Something you cannot help but do is compare…yourself to others, your kids to other kids, your success to other’s successes, etc.; the list just goes on.
I am as guilty of this as anyone else. I have compared myself to my friends and co-workers, compared my marriage to others’, compared Little Man to other children. This morning, I took Little Man into town and we went to toddler story time at the county library. I was so excited for it, and for Little Man to see some other kids from the area. I immediately started comparing him to the others though, as I saw them sitting quietly with their mothers, talking with words and some with full sentences, playing quietly during play time. Little Man decided he was going to run around the room, clomping around in his shoes, climbing up and down the stairs to the stage, grunting and babbling, and not really playing when it was play time. No, he did not sit with me during story time; I stood up and watched him as he ran, and held his hand as he walked up and down the stairs. The librarian was super sweet, and reminded us that it’s ok if the kids don’t sit and listen to the stories; they can do what they need to during the time allotted for them. Granted, these other children were several months older than Little Man, and they have all been coming to this story time since they were itty bitty, while Little Man has not had a lot of socialization with others his age (this is totally all on me, and something I’m working on this fall).
When I realized that I was comparing Little Man (unfairly) to the other children, I mentally took a step back to see what was going on. I realized that I was embarrassed at his actions, and I felt that it reflected negatively on me as a mother. I do wish that Little Man was better with using words instead of his grunts and pointing, and we are always saying what it is we are getting for him, pointing out animals, etc. and saying what they are called, so he does know what trucks and different toys are, he just does not yet use those words. I have this idea in my head of what abilities Little Man should have at this point, and the fact that he is not quite there, I have to say that I am a bit ashamed, and feel that I am not doing the best I could be doing when it comes to parenting, and I start to doubt my ability to homeschool him when he is older.
On our drive home from the library, I thought more about how I felt when I realized I was comparing Little Man to the other tots, and thought about past times where I made comparisons. When I draw comparisons, I am being hard on myself, and focus on whatever it is I feel should be done better, or should be at a different level than it actually is. Everyone has standards, or goals, that they expect to meet, and when they are not met, the disappointment kicks in. I made a mental note to try something different next time I find myself drawing comparisons. Instead of focusing on the negative, “what could be better?” thoughts, I am going to look for the positive. The positives from Little Man today: he went up to each of the other little ones, unafraid of them, and tried to hold their hands, or give hugs, or hand them whatever toy or book he had in his hands. None of the other children did that. Little Man walked up to the librarian, took her hand, and walked her over to the toy tools, and motioned for her to sit down and play with him; again, the other children did not do that. She was so amazed at Little Man’s invitation, she sat and played with him for a few minutes before going on to visit with the other moms in the room.
Yes, we are not always going to be at the same level as those we meet, but when we draw comparisons, they always end in us feeling inadequate in some way. Instead of that feeling, let’s change the way we compare ourselves. Let’s look for the positives going forward, and remind ourselves that everyone moves at their own speed, and it is not imperative to be “caught up”in every aspect of life.