Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror, Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?! Do you find yourself falling into a comparison trap sometimes?  Asking yourself this same question?  Looking back in the mirror and feeling like you don’t measure up?

We are a culture of “norms”.  What is considered normal compared to abnormal or not fitting in.   If from day one the comparisons are engrained or programmed into what we believe, how can we then be surprised when we see the competition and comparisions that happens in our everyday lives?    We see it in the workplace, at school, down the block, it is everywhere.  “As preschoolers, boys and girls have already learned the lessons about physical appearance that our society teaches,” explain Thomas Cash, author of What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror? “They know that lovely Cinderella gets the prince; her ugly and mean step sisters do not.   From childhood on…we judge our self-worth by the physical standards we’ve absorbed.”  Standards, competitiveness, judgment and we all are impacted as a result.  Don’t get me wrong, competitiveness can be good in certain situations with a “win-win” attitude, but not when it is at the expense of others.

Often when we compare, someone gets hurt.  Sometimes it can be ourselves.  I understand this very well as a young person I was bullied to from grade 2 grade 12.   Children would call me “dog” and bark at me in the halls.   I often looked in the mirror and wondered if the girl looking back was beautiful.   Self worth can be tied to what others think of us and then in turn that voice in our head that may tell us we are not measuring up.  It is interesting, as I have become a woman who values all people in her life, even the stranger walking down the street, I realize we all are truly perfect.  Each one of us has been created distinctly unique and beautiful.  It has taken me many years to realize this in myself and I am still learning.  Even the other day I caught myself falling back into the “mirror, mirror” struggle…

The morning started out perfect, my two little boys were behaving, eating well and getting along.  I was washing dishes and I thought, “This is just perfect”.  Everything was organized and ready, and everyone was happy.  I had an exam that day, and had the exam at top of mind.   But ten minutes before I was about to leave the house with the kids, everything started falling apart.   My youngest son started crying (he is going through a separation stage with his mama when ever I leave his side), and then my oldest wouldn’t put on his jacket.   I advised my oldest son that he better put on his jacket “or else” .  Then my youngest son fell, and the crying went into full gear!  I took a deep breath, reassured my youngest son and felt like I was talking in an entirely different pitch (like the Walmart greeter).  Then I went to grab my keys… But where were they now?  In my mad rush I had somehow lost my keys.   I began raising my voice  (I am sure I sounded like the wicked witch) at my children saying that if they would listen to me, and we all tried to have our best day – it wouldn’t turn into a mess… Perfect choice of words Vanessa what next (was the voice in my head with the hint of sarcasm).

After 5 minutes of searching, I found my keys in the most unlikely place.  I sat down on the bench and felt awful.   I realized that in my mad rush I lost patience.  I then asked my two searching boys to come inside so I could speak to them.  “Calm and collected” after having my own time out.  We were already late that wasn’t going to change.  It was time to “pause”.   I proceeded to tell my babies that we all need to be part of a team in the morning including mom…. And that listening, not yelling is important.  Me included….My eyes were tearing continually and I then told them that I love them very much and just hope for them to have a good day every day.   My oldest sensitive son then started crying and said that it was his fault the whole mess.   I proceeding in telling him that was not the case, and that none of it was his fault it all happened because of a series of issues.  However, he has to listen when I ask him to do something.  He got me a Kleenex.  And then I told my youngest son that if he doesn’t try harder not to cry when he goes to daycare, he will have to go more often.  This was hard to say but there has to be boundaries and adjustments are part of life.  We then all hugged (our family hug) and got into the vehicle.  I was exhausted and it was only 8:30am.

My mind then began to sort through all the issues, and I began blaming myself.   Words came into my head like “You are a bad mom, you should have never done that, you overreacted, you are not going to do well on the exam, your kids will probably have a complex now”… I felt like a failure mother… But compared to who?   Where are my standards and reference points coming from?  “Mirror, mirror on the wall the fairest mother of all is….”  Who??  We all go through time such as these, even the mothers that you “think” have it all together.

I am human and will make mistakes, and will own up to those mistakes in front of my children. Because everything I do is out of love for my children.  Situations like these are opportunities for all of us to learn from as a family/mother.    Why is it that we are always so hard on ourselves?  There are going to be more than enough people in our lives that will be hard on us, so why not give yourself grace in return?

The bible says, “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Corinthians 10:12

This is such a perfect lesson for all of us.

* The is no perfect measuring stick, we are all made uniquely and should not fall into the “mirror mirror” trap.

* We should not compare what we have or who we are to others.

* We should look in the mirror and see the beautiful reflection looking back at us that is unique and one of a kind.

* Being content is much better than feeling like we have to be at 110% in all areas of our life.

* If we have our basic needs in life met, we are better off than a large portion of this world and should give thanks.

In closing, be kind to yourself, and give yourself grace.  Because life is short and is not about the “stuff” but simply about the people and moments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXDMoiEkyuQ (Amazing video about gratitude gives much perspective)


6 thoughts on “Mirror Mirror on the Wall

  1. Good thoughts Vanessa and as I’m sure you know that you are not alone in reacting to life’s frustrations with feelings that do not reflect who you are or who you want to be … Parker Palmer writes in Let Your Life Speak, “there is a great gulf between the way my ego wants to identify me, with its protective masks and self-serving fictions, and my true self.” So important that you took the time to ‘regroup’ and show yourself and your boys the ‘real’ you. The more often we do this the more consistently ‘real’ we become.

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