I sat at my friend’s kitchen table as our kids played just a few rooms away in their playroom. We had weekly playdates—one week at my house, the next week at hers. I loved our time together, but I also struggled with it as well.
You see, my friend is an innie and I’m an outie—and we’re not talking bellybuttons here. We’re talking about home organization. Innies tend to file and outies tend to pile. Therefore my house seemed to be much more cluttered than her house. So as I sat at her kitchen table every other week, enjoying a cup of tea, I always felt a little “less than.” And when she sat at my kitchen table on the alternate weeks, also enjoying a cup of tea, I always felt a little self-conscious.
Because of this there was a wall in our friendship that I unknowingly constructed with my constant comparison.
One day, as I looked at my friend’s nearly naked kitchen counters, I blurted out in exasperation, “Where’s your mail?”
I know…it’s a random question, but I was serious.
She looked at my funny and I continued, “Where’s your mail that you brought in from your mailbox yesterday? And the day before that? Because mine is on my kitchen counter in a pile and I don’t see yours anywhere at all!”
She smiled and headed for a kitchen cabinet where she pulled out a hanging file box with labeled files for each member of her family. Other files were labeled Bills to Pay, Invitations, School Papers, and other titles that described the usual papers that flow in and out of a family’s home.
“Wow! I’ve never thought of that!” I exclaimed, excited about a new strategy I could use to manage the paper monster I never seemed to be able to tackle.
That conversation opened up something new in our friendship. I stopped comparing myself to my friend and instead began to see how she complemented me. Her strengths filled my weaknesses. And she later told me that some of my strengths filled her weaknesses!
I began to learn that we all have our own mothering personality. There’s no right and no wrong…just different and unique with likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses we bring to the relationships around us.
The women in our mom tribe—friends, sisters, neighbors, sister-in-laws, and any fellow traveler on the journey of motherhood—fill our gaps with their strengths. And we fill theirs.
In our book, Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant To Mom Alone, my daughter Anne and I created a Mothering Personality Inventory—a quick quiz you can take to better understand and embrace your mothering style and the differing mothering styles of those around you.
Moms are taking the quiz and inviting their friends (and women in their moms groups) to take it as well. They’re reporting that they’re comparing themselves less and collaborating with each other more. They’re relishing who they are and leaving behind who they are not, realizing that other women in their tribe will fill their gaps and balance them out. They’re tearing down relational walls that have kept them isolated, feeling “less than,” and attempting to do this mom thing alone.
Most importantly, they’re discovering that without a doubt, we really are better together!
Take the quiz today and then let me know what your results were by posting a comment!
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