I recently had a girls trip with my oldest and dearest girlfriends. We haven’t been together, just us, for years – so needless to say, I was excited. But during our first pool lounge session, I found myself confronted with the biggest Mom hole – The Comparison Trap.
It was innocent enough, we were talking about daycare and my friend said something to the effect of “the teachers told me she has an amazing vocabulary but that she can’t throw a ball to save her life!” It wasn’t said with a hint of ‘look how smart my kid is’ and even had a little self-depreciating humor but I immediately ran through my brain how I could talk about how smart Cole is in comparison.
Over our short time together, my dear friend told a funny story about something her daughter had said or a clever thing she did – and I had to hold myself back from immediately following up with a comment on Cole or an equally funny quip. I didn’t want to play the one-up game, why couldn’t I just laugh about her daughter, admire her as a mother, enjoy the conversation instead of comparing.
Because comparing can become such second nature to us as parents. It starts with the first weeks and months when we compare to the charts…he’s three weeks old, is he cooing yet; has she rolled over; he’s not crawling yet, but isn’t he supposed to by now? And then it moves on to walking, and talking and reading and college exams! We compare against the milestones, against siblings, against Facebook and the kids on the playground.
You’ve surely had the conversation with another mom about when your baby started sleeping through the night and sized up who’s baby was better or who was more successful as a mom. And that’s it, right there…
Who is the more successful mom.
We place SO MUCH of our worth as mothers on the comparison between our child and another’s. That if ours isn’t first or the best at something, that somehow we have failed.
But don’t tell me that it doesn’t strike a cord with you. We desperately want to get it right, to do a good job at turning these little humans into functioning members of society – and we don’t know if all the work we’re putting in is actually getting somewhere! Because being a mom is a job that doesn’t give performance reviews or merit raises.
Our whole lives, we’re conditioned by feedback. We got an A or a C on a test, and that told us how good we were at math. We were ranked by our GPA, by our fastest mile or the number of sit ups in gym class. And our jobs have sales numbers or standardized tests or some measure to tell us if we’re “good” at this – if we’re worth something.
Motherhood doesn’t have these measurements. All we can do is look around at what other people are doing, how other kids are behaving or developing. And in the absence of scores and rankings, we create our own. A little comparison check list in our heads that says whether our child is doing well in school, plays nice with others or is the star of the T-ball league. And it can be so easy to replace our worth with this comparison.
But it isn’t true. In fact it is complete and udder bullsh*t!
Your worth is not defined by your kid’s last reading score or teacher’s conference. (And it isn’t defined by your work performance or your grades or any of these other measurements for that matter either!).
You are worth something simply because you are you.
Because you got up today. Because you made a difference, in some small way, to a person you may never even know. Because you love fiercely and you show up. You are worthy, not because of anything you do or don’t do, but simply because of who you are.
The progress, talents, personality traits, or successes of the moms or the kids around you, DO NOT take away or from your own. What your child just mastered is not any less important because someone else is a little ahead. The mom victory is not down-graded in light of other mama wins.
The comparison trap is so ugly because “comparison is the thief of joy.”
Let us stop comparing our kids and comparing ourselves to other moms. We are not them. What works for them and their kids will not work for ours. You are EXACTLY the right mom for your child – so just be yourself and let your kiddos do the same.
We vowed to make this girls trip happen every 3 years, so next time I’m at the pool with my ladies in tow, I will not fall prey to the comparison trap. I will soak up the stories of my genius little god-daughter and be happy telling my own silly stories about Cole. I am worthy, just as I am.