It starts so innocently; something comes up in conversation, someone shares some news with you, or you simply notice something and before you know it you are doing the the most dangerous thing a parent can do – you are comparing your child to another child or yourself to another parent. It is a one way street to self doubt, critical thoughts, and miserable feelings. Comparison is simply the worst thing you can do in parenting.
It begins as soon as we are expecting, oh wait, I think it starts even before that. Suzy has been taking pre-natal vitamins since she decided to start planning a family, Julie has been doing yoga for a stronger body and easier childbirth, and you well, there is no planning, no vitamins, no yoga. But you do have yoga pants, and you rock those. Then the conversations start about weight gain, blood sugar, blood pressure, exercise, vitamins, healthy food and … wait is my kid going to be okay? Will she be too big, too small, score too low on the APGAR? Oh the worries, oh the regrets and the guilt. They flood over you, they consume you.
Just don’t think that it stops when that precious child enters the world! Yes, we will have moments of strength when we convince ourselves that we are good parents (P.S.- you are!) When we stand up to our mother-in-laws telling her that yes we do indeed know what we are doing. When smile down at that sweet baby and think of nothing but how much you love her and how perfect she is. But comparison is evil and it sneaks in and surprises you, and you end up all torn up about the craziest things, like sleep and pee, yes pee!
Julie’s baby starting sleeping through the night at 3 weeks and yours is 9 and still crawls in your bed. Susy’s toddler speaks in complete sentences at two and mine, well he’s eight and I don’t understand half of what he says. Believe me this is just the beginning.
Amy’s kid is the quarterback and has a 4.0. Stacy’s kid has a scholarship to Harvard, and mine struggles to keep a B in math. The nonsense continues but there is a key to fighting the evil off, to stopping it in it’s tracks before it eats you alive. That key is confidence. Confidence in our love, in our abilities, in our knowledge that all people have different parenting styles, different beliefs, and different strengths. Confidence in the fact that we love our kids enough to find answers and seek advice and call on others for help when we need it, because no we do not automatically know what to do with these bundles of love.
Some of us may not be inherently nurturing, or full of information on potty training, and some of us may not be experts in Algebra. But there are books, and friends, and doctors, and yes even in-laws to bounce ideas off , discuss issues with, and lean on when we need to because none of us are experts at all of this. None of us. Happy Parenting!