Whenever I'm scrolling my Instagram feed or swiping through video after video on TikTok, I've noticed that I simultaneously spend a lot of time comparing myself to others. And most of that time — as study upon study of social media usage has proven — is spent feeling like I don't measure up. That I don't have enough patience, that I don't feed my children the right foods, or that I don't have enough Pinterest-approved craft projects lined up for my kids.
Tori Phantom, a mom and TikTok influencer who has created a fandom for their #makeupeptalks in which they do makeup tutorials while talking about parenting challenges, has heard similar sentiments from their followers, one of whom commented on a post saying that it made her feel like "a horrible mother."
In response to that particular comment, Phantom said that although "it's never my intention to make anyone feel bad or inadequate with my videos," they acknowledge why it happens.
"I understand how easy it is to compare our weaknesses to someone else's strengths."
"I understand how easy it is to compare our weaknesses to someone else's strengths," they said. "I'm great at communication. I'm thoughtful, empathetic, and patience comes easy to me. Those are some of my strengths as a parent. But when I see parents who are organized and who can easily create and maintain a schedule, parents whose kids sleep in their own beds through the night, Pinterest moms just doing crafts all day . . . why can't I do that? That would be so great for my kids if those things came easy to me."
But, Phantom said, those things simply don't. And that's OK with them.
"I don't talk about those things because I don't have anything to add to the conversation," Phantom said of the content they create. "Instead I'm listening to other people who are better at those things than me."
Phantom noted that for so many parents like them, their "village" is now virtual, which is why they want to be certain they are fostering a positive experience for all.
So the next time a post causes my self-image to take a hit, I'm going to do my best to take Phantom's advice to, first, remember my own distinct strengths or talents that make me a good mom and, second, decide if the weakness I'm harping on is something I even want to improve — or something I can just accept.
As Phantom said: "One of the things I've learned to do is to take pride in my strengths and put energy into the things I want to change."