Inevitably, as soon as children come into our lives, the comparison game begins. In the early days discussions regarding sleeping, eating, and diaper habits consume our conversations. Soon afterwards, we progress to comparing and contrasting the brilliance of our child’s language skills, walking dexterity, or artistic abilities. These conversations can slowly turn from simple observations to divisive competitions. We tend to compete not just in what our children can do, but also in what we can provide. We seek to offer the best nursery décor, strollers, birthday parties, sporting activities, and educational opportunities in hopes of securing everything needed for success and happiness in life. When we race against one another, the motherhood hamster wheel spins faster and faster, leaving us worn and weary in our pursuits.
How can we change our playground interactions from times of discouragement to encouragement? What are some ways we can build up the other mothers in our lives instead of seeking to get ahead in the race? Here are seven ways to combat competition in motherhood:
Consider instead of Compare
It might appear that the best way to avoid competition with others would be to just avoid these sort of discussions all together. However, the reality is that we need one another. Motherhood gets lonely, and we all feel insecure in knowing what to do. Hebrews 10:24-25 instructs, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Rather than look over the fence at another’s life and assume they’re our competition, we have the opportunity to look into their lives and consider how to cheer one another along in the daily demands of motherhood.
Competition in motherhood is always an exercise in futility. The reality for each of us is that we are on a one-of-a-kind motherhood journey. Whether raising boys or girls, toddlers or teenagers, your children are unique and the circumstances you face are yours alone. You may be running your race on terrain quite different from another mother. Would you expect someone on a bike to compete with someone in a car? Rather than spend our days comparing and contrasting the hardships or advantages we face, we can seek to be women who give thanks to the Lord in all our circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 encourages us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Being a thankful mother is a powerful way to be a peace with others.
Abide in the Word
On the eve of His death, Jesus told his disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). We don’t bear fruit by getting ahead of others; we bear fruit by abiding in Jesus. Mothering trends ebb and flow, but God’s word provides a secure foundation on which to build our homes.
Serve with Humility
Even in Biblical times, mothers were concerned about the success of their children. The mother of John and James came to Jesus, requesting, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one a your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). While the other disciples took offense at her request, surprisingly Jesus did not rebuke her for her desire but instructed, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (26). Following the way of Christ and humbly serving others is the path to greatness in motherhood. The upside down way of the gospel is that as we lay our lives down, outdoing one another in showing honor, we find life.
Love One Another
It is easy to look at the different talents and abilities of our friends and feel discouraged, quietly wondering to ourselves if we have anything special to share. Rather than feel threatened by another’s gifts, we can learn to enjoy them when we consider that in Christ, we are all part of the same body. Each member is needed, and every part is of vital importance. 1 Corinthians 12:25 hopes, “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” We are not in competition with one another, we are on the journey together.
Confess and Pray
Some days, we find ourselves in messy motherhood battles. Rather than dig our heels in deeper, we can come out of hiding and confess our struggles. James 5:16 reminds us, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” When we find ourselves in the midst of the mommy wars, the simplest solution is to confess and pray. We approach the throne of grace and find mercy to meet us in our struggles.
Remember Your Purpose
Sometimes in motherhood we miss the forest for the trees. Our goal as mothers is not to raise the most athletic, academic, artistic, or amazing child the world has ever seen. Our hope is to raise children who glorify God in everything they do. As mothers we have the opportunity to live in light of Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Seeking God’s glory, rather than our own brings peace to our hearts and issues a cease-fire in our competition with one another. We don’t have to win in motherhood, because He’s already won an eternal reward for our sakes. We get to rest secure and enjoy the journey.
Melissa Kruger teaches women at Uptown Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and at conferences around the country. Her latest book, Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood, is designed to encourage and equip mothers through every stage of parenting. She regularly writes articles for the Gospel Coalition and Christianity.com, and she is also the author of The Envy of Eve. Her most cherished roles include being a wife to Mike, president of Reformed Theological Seminary–Charlotte, and a mother to her three children.