Comparison is the thief of joy.
I hear this idea constantly in the yoga classes I attend:
Don’t worry about Betty up in the front row. She might have an amazing Handstand, but for all you know, she trained to be an Olympic gymnast from the age of 3.
Sure, she might seem to take the shapes effortlessly on the outside, but you can’t tell from looking at her if her mind is at lease, can you?
As much as the idea of non-competitiveness has been pounded into my head during my yoga studies, I will admit that when I was new at the parenting gig…. it was a BIG challenge for me not to constantly compare myself to see how I stacked up to all the other moms around me.
I was spending so much time watching the mom who managed to spend hours upon hours doting on her kids, grow a thriving business, have a great relationship, keep a neat and tidy home, be an active in her community, and, of course, look fabulous while she was at it. What’s more, when I went to meet them for play dates at the park they were ON TIME and always remembered to bring all the necessities I forgot most of the time.
I felt like a frumpy underachiever in comparison. I mean, I didn’t have it all together at all (I still don’t!). I was always late to play dates. I regularly forgot things my little one needed—especially the snacks. I was exhausted, and I wasn’t even working regularly. How people with multiple children or real jobs managed to do things like shower daily and cook healthy meals was completely beyond me! I didn’t have the energy to do ANY of that.
It could be argued that a big reason for my lack of energy was that I was wasting all of the energy I had on things that didn’t matter—like worrying that I was totally failing at this whole motherhood thing and being upset that others could make it look so damn easy!
As the lovely and wise Elizabeth Gilbert recently wrote: Mike Tyson didn’t go bankrupt because he wasn’t given enough money. He went bankrupt because he bought “10 mansions, 100 luxury cars, a golden bathtub, and THREE ALBINO TIGERS!”
All of this is to say, it’s important to be cautious about what things you’re exerting your energy on, mamas.
Is that Pinterest-worthy birthday party for your child really worth the energy you’re going to use hand making place cards so your toddler guests will know where to sit at the kiddie table (because you know they’re TOTALLY going to sit still!) If you’re doing it because it brings you great joy to create something beautiful, go for it! But that’s the only reason I can think of spend your time this way. If you’re doing it to impress your neighbors… I beg of you, please don’t!
I’m forever grateful that something magical happened for me in the course of the last 3 1/2 years. Somewhere along the way, I stopped giving a flying flip about how anyone else manages their own household and their own children. I realized that spending my time thinking about the “right” or “best” way to do things was completely useless—so many opinions! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Plus, this horrible practice was stealing from those sweet and fleeting moments where I get to just pay attention to the joys of being a mother.
You can’t fully enjoy the way your muscles feel as they’re stretching in a yoga pose when you’re busy gawking at Betty in the front row. And you can’t fully enjoy watching your child play when you’re busy beating yourself up because you forgot to bring the damn Goldfish crackers again.
Comparison not only robbed me of my ability to be present and enjoy life as a mother, but it also created an unnecessary divide between me and other moms—the very women I desperately need to surround myself with for support, connection, and laughter. (Besides, you’re the type to forget snacks, you’re going to need a friend who remembers. Trust me on this one! I write from experience.)
As moms, we all have different strengths, different circumstances, and wildly varying amounts of time to devote to our motherly duties. Some of us work full-time and do what they have to JUST GET IT DONE, while others just really REALLY like making cutesy place cards by hand. Who cares!?
As yoga students, we all come to our yoga mats with different backgrounds, activities, and with skeletons—there is no better or worse, right or wrong, just different.
We all just start where we are with the lives and bodies we’ve been given and go from there, because at the end of the day all that really matters is that your children and YOU are happy, healthy, and able to enjoy the moments that really count. Am I right?