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Mom math: My 3 kids do not equal your 3 kids

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Have you ever been at the park and noticed a mother with the same number of children as you?

Were they similar to your kid’s ages?

Did you think you were living mirrored lives, except the only difference was she seemed to have it all together?

We easily compare ourselves in motherhood, but I’m here to tell you, that your 3 kids do not equal her 3 kids. I call this mom-math and in mom-math, 3 does not equal 3, 4 does not equal 4.

There are so many factors that go into raising kids, which automatically negate anything being equal in any motherhood situation. There are differences in kid personalities, the amount of help from a spouse, the absence of a spouse, grandparent or community help, sibling relationships and rivalries, medical conditions of children or parent, full or part-time working parent, financial differences, etc. Theses just scratch the surface.


A single-mom with one child could be carrying a load that far outweighs that of a mom raising 6 children in a different set of circumstances.

Let’s go back to the park. Maybe Susie has her 3 kids and seems to have it all together, while you seem to be falling apart at the seams. But, Susie has 3 kids with no medical issues. A spouse who works from home and can help her periodically during the day. Grandparents who are frequently involved in taking the kids so Susie can have a break. Not to mention, her children are well tempered and get along beautifully.

Meanwhile, you have 3 children with strong personalities that fight often. A husband who works out of the house or on the road traveling. No family support in the area, and you are also juggling a child with a severe medical condition. How is this comparable? It isn’t.


You are quick to think that 3=3, and the rest of the world handles it all so much better than you. “Pull yourself up by the boot straps, and get your stuff together!” you say.

After all, Susie can do it so why can’t you?


Here is the thing… Susie may not have it all together. Most likely, she is struggling with her own set of inadequacies. We are all doing the best we can in motherhood and we each have a different load to carry. We need to stop the mom-math and comparisons because it is not helping you, nor is it helping Susie.

The next time you find yourself calculating mom-math, remember that 3 never equals 3 in motherhood. Stop doing math all together, and go grab a coffee with Susie. Maybe her kids will teach your kids how to CALM DOWN and get along. Or maybe, just maybe, Susie needs a friend because she’s carrying a load that you know nothing about.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Joy Petersen

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