A story from about a year ago…
Why do I compare my girls with others? Why does it come so naturally and automatically? Is it because I want my girls to be the best? Am I validated as a mother by seeing my girls at the same level or higher than other kids? What is the reason?
An experience today made me think on this self-reflecting question. We happened to be at our church service, sitting behind a family of seven. Their second to youngest was a girl, I’m guessing around the age of four. She sat contently coloring a book, a coloring book about animals. Her page of choice had a zebra print. She began coloring and then it happened.
Naturally as she was coloring a zebra, she reached for the black crayon and began coloring every other stripe. She was coloring the zebra appropriately while also staying within the lines. I couldn’t help but think…Man, she is coloring so good. Cali is still coloring at a two year olds’ level. Of coarse immediately after having this thought cross my mind, I became frustrated at myself. How in the world is that fair to Cali? She is working so hard with Krisanne to strengthen her fine motor skills, coloring being one of them. And aside from that, why couldn’t I have looked at this little girls art work and merely thought…How nice. She is sitting there content, just coloring in her picture. She has a talent with coloring. That’s it. No comparing. No judging her and then judging Cali.
Well, what happened next really put me in my place. More than any frustration or personal repremanding would have done. I look to my right where Cali was sitting, and there she was coloring. Maybe she saw the girl in front of her and decided to pull out her own coloring book and crayons. Maybe not, but there she was coloring. Coloring better than I had ever seen her color before. No, she was not staying within the lines…not even close. But she was focused and intent on sticking to one page and using multiple colors on that single page. My feeling of frustration were immediately replaced by a bit of shame and then followed by an overwhelming sense of pride. Cali was putting all her hard work to the test and she was coming out successful. She was perfectly happy with her finished product and proud to show me as well.
As mentioned before, this experience happen almost a year ago. I wish I could say from this one experience my lesson has been learned. The truth is I do still fall short and compare both Cali and Ava from time to time. Whether it is against each other or against other friends or family members, the comparing does still happen. But I try my best to reflect on this story because it helps to remind me of a simple, important truth. Each child, each person is born an individual. No two children are the same. No two adults are the same. Comparing in order to to point out differences isn’t a problem, unless the differences cause one to judge in the negative. I was comparing Cali’s coloring with another four year olds coloring skills. When I found Cali’s skill to be behind the girl’s, I became irritated and judged. Had I simply noticed that their skill levels were different and moved on with no further thought, than the comparison would have been just fine.
Compare to notice differences or similarities with no judgments and we should be fine. Compare to notice differences or similarities with judgements and this is where we can sometimes fall into trouble.