When my son was a baby, I joined a mother’s group. I enjoyed being part of the group, but one thing always bothered me. Some of the mothers seemed to be exceptionally focused on how much their babies weighed. The bigger the child’s size and weight, the more bragging rights that mother had. I would look at my son and think, “Well, gosh, he’s not that big at 6 months. Am I doing something wrong?”
But my son was growing and thriving–at his own pace. I had to take a careful look at my insecurities as a new mother and realize that I had to follow my own path according to my instincts and values. While there is comfort in comparing notes with other moms, I had to remember that my kids aren’t going to be like everyone else’s kids and that is what makes them special and individual.
Throughout my years as a parent, I’ve been presented with many dilemmas. Some of them sound silly in retrospect, but I’m a researcher by nature. I tend to explore every possible angle much to my husband’s annoyance. For example: Should I redshirt my summer baby or go ahead and send him to kindergarten as his preschool teacher recommends? Should I let my son play with Nerf guns or would I be condoning violence? Should I keep my older son in a booster seat even though most of his friends are no longer in one?
In each of these instances, my husband and I weighed the circumstances and made our decisions based on what made sense to us. So we sent our son to kindergarten on time. We let our other son shoot Nerf guns, as long as he doesn’t point them at people’s faces or the dogs. And much to their irritation, we require that our sons remain in booster seats until they have reached the recommended height and weight.
Comparison is exhausting and self-defeating. Most of us simply don’t have the time, energy or will to chase other people’s rainbows. And besides, we can’t truly understand what is driving their individual decisions because we aren’t in their heads, living their lives.
And, that’s okay.
Will you regret some of your decisions? Probably. But life is imperfect and so is parenting.
There will always be moms who make parenting look easy. They appear to have all of the child-rearing answers, including nice, clean, typical children and Pinterest perfect lunch boxes. Applaud their efforts, but keep in mind that they have their own struggles that may not be entirely obvious.
We each have different priorities, values and desires. You don’t have to put blinders on. Seek input or help as necessary. But in the end, listen to your heart and be comfortable with your choices, while also giving yourself permission to be flexible.
And, condemn the curse of comparison because, Mama, you are right where you are supposed to be.