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I Got in the Carpool Line in My Pajamas

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It was one of those school mornings where nothing was going smoothly. I was driving in the preschool drop-off line when I realized I was still wearing my pajamas. Not normally a terrible thing.  At least I don’t have to get out of the car, I told myself. But did I mention it was one of those mornings where nothing went right? Not only did I have to get out of the car, I had to drag my son literally kicking and screaming into the building! If only I had been wearing the cute pj’s that you take Christmas morning pictures in. Unfortunately, I was wearing my 10-year-old ratty pajamas. I walked back to my car avoiding eye contact with the other parents, repeating the childish mantra, If I can’t see them, they can’t see me!

I can only imagine what the other parents were thinking when they saw me. I’d like to think that they sympathized with me and had an Aww! Been there done that>moment. But I know it’s human nature to fill in the blanks about the lives of the people we observe, and it’s not always positive!

It seems that any time we are surrounded by other parents, especially other moms, we start comparing ourselves. We see the mom that always has her hair done to perfection, wearing the latest trends, and assume she must have a nanny at home because ain’t nobody got time for that!  Or, we see the mom who looks constantly frazzled with kids running around like crazy without any discipline and think she must be a terrible parent.

When we fill in the blanks about other people, we are unconsciously assessing our comparable value. Unfortunately, by comparing, we are harming our sense of self and unfairly judging others. So how can you stop comparing yourself to others? Here are four ideas!

1. Be observant.

Become aware of when you start filling in the blanks on others. When and where does it happen most? For me, it’s when I am surrounded by other moms that I do not know, often at school events or extracurricular activities. Since I have no idea what their lives are like, I immediately start filling in the blanks based on nothing but conjecture.

2. How do you compare?

Do you usually feel superior or inferior of those other moms? For me, I often feel inferior. I sometimes believe the lie that every other mom knows what they are doing and is doing it better! If you often feel superior, assess your fear of making mistakes which could contribute to an unconscious desire to only examine people who are struggling, to compare yourself to. Then try to figure out the reasons for your discontent with your own life. 

3. Come back to reality.

We are all fallible and will never be perfect! There will be great parenting days and terrible parenting days. When observing others, keep this mind. And when comparing yourself, be intentional about being balanced in your evaluation. Offer yourself grace and truth in healthy doses.

4. Find a village.

There is so much value that comes from being with other moms who support, love, laugh and offer healthy wisdom. Whether it’s here at, joining a MOPS group, PTA at your kid’s school, women’s ministry at a church, or meeting your neighbors for coffee, having a group of other moms who can both praise your successes and laugh with you at your mistakes is priceless encouragement. So who in your life do you compare yourself to?

Paige Clingenpeel is a licensed teen therapist and has worked on TV, radio, and web-based media. Her passion is creating health, hope, and humor for youth and their families.


What embarrassing situation have you been caught in?

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