Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Death by Comparison.... and Oreos

Comparison is like a poison, in my personal opinion.

Some people think of it as a motivation, or a measurement.  Which is fine.  If it is motivational to think that someone is doing "x" better than you and you should do better, then by all means.... go for it!  For example: "Jenny works harder than you on the soccer field so she gets to start in the game."  In that case, yes, use that comparison to motivate you to work harder.

However!  In the specific case of parenting and being a young mommy; comparison is a poison.

"She is crafty and I'm not."
"She has Tory Burch flip flops and I don't."
"Her kid is walking and mine won't even roll over."
"She got dressed today."

I know you say these things because I did.  I DO! STILL! Which blows my mind, after the advice I've given others.  I have a lot of friends that are either pregnant for the first time or have a baby under the age of 9 months, and my main advice to them is "Do what works for your family.  Don't compare your family to another because you'll never measure up to what you think you SHOULD be doing or wearing or eating."  That and, "Your child WILL roll over eventually, who cares if her kid did that at 6 weeks!"

But I'm still victim to the grocery store line strip down.

Me behind another young mom in the grocery store line:

Ugh, her perfume is too strong and her baby has graham cracker all over himself... hmmm, I'm going to guess her name is Tricia.  She looks like a Tricia..... Oh goodness, Tricia's baby is such a mess.  Maybe I should hand her a wet one from my bag..... oh no, now her kid is screaming for more graham cracker.... I would totally help out but my kid is going through my bag and playing with credit cards so she doesn't scream..... oh no, look at MY kid.  She is playing with credit cards and has milk from breakfast still on her face and it's 4 o'clock!  Ooops, totally forgot to brush her hair today.  I hope no one else noticed...... ugh, the perfume! gross.  Wait, she's wearing perfume.  She is also wearing make up and something that she took off of a hanger...... I'm wearing... oh no.... I'm wearing my stained Uggs in public and my work out pants, that have milk from breakfast this morning smeared on the leg.  Great.  I probably smell her perfume so much because I haven't been out of the house in two days and I'm so used to smelling cheerios and bananas paired with toothpaste and dryer sheets..... oh shoot.  I forgot dryer sheets.  Back to the aisles.  Tricia totally has it together better than I do.  I'd better grab some Oreos.  Oreos make me feel better.


I've also been on the other end of that.  Where I've been dressed well and my kids are behaving well and the family behind me is in shambles and the mother looks like she gave away all her mirrors and hasn't caught her reflection for DAYS.  I have been so proud of myself and prideful about how lovely and wonderful my girls are in matching clothes and hair bows and I imagine the mother behind me is jealous of my togetherness.  It's so gross that I've done that, but I have.

I'm so grateful for what follows my pride almost every time...... the fall.

We get in the car and all in a matter of 30 seconds; our happy family is reduced to the shambles we just witnessed inside.... or worse:  Peanut steals the loaf of bread (from my special cloth grocery sacks.... also a source of pride... ugh), she tears open the sack dumps out the bread, Bug yells, trying to parent her little sister; hair pulling and screaming ensues as my tomatoes and avocados roll out into the parking lot.  I'm running out to grab my produce and drop my phone that was in my hand because I was trying to Instagram a picture of my kids being cute in the silly hats from the Dollar Spot.  Food smashed, phone cracked, children crying..... and now we have no bread and are late for lunch time.  And when you're late for lunch time, nap is late, and if you miss the nap window.....  T.R.O.U.B.L.E.

Suddenly I remember the mom without mirrors and realize, she was probably buying food to make a fabulous meal for her family who doesn't watch TV and her 18 month old can already read and speak French.  She totally has it together in areas where I don't.


The only way I have been able to combat this comparison poison is to just be aware of it.  I catch myself, looking at Facebook, Pintrest, and blogs and trying to measure up.  Usually I don't catch it until it's too late and I'm wallowing in my inadequacy and dark brown Oreo dust.... too late.

Right now I'm reading Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist and she said she had to write down all the things she doesn't do.  I love that. I love that there can be a reminder to myself when I'm thinking, "oh what a great craft she made!" or "Look at that baby's first birthday party!".  I can look at my list and remind myself "oh, right.  I don't do those things.  I hate play doh and I don't do the blow out kid's birthday parties!  Off the hook."

My List of "I don't do"s
I don't go running
I don't throw the super cute blow out birthday parties for my kids
I don't leave the house a mess so I can craft with my kids
I don't clean my baseboards
I don't do fancy calligraphy or other fancy lettery things
I don't let my kids eat without washing their hands (some see this as a negative which is fine... to each his own)
I don't call people on the phone just to chit chat
I don't (usually) wear perfume during the day
I don't wear lip stick
I forget people's birthdays
I don't wear bikinis

There are many more things I'm not currently thinking of, but that's a few that are on my brain.  I don't do those things and I doubt I will start any time soon.  It's somewhat freeing typing those out and looking at them.  So next time "Tricia" is in front of me in line and I start the strip down... I'll remember my list of don't do's.  Then I'll be able to enjoy her perfume and messy, smiley child as she talks to her friend on the phone and pays for her cute bikini, birthday cards, and calligraphy pens.

Try to catch yourself in comparison, then stop it and change it.  You probably won't even need to leave the house.... between Facebook and blog reading, you will poison yourself to the point of 10 Oreos in a matter of 10 minutes.

Do what works best for you and YOUR family, and let that other girl run hers.  You never know, she may think your stained Uggs are cool and edgy.... is that a thing now?

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