Ah, comparison. The thief of joy. The source of worry. A mom’s unwanted shadow. I wish I could stop cold turkey, but I can’t.
My friend’s 1-year-old eats raw red peppers as a snack, willingly. I have to beg, plead, and bribe to get my kid to lick a vegetable. Forget chewing and swallowing. My friend’s 2-year-old can write her name, on her own! Are you kidding me? My kid can’t write the first letter in his name on his own. My friend’s 18-month-old is potty trained; we didn’t get there until 3. And for each of these comparisons that I am making and time spent questioning myself, I know somewhere someone is saying, “My friend’s kid does xyz,” and they are talking about me.
Yet, the questions persist.
Is my kid behind? Is he ahead? Is he on target? Are we doing enough at home? Am I mom-ing ok? Is he missing out on not having more moments at home with me or my husband? Is he getting enough nutrition? I wish we could run a blood panel monthly and check his vitamins. Does he help out around the house enough? Too much? Is he spoiled? Do we watch too much TV? Read enough books? I’m sure he’s not getting enough sleep…
And for every single question, there is no definitive source of information. Sure, there are some arbitrary standards that seem unattainable or don’t fit us (please stop linking me info on rear-facing your kid until they are 800-years-old unless you want to personally come clean up the carsickness on a recurring basis). Sure, I’d love it if all of us ate five full cups of vegetables daily and spent an hour outside and just one hour of TV and 11 hours of sleep (Who does this EVERY day? Really, I want to meet you). And so, without further definitive ideas of how I’m doing with what I have and what I’ve been given, of course, I compare. Hands up if you do, too.
So here’s my guilty admission: I take joy when I see areas that my kid seems to be thriving or ahead of the curve. And in complete honesty, I hope you do, too, when you see ways your kid seems to be doing great. Even if you’re comparing against me.
And here’s my determination: To take joy in my friends and their mothering and their children when I see their children striving, even if my kid seems behind in comparison. To cheer each other on. To learn from each other where applicable and let it go where not. To not allow comparison to steal my joy.