I clearly remember the first time I realized that parenting was a competition.
It was at the Reunion Party for the members of our childbirth class. Our first baby, Lauren, was three months old, with just a wisp of strawberry hair and bright blue eyes, and she was just beginning to *think about* rolling over. All of us brand new parents sat around the rug with our little bundles, much the same way we'd sat around that rug practicing our breathing and relaxation techniques, which were entirely worthless, but that's beside the point.
One couple, who was the 80's version of today's hipsters, plopped their baby down next to ours and proudly announced, "Tennyson is already tri-podding!"
A collective gasp went up from the crowd. Nobody actually knew what tri-podding was, but it sounded so advanced.
Sure enough, baby Tennyson sat up with his legs splayed out and his little arms reaching the floor in front of him, balancing his wobbly head in clear superiority to the loser-babies who were only rolling over...or still *just thinking* about rolling over.
Tennyson's parents shared that he was in the top 5 percentile for motor skills. They said he loved jazz music. Flash cards were his favorite pastime. The pediatrician had noted that he was very advanced for his age.
Tom and I looked at each other, then down at our baby, who was laying there on the rug like a, well, baby, and knew we had some work to do. Just wait until our One Year Reunion, Tennyson. THEN we'll see who's advanced! Oh yeah, bring it.
But that was just the beginning.
In my little Mother's Day Out, I found out that some kids had really cool mats to nap on, not like the cheap blue one I got at Walmart. Parents discussed which strollers were best, which car seats were safest, and why they decided to go ahead and purchase a Volvo. For the kids' safety, or course.
By elementary school, I figured out that the cool moms were the same girls who were cool in high school. DANG IT! They pulled off the Humble Brag flawlessly: "Morgan hardly had time to finish his science project because we spent Spring Break in Vail." Their kids came by Cool naturally: they inherited it.
I didn't fit in with the Smart Moms who were hell-bent on collecting every possible UIL medal known to man....for their kids, I mean. Colleges look at that kind of stuff, so it's important to start early.
On and on. Inadvertently (or maybe blatantly) comparing, competing and trying to fit in. Trying to out-do.
Just like high school. Only now we'd added our kids' achievements into the competish.
Of course, no one can ever measure up to the others. No matter how "perfect" your kid is, there is always someone's kid with a higher GPA, someone who has first chair in band, someone who models part-time for JCPenney, someone who won a bake-off, someone who got a hefty scholarship....and sometimes we succumb to the pressure of adding more activities and pressure on ourselves (and kids) just to try and keep up. We don't want to be left out.
Today's Small Thing is to stop competing, and start enjoying.
I've found that when I don't worry about the Tennysons of this world, tri-podding a full three weeks ahead of the 95 percentiles, I can exult in my baby rolling over whenever she wants to. When I stop comparing myself to my homeschooling friends and their kids' amazing science projects, I can relax and enjoy where I'm at - today - with my kids and their school projects. Do you get what I'm saying?
We tell our kids not to compare themselves to their peers. We tell them to be their own persons and to do things their own way. And we should do the same for ourselves: stop comparing our parenting styles, our incomes, our kids' achievements and our own, to those of parents around us. Stop giving ourselves the short end of the stick. Stop thinking that we are behind, or less than, or failures as parents.
Let's simply enjoy the gifts we have, such as they are, and let the chips fall where they may.
High school was way over-rated.
How will you enjoy "where you're at" in your parenting journey today? What ideas can you share that might help someone else? I'd love to hear.
I'd love to connect with you.
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