I don’t compete. Not really anyway. I mean…If I’m playing Catch Phrase or Heads Up, (or maybe basketball with a five year old), I will totally get into the game. I can yell and scream and cheer with the best of them.

But I don’t really care if I lose. Maybe that is more what I mean.

“I’m not competitive” = “I don’t care if I lose.”

Don’t get me wrong, during the game, I want to win. I think everyone does. But if I don’t win, I don’t lose any sleep.

Now I’m married to a man who has an ex-wife.

At first glance, I would tell you that I feel no need to compete with her.

I have never needed to feel “prettier” than her.  She has seen me in comfy pants, hair up, and no make up. She’s seen me in torn workout clothes and I don’t wear Lulu Lemon. One time I opened the front door panting and she could see lines of sweat dribbling down my forehead. I never gave it a second thought.

I’ve never felt the twinge of financial jealousy. She works very hard and does extremely well in the sales world of business. I work a few days a month and help out our budget when I can.  I am happy for all of her success.

And I certainly haven’t ever felt the need to compete as a “mom”.  Being a mom myself, I realize that no one could ever replace a mom. From Wesley’s point of view, no one would compare to me as his mom. Even as an adult, no one could compare to my own mom!  So I am very well aware that no one could compare to B’s ex-wife as Ethan and Layla’s mom. She holds all the stars of motherhood in their sweet eyes. 

It’s just the way it is with moms. 

So the whole idea of competing with her in general hasn’t been an issue.

I knew eventually, we might hit some discord, as all relationships do…and well, recently, we did. Nothing terrible happened, but it was enough of an exchange to warrant a call to my mom.

Mom: “Hey Lauren!”

Me: “Hey mom!” I proceeded to explain the situation and the communication that had taken place with her about B and I and our home.  

And as all wonderful moms do, she was honest and forthright.

Mom: “You’re competing.”

Me: “What? What do you mean? I don’t even like to compete. You know that.”

Mom: “I know, but in this, you are competing.”  

Me: “How am I doing that?”

Mom: “You aren’t competing with her personally or as a mom, but you are competing to have the better home.”

I listened as she elaborated.

Thoughts darted through my head.

She was right. I wanted to be the home that they wanted to come to. I wanted to be the house they loved playing games in. I wanted to be the home where they laughed through dinner at the table and the home where we prayed during devotionals. I wanted them to want to be here. 

Now, let me be clear…It’s not that I don’t want them to enjoy their mom’s house. I do! I just selfishly want them to love our home too. 

This random competition seed I was feeling somehow reared its ugly head without any reason or logic at all. The kids have been doing great at both homes. This was more like a quiet undercurrent of natural “step-motherhood worry” that hadn’t been exposed yet.

Me: “But, I don’t get that. Why am I doing that? Why do I feel the pressure of needing to be the better home?”

Mom: “You want them to love you.”

Me: “Well, of course I do.”

Mom: “That is not your job. Your job is not to have the best table dinners. Your job isn’t to have the most fun. Your job isn’t to play the most games. Your job isn’t to make them love you. Your job is to love them. Your job is to pour Jesus into them.

If they love you back at some point, then consider it icing on the cake, but that is not your first pursuit. ”

Me: “But I do want to have a fun home. And I do want them to learn about Jesus. I want them to love being here. And I want them to love us!”

Mom: “I know. And I believe they already do love you and your home and I think God will continue to bless you and Byron with that, but it can’t be the motivation that drives you or your home. You just keep loving them and filling them up with Jesus. God will take care of the rest.”

We hung up.

In a way, it was hard to hear, but at the same time, I felt freedom. I didn’t have to worry so much about “all the things” we were doing to have a “better home”.

I could relax. 

I could enjoy them without fear of where we are on the “love scale”. I could laugh with them at the dinner table and enjoy teasing them about the games each evening. I could pray with them about life each night. And I could do all of that without worrying if this would aid in them loving our home more.

I left the conversation feeling less pressure, less anxiety and less burden.

Thank you, mom. Thank you for the reminder that desiring and praying for a wonderful relationship is great, but chasing after it through some futile home competition just isn’t going to get me there.

I am grateful for moms. I am so grateful for my mom, especially when an impromptu phone call turns into an outpouring of wisdom.

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