The Comparison Trap

Anyone else checking out Labor Day sales online this weekend? While browsing yesterday, I came upon this gorgeous image of a faux fiddle leaf fig (left, obviously), and it stopped me in my tracks. So GREEN! So LUSH! So SYMMETRICAL! So TRENDY! Images like these are what I had in mind when I bought my own, real fiddle leaf about a year and a half ago.

Fast forward to today, and here she is (on the right. Again, obviously). Her leaves have been munched on by a sneaky caterpillar that got into my house somehow about six months ago, several branches are broken from the time my kids used her as a jungle backdrop for a wedding between a Calico Critter and a PJ Mask, and her trunk is more than a little lopsided from a bout of root rot followed by a clumsy, amateur repotting job by me and my husband.

She looks nothing like the ideal I’d envisioned, and I felt like a plant-mom failure for a long time. When I scrolled by this gorgeous faux tree (which is *not* on sale for Labor Day weekend, in case you’re wondering), it hit me - the ideal is not real! It’s unattainable, because it’s fake. That’s why you buy the fake tree - so it will always be perfect. So I decided to look at my tree for exactly who she is - a well-loved, strong, resilient warrior who has been through a lot and still keeps growing through it all.

When we compare ourselves to other moms, we’re doing exactly this - seeing a perfect ideal, deciding we SHOULD be able to attain it, and when we don’t (because it’s unattainable and literally no person ever can attain perfection), we feel like failures.

Yes, that other mom might have gorgeous selfies with her baby on social media, but maybe she needed to do full hair and makeup to feel like a human that day because she was up all night with that baby and she was feeling like a zombie. Yes, that other mom might volunteer five batches of homemade brownies at every bake sale, but maybe rage baking is how she blows off steam. Yes, that mom might have a perfect fiddle leaf fig in her front hallway, but maybe that’s because caring for her plants is the one part of her life that feels within her control right now.

You aren’t perfect. Neither is she! We all have munched leaves, and broken branches, and lopsided trunks, and these are among the things that make us our gorgeous, fascinating, imperfect selves. One great way to avoid the Comparison Trap? Reach out to the mom you're measuring yourself against, and ask her how she's *really* doing. You may need to start by telling her how you're *really* doing, so she knows you're here for the honest answer. You may find that by sharing your imperfections with each other, you'll both feel more connected, more genuine, and more comfortable in just being yourselves. What’s one part of yourself that you can embrace today?

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