I Thought I Was Better Than Her: Diversity in Motherhood


We were just putting our kids down to bed, when my phone rang.

It was odd. Not just because it was late, but because no one seems to actually call me anymore. Except the pediatrician, or my mom. Rarer still was the moment I heard the alert sound off that there was voicemail. Eager to find out who had been so diligent and passionate in their communication efforts, I picked up my phone to see that she had called.

Uh Oh

My heart started to beat faster. My hands got a little clammy and then I threw the phone down as if she was staring right through it, waiting. I climbed into bed with my husband and began to rattle off all my fears.

Did she know I had been avoiding her for the last couple of weeks?
Did she sense that I had become quiet in our conversations?
Was she aware that I had been different, distant, and shut down?

I wasn’t so sure.

Nevertheless, I knew it was time to talk about it. It was time to own up, be honest, and risk transparency — all for a relationship I wasn’t even sure I had anymore. We had begun to lose our grip on our friendship months prior.

The Issue

While at yet another play date with coffee cups in hand, our children climbed all around us. Our voices began to rise over the cacophony of honking, imaginary car crashes, and toddler babble as we discussed weekly routines, family meals, and our purpose as mothers. And quite like the noises that engulfed us, we started to clash. We just couldn’t seem to find common ground.

I left that morning feeling judged; and guilty of judgment too. I felt misunderstood, insecure, and full of doubt. Mainly, I was confused at not being agreed with. I was so sure I was right. I was so sure that my friend was wrong, or maybe just a little misguided. We sort of tied up loose ends, but things weren’t ever quite the same after.

Our play dates became shorter or nonexistent. We hovered over surface level topics that required no opinion and that asked for no discussion. We stopped trying to share the hard stuff, and façade ruthlessly replaced authenticity. I could see the demise of our relationship happening in real time. Years of doing life together: marriage, small groups, church, grief, and transitions — all being swallowed by our differences in motherhood.

And For What?

Because I couldn’t tell her how I really felt?
Because I didn’t agree with her on how she spent her time?
Or, because I felt too proud to own up to my own insecurities?

Or maybe because while I applauded commercials that celebrated the diversity of mothers’ choices, I still very much believed there was only one way to mother: my way.

When it came to motherhood, she and I could not be more different. And quite honestly, I just wasn’t okay with that.
At my very worst, I found myself critiquing her every move, her every word. At my best, I saw that she was incredible. She loved her children fiercely and she did everything with them in mind. Wasn’t that all that mattered? Wasn’t that the only common ground we needed? Gradually, it became clear to me that the distance that had grown between us had nothing to do with my friend and her choices. It had everything to do with the posture of my heart.

The Call

I couldn’t wait anymore.

No more avoiding. No more faking fine. And, no more pretending.

I climbed out of bed, picking up my phone on the way. It was time to return the call. More importantly, it was time to create space for confession. And, for forgiveness too.

I’m lucky that in the span of our conversation, we bridged the gap that had formed between us. We could try again. And this time, we started over with the understanding that we were different. We started over knowing that we could be completely ourselves with one another; that we had the permission to disagree.

That talk reminded me that another woman’s circumstance, belief, or opinion had little to do with the division I might feel towards her. More often than not, I just needed to shift how my heart was filtering my perspective of her. Rather than seeing her through my insecurities, my pride, or even my expectations, I feel that instead I should see her the way as God sees her — as the woman whom He has entrusted with this great weight of motherhood.

Diversity in Motherhood

I am no better or no less than her. And she is no better or no less than me. We were made exactly as we should be for such a time as this; for exactly these children that we’ve been given to raise.

Finally, I’ve learned that it is in occasions like these where we forge true and long-lasting friendships; where we make real and actual personal change. For where we might see a massive fracture of difference, instead therein lies a real call: to humbly see that there is strength in diversity, edification in disagreement, and hope in transparency. It’s here that we could become better together, and that I could become better too.

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Wife to a bonafide mountain man and mama to two toddlers and a newborn babe, Tabitha doesn't find much margin for boredom. When things get crazy, as they often do — Tabitha fervently writes down what keeps her pressing on. She believes that every messy minute of motherhood is worth the daily fight and will stop at nothing to pursue God through it all. While often quite wordy and long-winded, you can count on Tabitha to be completely transparent and brutally honest when it comes to life and everything else in-between. While she’d rather meet you over a cup of coffee on her front porch to share the lessons she's regularly learning, you can also visit with her over on her blog or Instagram. Her personal blog, Tabitha Panariso, is a space where you can find her writing on faith, motherhood, and daily life. You can also find her capturing the everyday rhythms of life on her Instagram, @tabithapanariso