Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.
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Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Good
I’m going to be honest. At the end of December I was not in a good place. I was unhappy with everything — my home, my relationship with everyone in my life, my spiritual life, my performance at work. Everything. I felt really bad about how I was doing all around. I just kept playing these scenes over and over in my head about times I had screwed up or done something to offend someone or said the wrong thing. I couldn’t get these conversations out of my head.
On my first day of vacation I just couldn’t shake this cloud that was hanging over me. So as I usually do when I’m feeling crummy, I decided to poke around the Internet for something interesting to read to get my mind off of myself. Whoa, did that make everything worse. I read about a mom who homeschools her kids and built a kiln in their backyard to teach them about chemistry and how it applies to pottery and glazing. Then I read about a Notre Dame grad with a beautiful family who is home with them full time, has a really successful sewing business, has great style, and has one of the prettiest blogs I’ve seen. Not to mention she makes her kids really cute clothes. Then there was the mom that was showing her luscious garden and all the beautiful food her family ate from it. I read about a mom who cooks every single meal her family eats and only eats out once a year. Then, to top it off, I read a blog about a mom who had just finished reorganizing and redoing the last room in her house and was showing the befores and afters of her whole home. I remember sitting in our living room with our laptop and Brandon sitting across the room reading. I’m pretty sure that I audibly screamed, slammed the laptop shut, and ran to the closest sugary snack I could find.
I couldn’t admire these women’s accomplishments. I couldn’t appreciate how wonderful all of these great things were for them and their families. All I could feel was resentment that they have this gig figured out better than me and boiling anger at myself for not being a mom like this. It was not a pretty sight.
Ok, I’m going to get out of the house for a bit. Clear my head. A nice leisurely drive should do it. Hmm, look at those women running. They are so in shape. Ugh, I really need to start running. I am desperate to get this baby weight off. Never mind. Think of something else. Oh, there’s a Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck. That is such a great organization. Oh, wow. There is a mom there with her young daughter handing out sandwiches to the homeless. I should be doing that with Olivia. Why am I just wasting time driving around? We need to volunteer. We don’t help anyone. And on and on. Needless to say, the drive did not help me clear my head.
I finally realized that I just needed to stop comparing myself to every other mom I saw. It is hard enough being myself; I don’t need to add all these unrealistic expectations that I set for myself. I have no idea what trials these women face. I have no idea what has brought them to their current state of life.
Sometimes I forget that God made me to be me. God wants us to see the good that others do and to appreciate it. But we shouldn’t be good exactly the same way another person is good. God calls us to do our own good. God doesn’t keep a tally sheet to see who is doing better than whom. God just wants us to do what God is calling us to do. I just had to keep telling myself this over and over. God wants me to be me, not that other mom who I think is ridiculously amazing. I need to find my own amazing.
And slowly, really slowly, I am not hating other moms for being good moms. And I am working on not hating myself as much for feeling behind the curve. Now I can actually start making a dent in the things I would like to change. I’ve started organizing our house a bit. I’ve started cooking more. I’ve started writing more frequently. Shoot, I have even started running again. Ok, I only ran a couple times but at least my running shoes don’t have cobwebs on them anymore. I stopped just sitting and whining that everyone is doing better than me and realized I was doing pretty good to begin with but changing a few things would not be a bad idea.
It’s so easy to play the comparing game and not realize the good that you are doing. It is easy to start letting a few negative comments and thoughts sit in your head and grow until you’re just plain miserable. These feelings of being inadequate aren’t all bad. It should be a signal to us that we need a change. We need to shake things up. At some point in life everyone can feel like they don’t have anything put together and the rest of the world has figured everything out. But God gave us a community for a reason. It’s good for us to see what others are doing. Not to compare ourselves to them. Not to get lost in the misery of coveting another person’s good. But to learn from each other.