husband and I still want to have a home-cooked meal for dinner.
So what works for now is to use a meal planning and food delivery service. Part of me still thinks it’s lame I can’t just do it on my own, like so many other moms I know. But then I look at the stress and frustration it causes me and I remember, I can do this my own way. And let me tell you, using this delivery service works really, really well for us right now.
I love choosing my meals for each week in less than five minutes from my phone. My husband has taken on more of the cooking because the recipes are straightforward and he knows all the ingredients are there. And we’re both super satisfied because the food is seriously yum-o!
It’s OK to change your ideal.
I had always dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). My mom was not a SAHM but all my friends’ moms were, and I fell into the grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side mentality. I really thought that when I grew up I would love to stay home with my children. I thought I hated working, so being a SAHM was the be-all and end-all.
But it wasn’t. At least not for me. I discovered I actually really do like working, I just prefer being my own boss. I didn’t want to be a SAHM. I wanted to be a work-at-home mom! Having our first daughter prompted me to look for opportunities to work from home so I could have more time with her, still have something for me, and earn an income for my family.
Even though I didn’t have any special training, I realized I could start freelancing as a virtual assistant. I could choose what types of clients I wanted to work with, I could set my own rates and availability, and I could balance all of this in a way that worked for me and my family.
This isn’t what I ever expected to do. It wasn’t what I thought my ideal was. But I’ve learned it’s what fulfills me, so I’m embracing it.
Last, it’s OK to have your own dreams.
I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to lose myself in all the demands of my kids, the necessities of life, and the images I see in the media. Sometimes it’s hard to remember my own dreams and aspirations. I look through my Instagram feed and see happy, beautiful faces and start thinking that whatever they’re doing is my dream. But is it really?
When I was working as a teacher after my daughter was born, I wanted to be home with her so badly. I hated getting up early, rushing her to daycare, trying to leave work as soon as possible, rushing to pick her up, having more work to do at home in the evenings, and just being exhausted. There had to be something better. I wasn’t willing to settle. I had a dream of being able to provide for my family and still have time with my kids.
I didn’t find it, initially. I had a couple of failed business attempts. But I worked hard—crazy hard—because this was my dream. And once I found freelancing as a virtual assistant, I felt so much more fulfilled. I learned that I need to consider what I want out of life and to go for it.
As moms, we often focus so much on everyone else. But if we allow ourselves to dream—even if it’s just dreaming about a peaceful bubble bath alone—and we work toward those dreams, we will feel more fulfilled.
The comparison trap is so easy to fall into, especially with everyone posting their highlights on social media. I’ve had to work hard to fight this trap, and I still struggle with it every day. But I truly believe these three things:
We’re all doing our personal best right now.
There isn’t one right way to parent.
And we need to look out for each other and lift each other up as much as possible.
Let’s not get bogged down by ideals, comparisons, and imposed expectations. My wish is that we’ll give ourselves grace and trust ourselves to mom in whatever way works for us. And whatever that way is, as long as it includes loving our children, it’s the right way.
QUESTION: How do you find the confidence to “mom your own way” when you see others doing things differently?
CHALLENGE: The next time thoughts of comparison creep into your mind, say to yourself, “You can mom your own way!” And then do just that—trust yourself to mom in the way that works best for you in that moment.
Edited by Ashley Dickson.
Image provided by the author.