We were at lunch with some sweet friends last week when it happened. It was a very common lunchtime conversation moms have about this time of year, and it went something like this.
Mom A: “We are so bored, you guys. If I have to fight with them about the iPad again today, I might just lose it.”
Mom B: “Amen. When does school go back in session again?”
Mom A: “Not soon enough. Thank God for camps, though, right?”
Mom C: “Yeah, I’m ready, too…but I just have one kid, so I have no right to complain.”
And then, two hours later, it happened again on the phone.
Mom Friend: “I just don’t know how to get her to stop throwing such awful fits.”
Me: “I wish I knew. Three kids in, and I still don’t know how to diffuse some of their rants.”
Mom Friend: “It’s exhausting. I don’t know how you do it everyday, all day. I just have them nights and weekends, and I can’t even do it right.”
Six years ago, almost to the day, I dropped 12-week-old Carter off at his first day of daycare. I cried the whole way to work and everyday I dropped him off for the next nine months. It was the hardest year of my life, and I ended up in therapy for the first time since high school that spring.
I just had one kid.
I just had him nights and weekends.
Here’s the thing – life and parenting is HARD. Period. No matter the age. No matter the stage. No matter if we have one kid or twelve. No matter if we work outside the home or inside the home. No matter if we’re single or divorced or have been married 42 years.
And when we put a qualifier on our struggles like just, we discredit our struggle because someone else, it seems, has it harder. We feel as if we have to justify ourselves for thinking it’s hard because we “JUST” something…we just have one kid, we just see them after day care, we just have kids without special needs, we just have biological kids, we just have boys, we just have girls, we just stay at home…the list could go on and on.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why we do this just thing with regards to sharing our struggles, and here’s why it bothers me so much – it stems from comparison. How many times have we, as women or moms, had a conversation with a friend where we compared our children? I’m not sure I can remember a play date or a conversation I’ve had with other moms where comparison DIDN’T happen. It comes as naturally as breathing. We do it in an attempt to find common ground, but the truth is that comparing our children usually doesn’t find common ground…it usually just leaves us feeling bad about ourselves or unnecessarily worried about our children.
Oh, your kid was speaking full sentences at 18 months? Mine only said mama and dada.
Oh, your kid was fully potty-trained by two? Mine still needs a diaper at almost three.
Oh, your kid was reading by four? Mine is getting tutoring in second grade.
Oh, your kid licks the wall? Okay, yeah, mine doesn’t do that.
But, you get the point!
Can I let you in on a secret? When God created you, He created you and wired you in such a specific way that you have the exact right tools to parent the children He’s given you. No one else. Those little cherubs were made specifically for YOU. Period. There’s no need to compare when He equipped YOU for the job.
So, a favor, ladies…the next time you find yourself tempted to downplay or discredit a struggle you’re facing just because someone else seemingly has it harder, give yourself some grace. Quit the comparison trap. You are the only one in the world in your exact circumstances. Parenting your exact children.
And you know what? You are just what they need.