Seared in my mind, the moment I realized how different my experience as a mom was compared to other moms. Did you catch the c-word in the previous sentence? Yes, I did it. I COMPARED my parenting to everyone else’s on the planet. I digress. Here is the moment: I was at the pool with my three littles. First there was Joseph, a vivacious, loving, loud, highly intelligent, constantly moving little boy. He alone was like raising 10 boys in one….no kidding. Then there was Phillip, strong-willed, ADD, and a daredevil. Then I had my sweet little girl, sleeping in her stroller.

I remember always having to be 10 steps ahead of my boys. I couldn’t just lounge around the pool. I stood…ready, watching, waiting to step in and redirect the boys’ behavior at any moment. Never able to anticipate what they would do, I had to be on constant alert; especially around a pool. And then it happened, the moment…that moment…when I knew my experience as a mom was really different than most of the women in my neighborhood. A mom of eight…yes, that’s right…eight children, was at the pool too. All of her children were playing in the pool. When she was ready to leave, she stepped to the side of the pool, and calmly stated, “Children, it’s time to go.” And guess what? Each of her children obediently got out of the pool. She only had to ask once…and then one by one, they got out of the pool.

While my jaw dropped, I plopped down in my chair and coveted her kids. “Why can’t my kids be like her kids? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with my kids?” Ouch. I took a parenting punch in the gut that day. I ruminated over and over about how obedient her children were, and how she only had to ask once in a calm, quiet voice. That was not my experience. My boys were not obedient, compliant children. What was wrong with me? What was wrong with my boys?

Now that my children are adults, the truth is…Nothing. Absolutely nothing was wrong with me or my boys. And guess what? My two sons are amazing men; both are Christ-followers, and both have impeccable character, and our daughter is just as amazing. I did a few things really well as a mom and few things I would definitely do differently, but comparing myself to other moms, families, children, was a struggle…AND A BIG WASTE OF TIME.

Both my boys were not the norm. Our oldest, Joseph, who is now married and a youth pastor, struggled as a child with ADHD, sensory issues, and a very high IQ. Unless he was asleep, his impulsivity would keep him moving and me on pins and needles. Our second son, Phillip, while tender-hearted, was strong-willed. He struggled with comprehension. Now, he is in his third year of college. But when he was younger, he was determined to do life on his own terms and not mine…which added to the intensity in our household. But now…they are amazing young men. I wasted so much time wondering if I was doing a good job raising my family and comparing my family to other families. Comparing robs you of so many precious moments. Don’t let comparing take up any of your mental real estate. If this is you, take it from me, it’s a waste of time. Enjoy your children. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your life!

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Julia Mateer

Laughing hard with friends, strong black tea, quiet moments with her husband, are some of Julia's favorite things. One of her greatest joys is having authentic conversations with women about relationships, parenting, and leadership.

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