Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Comparison Trap

We all get sucked into it. Its instinctual as human beings. We compare. Everything we do/have is measured up against something else to determine its worth. In a very materialistic world its almost impossible to avoid. And for some reason when we enter motherhood it seems to attack us constantly from all angles. Milestones, baby strollers, breastfeeding, schedules, preschools, and on and on and on. Its never ending. What's even worse is when you get suckered into the comparison trap in your own household. Between siblings.

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From the day I found out I was pregnant with our second (Ellie) I started to compare things. I was sicker this time around than I was with Molly. I have gained X amount of weight with E vs with M. I have heartburn this time, I didn't before. And these are not always bad things. Its okay to compare within reason for knowledge sake. But it grows quickly and happens without even realizing it. One day I am comparing the color of their eyes and then all of a sudden E must not be as smart because M had already done something that E has yet to do. Boom!

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Molly was a very "early" milestoner. She rolled over at 2.5 months, she started scooting at 4 months, crawled at 5.5 months, pulled up at 6 months and started walking in earnest around 11 months. All the little milestones in between were early too (grabbing toys, putting things to her mouth, etc). But there were other things that she was "late" on such as teeth (she didn't get a tooth until after her 1st birthday), words, social things etc.


Then Ellie came along and she was definitely different from the get-go and in a great way! Molly had terrible colic that really rocked our world (to put it mildly) and I was terrified to go through that again with baby #2, but Ellie surprised us and was a much happier more relaxed baby. Thank goodness! But as Ellie got older, week by week I was constantly comparing. I started to get concerned that Ellie wasn't doing this or that. I started to feel like she was behind and something must be wrong. I sent countless emails to the pediatrician that started out "Molly was doing this and Ellie isn't, whats wrong with her?" And then my pediatrician put it best, "Nothing is wrong with her," she said "Ellie is her own person." Wow, that really hit me hard. I wasn't giving Ellie a fair start in life, I was too busy trying to match her up to her older sister. I was robbing her of her own identity at 2 months old. Yikes!

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I get it, it is hard. It is hard not to compare in everything and when the only experience you have is one child then its natural to look to that child for guidance but we have to remember, every baby is different. Every child has their own personality, their own view of the world and I would never want my girls to be the same. I want them to find their own way and become their own person. I want them to find their uniqueness in the world. And I certainly don't want to be the one who squashes a wish, or a trait because I was too busy comparing.

The trap is easy to fall into. Especially in the world we live in. But be careful, it can happen in your own house too and its easy to miss.

Let's all quit comparing and start celebrating our unique differences that make us who we are. One child at a time.

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