Back me up here people.
It's instinctive. Natural. Normal.
I'll admit: I compare myself to other people - especially other mums. People fascinate me. I like seeing how they handle situations I've been in. I like observing their different techniques. And I like seeing how they manage to stay on top of things.
The problem is, this little observation inevitably turns into an internal slanging match with myself over whether I'm as good as them.
Me: Your diaper bag isn't as organized as hers, is it?
Me: No. Why does it matter?
Me: Because because! You must keep up appearances.
Me: Yes you're right. Must. Do. Better.
Me: And look how patient and calm she is with her kids. Take note.
Me: Taking note...
It happens when I'm in Starbucks
The possibilities are EVERYWHERE.
This is how I see the evolution of the nasty habit of comparing:
It starts at school when you look up at your classmate with the cool outfit and the top test results and wonder if your outfit and test results are as good; then you land your first job out of college and you ask yourself whether your boss likes you as much as your smart arse colleague - the one who sends 11 p.m. emails around the entire office to prove they did indeed work late; then you become a homeowner and your neighbour's lawn is just that little bit greener than yours; and then you're a mother and... holy shit. Where do I even start?
There are many many many opportunities to compare yourself to other parents when you become one yourself.
It's SO MUCH FUN! (That was sarcastic. In case it didn't come across.)
In prenatal class, I sat with J and ten other expectant couples, comparing my bump to theirs: was my bump too big, too small, or just right? Did they know more than me about this baby thing? Was I as calm and composed as they were? (It was only later I realized everyone in the class was just pretending to be calm and really were silently crapping themselves with fear and panic.)
And then, when I had my baby, the comparing went full speed ahead, and perhaps a little out of control.
Other women took to breastfeeding naturally. I didn't.
Other women seemed to always be doing interesting activities with their kids. Often I stayed home and played the piano to Matthew or read him books.
Other people's houses were FAR cleaner than mine.
Other mums lost their baby weight fast while I struggled to get the pounds off.
And there were baby books, magazines, online mum forums, TV shows, friends and relatives. All enablers of the comparison habit in one way or other. And social media. Yes, I'm sorry. I do love social media. It's great for making connections, meeting fabulous people, etc. But it does give you that sneak peek at other people's lives that again, inevitably leads to the ol' comparison making.
An example? I'll be perusing status updates on Facebook, and I'll see that So-And-So Supermum with not two but THREE kids has already been to Gymboree, written a report for work and worked out at the gym. All before 10 a.m. And I'm still in my pyjamas, with the bedraggled bedhead thing going on, looking mournfully at the dishes in the sink.
Yes. It's safe to say I was a little
Thankfully, when I had my second son, I let go of the comparisons. Not completely, but enough to feel in control.
And so? What did I learn from all the comparisons? What is the point of this rambling, unscientific post?
To tell you something important.
DON'T DO IT.
I learned nothing from comparing myself to other mums. The only feelings that resulted were ones of self doubt and pointless thoughts at 2 a.m. like
More importantly these thoughts detract from more important things like ENJOYING LIFE. Things like chocolate, laughing, sex, drinking wine, spending time with your kids, taking photographs, going to dinner with friends, relaxing, going for a walk. You get the idea.