All through this pregnancy I keep having people tell me "just remember your next child probably won't be as smart/ advanced/ social as your daughter." My usual response is to laugh and say, "yep, but maybe the next one will sleep!" The truth is these are still comparisons. And how do you compare smart or advanced anyway? Every person has different strengths. Why should that be different as children?
Last night I went to a picnic with a group of friends we haven't seen but maybe once or twice since my daughter was born. When my daughter entered this world I had hoped to become closer to one of them in particular and yet it was not a mutual wish. Comparison seems to separate us. We will be having a pleasant chat but the second the kids come up the conversation shuts down.
I don't think I am a braggy mom. If fact, I feel I vent my frustrations to mom friends more than triumphs. But in relaying conversations that I have with my daughter I must admit that her language skills and reasoning is beyond what I thought a child under three was capable.
I have had many friends comment about this as well. Or comment on how their child's language is not as advanced. Meanwhile their child is fully potty trained, or off climbing the jungle gym by themselves, or interacting socially with kids their age while my daughter still stands to the side saying hi but not quite sure how to engage. They all have their strengths. None of these strengths are better or worse, they just are, and yet it gets in the adult mind.
It is not just this one friend. I don't mean to single her out; it was just my most recent interaction where it was obvious. I catch myself doing it too, especially now as more and more of my daughter's friends become potty trained in a weekend. But these comparisons don't help any of us. They aren't healthy for us as parents or for our children. Even the warnings I get that my next child will be different, as if somehow I will be let down by number two's differences, plants harmful thoughts.
I have a friend who speaks multiple languages. I have a friend who has a high income, high demand job that she navigates on top of being a mom. I have a mom that's zen level is unmatched and she seems to have infinite patience and grace when interacting with her kids. I even have a friend that seems to find the beauty in every situation and keep things positive which is always a goal of mine. We are all different. There isn't a better or worse because we are just all a completely different makeup. And our differences are what makes us good for each other and bring our own light to the world.
I want to give this same grace and understanding to kids. They don't need our judgment or pushing. I hope that someday even these subtle warnings will not be necessary.
I'm grateful for my daughter and the things she does well. I'm grateful for the areas she struggles that allow me space to grow myself as I try to help her learn. I'm grateful for all my mom friends that allow me to talk about my daughter and share their own stories as well so we can celebrate and brainstorm together. I'm grateful to know that the moms I cannot seem to connect with have mom friends of their own as they navigate their own journey. I'm grateful for each child and the special set or strengths and light they bring to this world. I'm grateful to be excited to see what traits my newest addition will hold and how she will help me grow in motherhood.
When do you find comparisons sneaking into your thoughts? How do you reframe those thoughts and quiet the external chatter?
May today remind us that our differences are our strengths. May we find better ways as a society to honor those differences and leave comparison behind. Have a beautiful day!