Yesterday, after starting week 2 of my running plan, I sat on a park bench winded, tired, and ready to go home. As I sat there, I watched this mom and son head towards the playground. The young boy had a stick in hand, and mama quickly scaled the multi-colored fortress to play aliens and space rangers with her son. She shouted from the top of the slide as if she were a kid herself, and everyone around her could tell she was having just as much fun as her son. The young boy soaked it up. He loved the attention, and continued to bring his mom into this imaginary world he had created.
Normally, I would have sat there comparing my mothering skills against her. As women, our competition is found in comparison, and far too often we feel defeated by our own minds because we fail to measure up. For years, I've compared my gifts as a wife to the other young wives around me. I've compared my figure to the shapes of women in magazines. And I've compared my mothering to an unattainable standard. But this time I didn't let my mind do that. For the past few days, instead of focusing on where I don't measure up against all the amazing mamas I know, I've chosen to focus on the things only I can give the girls God gave me.
If you look through the blogging/Instagram world, a lot of women define themselves by *a certain type of* mama or wife. One woman calls herself a wellness mama. Another is the fit mama. And another is the adventurous mama. For one young wife, she is the happy wife. Another the domestication diva. And many more. Each woman's feed is defined by the name that she has chosen for herself. As I have chosen a name for myself, and looked through the different accounts and blogs, I have asked, what do I want to define me as a wife, mom, and woman?
As I sat watching that mama play with her child, it dawned on me- I am not the playful mom. I'm not the mama who finds complete fulfillment in different worlds and messes on my living room floor. At least, I'm not there yet. I am not a wellness mama. I use cleaners that are probably banned from even being spoken of in crunchy mom circles because of the ingredients. I'm not the healthy mom. My kids eat well-balanced meals, with a side of goldfish and weekly donut stops. I am not the adventurous mama. I hate anything that buzzes, always fear coming across a snake, and climbing mountains is on my list of won't dos. And as a wife, it takes me more work than it should to keep up with our home. Cleaning is not something I love. I strive to be a happy wife, but I often push my frustrations and negative thoughts into my husband's ear. I am not the least bit naturally inclined to any of these things, nor will I ever be the best at them.
Martha Washington once said, "The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances." It's easy to sit and pout over all the ways I am not the best as a wife or mother. But in reality, I can't be the best at all things, and my family doesn't need me to be the best at all things. They simply need me to be the best at my things. So instead of sitting in misery, thinking of all the ways I fail, I choose to look beyond my circumstances (the flabby skin and closet of too small clothes, the lack of a degree above my desk, the ways I don't give enough to my girls), letting them go, and I choose a disposition that focuses on my strengths.
I recently took a personality quiz on Facebook, and found out of the 16 personalities, I am "the campaigner" or ENFP. Which basically said, I am curious, observant, enthusiastic, friendly, an excellent communicator, and able to relax. It also said, I am highly emotional, have poor practical skills, find it hard to focus, overthink, get stressed easily, and am too independent. All of these traits are true. And when it comes to my priorities, these traits shine through.
So in an effort to define how I wife and mother, I started listing my priorities in my head. And I quickly found out that while I won't be an excellent wellness mama, fit mama, or adventurous wife-
I am an empowering mama- using curly-haired characters in books to remind my curly-haired daughter she is beautiful. I spend time everyday speaking worth into my girls as I get them dressed. Telling them my favorite parts about them, how beautiful their eyes are, and how proud of them I am.
I am the celebrating mama- who dances and makes up songs every time my child goes potty. I celebrate daddy's arrival every day with hugs, kisses, and dance parties. And I seek to capture it all, celebrating the big, small, and all the moments in between.
I am the dutiful wife- spending my time making sure calendars are organized, bills are paid, and things are done and ready so my husband doesn't have to worry about anything when he comes home from work.
I am the goofy wife- I am not afraid to wiggle and jump into spanx in front of my husband, because we both end up laughing. I call and tell him about my daily misfortunes and goofs because they are too funny not to share.
I am the supporting wife- The wife who tells her husband to keep dreaming as she presses on beside him, making sure his dreams and hopes are fulfilled.
Any energy I spend trying to be any kind of wife or mama that I am not inclined to be, takes away from the things I am best at. Sure, there are things I need to work on. And yes, there are ways I can improve, but if I am going to succeed, then I must find success through the ways in which I am gifted. I am not disciplined enough to keep up this running thing because I simply enjoy it. But I can be that empowering mama for myself, pushing myself to run farther and harder through the positive truths I speak to my own heart.
In the end, the battle of competition and comparison, only leave the mind and heart empty. Instead of leaving that park yesterday feeling guilty because I don't play like that. I left, giving credit to the playful mama and her son, the fit mama who ran on by, and giving credit to myself as my daughter hugged me tight and said, "I am proud of you, mama."
What wife and mama are you? Define your success through the ways in which you are gifted, not in the ways the world tells you. God only created one of you. And He created you with gifts and traits that are the best tools for the people He has given to your care. Be confident in your gifts. Be proud of the wife and mother you are. And know that as long as you are giving the best of yourself, in the ways only you can, you are being the best wife and mama you can be!