Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How Do You View Yourself?

I have been really quiet lately in the blog world. The slow pace of my life in winter has that effect but the lull also seems to be extending into the realm of the internet usage. For example, I quit a web forum that I had been actively participating in for a few years now, stopped reading so many blogs and making comments and haven't been as active on Facebook. For whatever reason I feel the need to make my interactions count and I have been feeling that my interactions on the internet are mostly shallow. On the flip side I have been writing more thank you notes and trying to encourage others.  I have spent a lot of time knitting and consequently pondering on my life, blessings and struggles.

One of the things I have been learning on this journey of introspection is to stop viewing myself in relation to others. It is a constant struggle for me. Probably the most difficult thing is seeing the families of my friends grow while ours stubbornly remains the same size. The other day my friend asked me if I would be fulfilled with having just Ravenna. At the time I said "yes" but added that of course I would still like to have more children. Later a familiar nagging thought crept into my brain: "But if I don't have any more children I will never be a real mother." This doesn't come from nowhere, people. I have often been told in conversation with mothers of many children (Have you ever said this?): "Oh, you will understand when you have x many kids" which I took as meaning that I could never understand because I don't have as many children. What a way to feel shafted in the kid department! While my days are full and steady with my one darling child, often I feel guilty because I have so much more time than these women with more children but also guilty because my child is missing out and that is my fault.

Here again we come back to me learning not to view myself in relation to others. I will never understand how those women with such and such number of kids feels because I am not them and they are not me.  If I had five children I might be able to have empathy for the shared struggles of another mother who has the same number but I will never understand how her life is. My life is my own and learning that requires constant reminders to myself that what I accomplish and what I do not has nothing to do with anyone else. I am a real mother if I choose to see myself as one, period.

Motherhood is just one aspect of my comparative inadequacy that I have been dwelling on lately but really this applies to anything in my life: Am I a good enough cook? Does my house look tacky? Is my conversation boring to people? Do I not read enough books? Is there enough romance in my relationship? Do I have a strong enough testimony? All of these questions are about some idea of perfection that does not exist. They have to do with how I perceive other people and their talents and abilities. It isn't bad to want to emulate someone and to be better, but what I need is to be comfortable with myself as I am now and build my questions/goals around that: Do I enjoy the food I cook and does it nourish and sustain my family? Does my home fulfill its purpose? Do I do my best to uplift and connect with people in conversation? Am I getting enjoyment and education out of the books I read? Am I doing my best to be a supportive and loving wife? Am I making an effort to build my relationship with God every day?

The internet is a fabulous tool for self-depreciation. One only has to spend some time blog hopping to see where we just aren't "enough" compared to others. Getting an inferiority complex from viewing Mormon Mommy Blogs may just be my problem so take this for what you will; I have found that taking a step away from the internet to gain perspective on how what I was viewing was affecting my perception of myself and others was a great eye opener and well worth the missed status updates. I want my life to bring me, my family and others joy, so that is what I will focus on from now on. I can promise inferior quality photos, general corniness and probably a lot of stuff that will make you roll your eyes. Enjoy!


  1. I know what you mean... I too find that I am happier when I give myself some distance from the internet. It is so hard not to compare your life to someone elses. When you compare, you're making a judgment, and deciding whether that person is better than you, or the other way around- and that can be destructive to our lives. Life is a journey towards perfection, but life isn't perfect. I'm not perfect. But I can have perfect moments, and so can you! Carrie you are an inspiration to me, and I think you're a very real, and fabulous mother.

  2. I do know what you mean. I got through fits and spurts. sometimes I find the internet a very helpful tool in and life, and sometimes I find t gets in the way of my own personal growth.

    about the children thing - I used to feel that way when I had just Eli. (he was 4.5 when I had Eve) I thought having more kids would make that questioning of my motherhood go away but it never did. b/c all of my friends had atleast 3... now I have 3 and all of my friends have 5 or 6... some have 8 or 9. You know? I don't think unless I have 10 I could feel like I knew a thing or two. or that I was enjoying what it means to be "mother" in that respect.

    But think of it this way. Motherhood ISN'T having lots of children, or having one child. Motherhood is a state of being. It is BEING Mother. whether G-d sends you 1 or 15, your status as mother never changes. You simply mother the children you have. I am NO better a mother b/c I have 3, than you are because you have one nor vice versa. Maybe you do have more "time" than I do outside of your direct mothering responsibilities, but that is because you have a different purpose in this world than I do. It has everything to do with our purpose, and absolutely nothing to do with how we "match up" to others.
    No matter how many kids you are blessed with, you raise them with every ounce of love in you - THAT is what a real mom is! and you are one heck of a Mommy!

  3. I know what you mean about the Internet, blogs especially. I had my little struggle, but thankfully read enough blogs where the authors were brutally honest and let their readers know how imperfect they actually are. I've done the same. It's made me realize that people who seem to be truly amazing have faults, too, and it is just silly to think anyone is better than anyone else.

    Definitely take a break from it if that's what you need. I find I have to get away just so I can get stuff done, gain some perspective, or just be alone with my thoughts!

  4. I agree with everything that onbecomingdevoted said. My favorite quote says: "Having children doesn't make you a mother any more than having a piano makes you a musician." Being a mother is about what is inside of you! I think you are amazing!

    P.S. Congratulations on doing foster care!