Why does everyone else’s family look so much more together than mine?

It’s almost as if we are programmed to compare.

Whether we blame it on the Jones’s, or on the highlight reels we are bombarded with on social media, it’s a daunting task to separate “us” from “them” and not pay attention to how and if we are measuring up.

Believe me, this is a battle I fight as well. These almost-automatic comparisons I make when, for instance, I can’t help but notice the family sitting at a table across from us at a restaurant …

Picture this … their kids are sitting up straight, chewing oh-so-politely with their mouths closed, listening attentively to their parents telling stories about their very interesting days, and their napkins are actually on their laps and not on the floor next to their feet.

Then I look back at our table …. and I wonder how many more times my boys will ask if they can “play on our phones” or “quickly just check the scores on ESPN” in between asking how much longer until the food comes because they are staaarving.

The comparisons extend way beyond the Jones’s, or the people dining next to us or the family that gets everywhere on time (with hair neatly combed and all gear packed in a bag).

Yes, it gets much bigger. Drum roll please … enter social media.

Yep –  we are also supposed to keep up with our thousand “friends” and their thousand “friends” or “followers.”  Who has aged better? Who’s more successful? Who’s having more fun? Whose baby’s cuter? Whose child won the Geography Bee AND is the MVP of his lacrosse team? And of course, whose husband writes them more public love notes “just because.” (Not mine!)

These highlight reels, other people’s single happiest moments, can dictate how we feel about ourselves, our family, and everything we’ve worked so hard to create.

When is the last time you saw someone post their latest argument with their spouse?

Or when their child got suspended or diagnosed with a learning disability?

How about that “vacation selfie” that shows those extra 10lbs from eating all of that beautifully arranged food they posted pictures of?

Most likely, never.

In my work I get “behind the curtain” access. The real picture. I see beyond the highlight reels and the perfect moments and know the real stories, the real struggles, the real emotions and the real fears. Every Single Family Has Them.

Perfect on paper, perfect in pictures, perfect in public … maybe …  but beyond the veil of perfection lies someone’s very real story of heartache, heartbreak, defeat, worry and challenges.

Everyone has a story. No family truly exists in the highlight reels.

These glimpses of perfection are just that, glimpses. And these automatic comparisons we make to others do not serve us or benefit us at all.

When we pause to realize that we can all create a “highlight reel” that looks pretty darn fantastic, but it is not where our real, authentic relationships exist, we can stop comparing ourselves to others’ best moments and start finding more joy in our own messy family.

We can recalibrate our expectations and appreciate our family for exactly where we are, no matter what anyone else seems to be doing.

Let’s commit to start to embrace our own awesomely imperfect family, warts and all.

Are you with me?

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