Sunday, February 6, 2011

I have been a wife for 6 years and 1 1/2 months. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 4 years and 9 months. In that time, I have had hundreds of conversations with women regarding feelings of self-doubt and loathing, failure to measure up, depression, inadequacy, etc. I am extremely troubled by how pervasive these feelings and attitudes seem to be among women. I am troubled that they are deep-seeded in my heart as well.

The thought that keeps coming to my mind is, ENOUGH! Enough of the self-judging, enough of the anxiety to be perfect, enough already! And on the flip side of that, I AM ENOUGH. I am good enough.

Why do we compare ourselves - that person whose weaknesses we know intimately - to the mom at church or at our kid's school who seems to always have it together? You know, the mom who has 10 children but finds time to make some fancy-pants dessert, has children who are always presentable, never raises her voice and always seems to be smiling. I think we should all have a conversation with that woman. Instead of standing in awe from afar and hating ourselves a little more every time she calmly responds to a child having a meltdown whose wiping chocolate all over her neatly-pressed beige slacks, why don't we take the time to get to know her? Sure, she might turn out to really be that awesome, but I am willing to bet that there is something she struggles with that will help you to realize she is, in fact, quite normal; that you are much more similar to her than you ever could have imagined.

Two short stories:

#1: I know such a mom. I was uncomfortable around her all the time. I would see her each week with her four children at our library's story time. She was always on time and her kids sat and listened politely. And there I was with half the amount of children, always late and trying to corral my kids onto the darn mat to pay attention to the nice story time lady. I thought that my perfect-mom-friend must be silently shaking her head at me. One day I mentioned to her how embarrassed I was by this and she said simply, "Well, you should see my house. I left it a mess to get here." I had imagined every aspect of her life to be controlled and perfect. Human, after all. I can't tell you what a relief that was! We've been sincere friends ever since. I still think she rocks, but now I am not judging myself against her all the time...only every once in a while, and most of the time it's a good kind of comparison. (yes, I think there's such a thing and I want to talk about that more in the future)

#2: A few months ago a dear friend of mine was at my house and saw a pizza box on the counter. She let out a sigh of relief and said, "Oh good! I am so glad to see that you get pizza sometimes. I'm not the only one who doesn't make dinner every night." Seriously?! This friend has lived up the street from me for nearly four years and we have spent a great deal of time together. She's thought this whole time that I make dinner from scratch for my family every night? Psssshhh. Not a chance. It would be nice, but not a chance. It really made me think about the image I am portraying in an effort to look like I have it together.

It was just a few days ago that the push to start this blog really started weighing on me. I stood in my kitchen with two good friends, having an all-too-familiar conversation. "I always think, how does she keep her house so clean?" "Why do I struggle getting my two kids to church on time with the help of my husband when she is always on time with three kids and no husband to help?" I asked them, "WHY?! Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we compare our worst selves to another's best?"

I have had similar conversations many times over and we all seem to ask the same question as the conversation draws to a close - why do we compare ourselves like that? - but without any answer. I'm not saying this blog is going to be an answer. I am not a great writer or an expert in any field. I am just a very passionate sista who thinks we should transform the way we, as women, look at ourselves and at others. It's very likely that just my mom, sisters, and a few devoted friends will read this. But maybe, just maybe, a few more will join in and we will build one another and chip away at what I perceive to be a destructive way of thinking.


  1. You are so right about this topic. I can't tell you how many times I've read "Being Enough" by Chieko Okazaki for this exact reason. I totally agree about the getting to know people. I firmly believe that when you don't like somebody, the quickest way to get rid of those feelings is to talk to them, find out about them. Maybe I learned that from you!? It wouldn't be the first thing that rubbed off on me, and hopefully no the last.

  2. i guess i'm a guest here--i'm friends jeff and angie, so i saw the link on his FB. LOVE THIS! I so completely agree in every way. I am looking forward to reading more and joining in the conversation. Thanks!

  3. I love you Dana! Thank you for being you and all the many wonderful conversations we have had over the years! I know there are many more to come! Thanks for the blog post we all as women need it!

  4. I am TOTALLY with you on this one!!! As the years have gone by, I have realized that I really honestly and truly HATED myself. What a horrible thing! As I've talked with other women and moms, it seems like I am in excellent company! It is heartbreaking...

    How many women can accept a compliment when you give one without dismissing it or making some sort of excuse of why that isn't true?

    Our insecurities prevent us from reaching out to each other when we need help the most. We are suspicious of each other or feel "unworthy" around other women/moms who we perceive as better than us.

    Society has taught us to constantly compare our weaknesses to other people's strengths and, of course, when you do that, you are ALWAYS going to come up short!

    This impacts our relationships with other women, with our spouse, and MOST importantly, with our kids!

    Our kids are learning that this kind of self-loathing and insecurity is the norm and is what they should mimic! I don't know about the rest of y'all, but that alone was enough for me to look this ugly beast of self-loathing in the eye and say ENOUGH! I refuse to teach my kids to hate themselves and perpetuate this pattern!

    So, to all you AMAZING moms out there (and EVERYONE is included in that) you are amazing, beautiful, gifted, talented and you are here to change the world in your own unique way!

    Like a symphony, the real beauty is created when everyone sings their song. When even one is silent, the song enjoyed by the world is bereft of your contribution.

    So LOVE yourself! All your bumps, dimples, stretchmarks, bulges, sags, wrinkles, and gray hairs. You are all GODDESSES! Here to create, nurture, love, and whatever else your soul yearns to do.

    You are a beautiful, powerful, amazing woman and we are all here to sing our songs.

    Okay, I guess you can tell I am passionate about this, too... Love ya Dana! Thanks for starting this blog! You should start a fanpage on FB, too! Women need this!

  5. I LOVE this post/blog and what it will do for women! I LOVE you and your willingness to take time out of your busy life to help us all understand and know that we are ENOUGH! :) I am excited for future posts and I'm going to take campblondie's (Kelly's) advice and talk to people I am not sure I like. I've never thought to do that (lame, I know).

  6. Dana this is so crazy. I have wanted to write a blog post just like this. And I have been trying really hard lately not to try and boost myself up around others. It's really too much to live up to. Not that we shouldn't be a good cook or sewer or mom but there shouldn't be pressure to be the best. One of my best friends always just tells it like it is and that is so refreshing to me. Anyway I'm excited to read more.

  7. I've struggled with this for a long time and come to the same conclusion. I will purposely not clean a room or leave dirty dishes when a friend is coming over. Showing friends your struggles and your imperfections gives them permission to share theirs. Thanks!

  8. I was having a conversation with my daughter today and we were talking about the various areas where we often feel inadequate. She said that she often feels that she doesn't do enough. I said, "There are many times I don't feel like I'm enough." She replied, "Mom... that's huge. I said I don't DO enough and you said YOU AREN'T enough. You are enough but sometimes you could probably do more. You need to realize that." I'm 58, she's 30. I think she will have better mental health when she's my age because she's leaps and bounds ahead of me already. Thank you, Danalin, for this blog. I think you will bless many lives.

  9. Yeah for women! I know I've had numerous similar conversations with not only Dana but also a few other women on this blog. I know one reason why we do this to ourselves... it's easy! It's easy to be the victim. It's easy to feel sorry for ourselves. It's easy to give in to the depressing feelings that come when we feel like we are not enough. It takes effort and strength to pull ourselves out of the depths of despair. It's hard to remember our strengths when "Martha Stewart" is at your door. I'll be the first to admit that I compare myself to others around me. I've also had my good moments where I can just sit and "be." I can live in the moment, find peace in knowing that I've done my best. I can be still and know that there is a God that will make up for my short comings. It's a constant battle.

  10. I am so excited you started this Dana!

    I would like to say, I try very hard to keep my house clean (but it is mostly due to the efforts of my husband who does the dishes and cleans up the toys every night~because a clean house is very important to him) and my friends often say in a comparitative tone (does that make sense?) "your house is always so clean!"

    And I have to say that sometimes it make me feel kind of bad or stupid~like I was trying to be better or one-up them. It isn't that hard. I just make cleaning a priority. If you do it (anything) every night it is not that hard. There are plenty of other things I give up doing to have a clean home. I know my friends whose house is not as clean as mine "seems" to be (it is only clean where people see!) are doing so many other things that I am not.

    Why can't we just be inspired by others priorities and hard work instead of thinking it reflects badly on us?

  11. Love this topic! I learned in high school to never judge someone before you get to know them. They might seem to have it all together, but we ALL have our own individual struggles. The only perfect people are the ones you don't know yet. I do have to remind myself not to compare. I have a little boy with Down syndrome, he has taught me a lot about not comparing others, and I am thankful for that. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. I love the comment about the symphony how we all play our own parts, each different and unique. Also I like the comment about "I will purposely not clean a room or leave dirty dishes when a friend is coming over. Showing friends your struggles and your imperfections gives them permission to share theirs." Love this blog. It's always a battle to keep my perspective in check and this conversation is great to keep me on the right path! I'm also a friend of Jeff and Angie :) Thanks guys!

  12. This is a great blog. Keep it up because we all are truly in the same battle. I don't get why comparing comes so easy when I really have had enough! Thanks again.

  13. Dana, thanks for sharing this! We are all so guilty. When I look at the women in my life who are my very best friends, my first impressions of them were "they're so perfect, I can never be as good as them". Then I got to know them, and we're all the same. I have to agree with the comments about the symphony, we need to remember that we're each unique, and that is such a good thing. Mahalo!

  14. Hi Dana,

    I think this is a great idea. Over the years I have observed many similar exchanges between women. I have often compared myself to the women around me. And I think it is very natural. We want to be accepted by our peers. We want to measure up to the standards that are set for us. But at some point or another we get glimpses into the real lives of those women around us and see that our perceptions of others are not always accurate.

    As you know, I have recently left the Mormon church and that is a lot more serious to my church member friends than having a box of pizza on my counter. I knew that by leaving, my friends, family members and acquaintances would no longer think that I was making good choices and as a result would lose their respect for me. It took me several months to tell my parents because I knew it would be very hard for them to accept me as I am. Even though my life is virtually the same, the knowledge that I am not raising my family in the Mormon church makes me less adequate. I am perceived as less responsible, less spiritual, just less in general. In essence... not enough. I might as well have turned into an alien. As long as I was going through the motions, I was respected. But is what I do more important than who I am?

    This has really thrown off a lot of people in my ward. I was not the type of person people expect to leave the church. So naturally, people think that I must be very sad or addicted to something, Neither are true. I experience the full range of human emotions just like everybody else. But overall, I feel better than ever. Now that things have settled down with my family, I have tried to reach out and talk to members in my ward and let them know I'm still me and I still want to be their friend, I just don't adhere to the exact same doctrine anymore. And really, our differences are small compared to what we have in common.

    My point in writing this is to encourage women to not only see beyond minor differences, but major ones too. Could it be that we are all good enough? I hope so.


  15. Dana, I read your blog when you posted it a couple days ago and I've been trying to think of what I'd like to comment... I just can't come up with a comment that's as good as everyone else's! (Just kidding...) Seriously though, I too loved the comment about purposely not cleaning a room as a way of giving others permission to relax and relate a little. Also I'm so grateful for Liz's post because I imagine that you want this to be an inclusive forum (as opposed to an exclusive one), and I've been wondering about how to draw in those who might inherently feel excluded (not anyone's fault...). I think all women struggle on some level with this self-doubting and comparing problem regardless of religion, whether you're home with the kids, a career mom, or you have no children or aren't married. Something about being a woman makes you want to have that validation come from an outside source, but the bottom line is learning how to validate your very own self. "You are enough." It's a great message.

  16. I love this blog! I think that only in just the last few years have I found my answer to this. So I want to share one of my favorite quotes from a Book that Changed my life: He did deliver me from Bondage By Colleen Harrison "A friend and I were once discussing the phenomenon of "perfectionism" and how prevalent it seemed to be among the LDS communities we had lived in. She recounted to me that she had heard a General Authority, speaking at Stake Conference, say that one of the worst things the Saints can do for each other is to appear to be too perfect - that by refusing to admit our struggles and maintaining instead the "appearance" of perfection, we sow seeds of discouragement. If an apostle didn't say it, on could have and should have - for it is a truth worthy of prophetic utterance."
    I have discovered that the only person worthy of my caring what He thinks, is my Savior. That He has created a way for me to return Home to my Father in Heaven, and as long as I feel good about the direction my life is taking, and have constant guidance through the amazing Gift of the Holy Ghost, then nothing and no one else matters. Sad that it took me this long to understand and feel this, but so very thankful that I have a testimony of this now!! What an amazing difference it makes in my life. Love you Dana Mann (Foster) You are an amazing woman! Love yer Mama

  17. Danalin
    I just found this thoughtful blog and am amazed at what a GREAT writer you are - your amazing outlook on life, your word choice, and your way of putting everyday life issues into perspective inspire me greatly. Thanks for the idea and for the uplift. You still make me so proud! Love your guts!!!! robyn