Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Transparent Moment--Comparisons

It's so easy to compare myself with other moms; my kids with other kids; my son with my other son. And yet, the comparisons that are so easy to form actually breed worry, envy, and can ultimately lead to a feeling of failure as a mom; all characteristics that I don't want to embody. It's hard to feel like a good mom when I'm constantly comparing myself to others. It's hard to feel like a good mom when I'm wondering if what my kids are doing is normal. It's hard to feel like a good mom when I'm wondering if I'm parenting correctly.

But, it's hard not to compare my parenting with other parents in today's society. There are images of how we should be plastered all over. The perfect body that you're expected to have weeks after having a baby, the perfect way to parent, the way a child should behave, and even taking it as far as the proper number of kids to have, the perfect combination of genders. Well, what if we, my kids and I, don't match up? Does that make me any less of a good parent and them any less wonderful? Definitely not. But it's still there.

The easier comparison to swallow is comparing my two kids with each other. Society shows us that there are certain standards of normal that our kids are expected to meet; milestone expectations...And, we're led to believe that if our kids aren't meeting those by a certain time, there's something wrong with them.Well, my boys are proof that not every child develops at the same pace. It's amazing to me how different, yet similar, two kids with the same parents can be. One of my boys didn't sleep, the other slept like a dream. One son walked at 10 months old, the other didn't walk until he was 14 months old. One potty trained fairly easily, the other likes to feel the texture of his poop between his fingers. One son laughed with ease, the other was very unhappy until he could walk (maybe that's why he walked so early). One son spoke his first word really, really early but then didn't say much (except screams) for another year, the other didn't speak much for the first 17 months and then exploded in 4 word sentences. Yes, one might reach a certain milestone sooner than the other and I could sit here worrying if something is wrong based on where society deems he should be, but the truth of the matter is, both of my kids are doing great. I've come to realize and appreciate their uniqueness. Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made; perfect in the eyes of their Creator. All I can do as a parent is try my best to guide them along the journey. After all, I know that my one son won't be in diapers when he goes to high school, and my other son is no worse for the wear with the lack of sleep.

But the comparisons get harder when I compare my kids to other kids and myself to other moms...probably because it feels like a reflection on how well I parent, or don't. Why isn't my kid sleeping and yours sleeps like a dream? How do you get your child to be so obedient while mine is running away from me? Whose child is that scream? Oh yea, he's with me...How is that other mom able to do all that and I feel like I'm barely hanging on? I wish I looked immaculate like her instead of like I just rolled out of bed. Wow, she has the patience of a saint...mine flew out the car window along with the sippy cup at about half past noon (generous). Why isn't that other mom's kids freaking out in the grocery store? I know mine aren't the only ones to do that. And I know that mine aren't the only ones to scream on an airplane. But you would never know that by the looks I receive. The looks, the differences in comparisons, if I'm not careful it can lead to questions of doubt...Am I doing something wrong? What if I hadn't given so much here or what if I stepped back a bit more there...maybe then my kids would behave more like so and so. Well, as a parent I've realized that I'm not perfect. I too, like my kids, will have my own unique parenting style. And yet, despite the fact that I do not take a cookie cutter by the book approach (because let's face it, there are so many parenting books out there how could one possibly embody them all?) to parenting, I am still a great mom. Of course I will make mistakes. All I ask for is a little grace along the way. And you know what? I'll be ready to offer that other mom some grace because she too will make mistakes.  And that. is. okay.

I'm not writing this to get affirmations of how well I parent because I know I'm a good mom. Rather, I am writing this in hopes of you hearing that you're great too. We all make mistakes. So, if I pass you in the grocery store when your kids are screaming, instead of giving you the look of death, I will give you one of sympathetic and understanding (while I'm secretly smiling knowing mine aren't the only ones). And heck, my kids will probably join yours in the chorus.
Kai (no, his hair is not that red!)

Readers: Do you ever compare yourself to others? How about your children? How do you handle the "looks" from people in the grocery store if your kids are acting up? 

© Transparencies of Motherhood 2010

1 comment:

  1. AHHH! WE ALLLLL do this! I am lucky in the fact that Aidyn is very well behaved in public, but he has his moments! I never look at parents with that "evil look" because I know oh how quickly the sides could change....

    What DOES bother me is when kids are screaming, being mean, or throwing fits and the parents do nothing to stop it! I was in Panera bread the other day with my son and a friend, and a child screamed through out our entire meal!

    If my son screamed longer then thirty seconds we would have been leaving. Just because my son is young doesnt give me the right to ruin everyone elses lunch! Its not just threatening to leave, its actually leaving! I have left an entire cart in walmart in an isle because either my son or child I am nannying for is acting up! Its not fair to other patrons, and I wont allow them toget away with it!

    I think you are a great mama! And its TOTALY normal to compare! Just know that all kids are created differently! :) Thats hwat makes them special and unique!