Comparison, You Sneaky Thief
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When you’re pregnant, you get so much advice from everybody. Advice on breastfeeding versus formula, which sling is best for baby-wearing, whether or not to use a pacifier, crying it out versus not crying it out…It’s endless, and honestly, even if you respect the person and desire to take in some of their wisdom, you’re usually not that interested at the moment because you’re either experiencing heartburn, the all-day morning sickness, caffeine withdrawals, swollen everything, fatigue, or are just plain uncomfortable. And if you happen to be feeling decent (because you’re in your 2nd trimester most likely) when some well-meaning individual decides to impart their wisdom on you, you still kind of have this, “Yeah, yeah, ok,” internal response. You log the good stuff away and hope the preggo brain doesn’t eat it and dismiss the “I don’t know about or agree with that” stuff.
One well-intentioned warning I heard all the time was, “Everything changes with a baby.” I would smile and nod while inside I would roll my eyes and think to myself, “Well, no kidding. Of course everything changes with a baby.”
A good friend gave me her copy of Dr. Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby on the Block. He says over and over again how different a three-month-old baby is from a newborn. Again, I thought to myself, only without the eye-rolling, “Yeah, yeah. Of course a three-month-old baby is completely different than a newborn.”
The truth is, like most of life, you can hear the advice, you can read or listen to expert opinions, you can even watch others go before you, but until you really get in and experience something for yourself, you just don’t really have anymore than, well, an idea.
My daughter is about to hit that three-month milestone, and I’ll tell you, I can’t even begin to recount how many times I’ve gone, “Ah. I get it now.”
I get how everything changes with a baby.
I get how different newborns are from three-month-olds.
I get how kids can come in between marriages.
I get why yoga pants are so popular in the young mom community.
I get why Mom’s Morning Out and playdates exist.
I get why it’s so hard to go back to work after maternity leave.
I get why I have to hit my knees to the ground every morning.
And I get why Mr. Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Somewhere in my daughter’s first month of out-of-the-womb living, a dear friend of mine came over one afternoon with lunch. I had tried to make it out of the house for my first daytime social outing with baby, but we did not make it past the living room. Spit-up galore. A couple different diaper/clothing changes. Crying. Screaming. Tears. (Oh, how I HATE baby tears.) It just wasn’t happening.
I felt pretty pathetic to be honest with you.
“Why can’t I do this? According to my Instagram and Facebook feed, everyone else (because half of the women I follow on Instagram or Facebook between the ages of 25-30 had babies this summer) has made it out of the house to visit with friends by this point. But not me! Why can’t I do this?”
Not to mention everything else I felt like I was completely falling behind on:
- Not just quiet time with the Lord but ANY time with the Lord aside from praying, “Please help her fall asleep,” at 2 am. And then once she was asleep, “Lord, please don’t let her choke or suffocate or stop breathing or get too cold or too hot or let a spider crawl into her crib.” (New mommy paranoia, maybe?)
- Giving my husband my undivided attention.
- Communicating with my family. (Thank goodness for text messaging.)
- Communicating with my friends.
- Grocery shopping. (The thought of it just makes me want to laugh out loud.)
- My dogs were lucky to get fed. I mean, seriously, I was scrambling for 2 minutes to feed myself.
- Sticking to our budget.
- Being good at anything aside from producing breastmilk (which I mostly give credit to my mother’s tip to drink grape juice for the ample supply I put forth).
Meanwhile, half of the new mommies on Facebook are already looking incredibly skinny. They’re out having lunch with their husbands during the day. (“Seriously?!?!”) And baby is just sleeping in their little car seat carrier. (“Why does my baby hate her car seat carrier and this baby doesn’t?”) Or they’re exercising. Or taking their first family vacation. Or they were organized enough to schedule a newborn/family photo shoot.
And I can’t even get us out the door for lunch.
My friend arrived with those beautiful paper Panera bags. (Always bring food when you’re going to visit the mommy of a newborn.) I inhaled it while she rocked my baby girl. Once my blood sugar levels were back up to normal, I shared a little bit about how I was feeling regarding a few things on my list above. And I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but I was speaking to the thief. In this beautiful, albeit kind of crazy, season of new motherhood, I was getting so caught up with everyone else’s highlight reel on social media that I wasn’t fully savoring what I had or giving myself enough credit for what I did manage to accomplish each day. As soon as I spoke it out loud, I realized my folly.
I had let comparison steal my joy.
I had let the enemy sneak into a precious place.
Everybody says, “Enjoy this time with your new baby. Before you know it, they’ll be grown up.”
Well, she’s not grown up yet, but man, a three-month-old sure is so much different than a newborn, and that’s about as much grown up as I can handle right now. So, I get it.
And I get why so many people try to impart their wisdom on you…So you won’t be just like they were…A new mommy just trying to figure it out most of the time.
So, sure, maybe there are some new mommies out there who lose all their baby weight faster than I have, or have babies that sleep everywhere and take bottles, or get their fill of quality time with their Maker and their husband. But whether or not their season of motherhood with a newborn looks like mine, one thing is certain, comparing ourselves to each other won’t do any of us much good.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
And three months goes by too fast for any of us to afford to lose one second of the joy that comes from raising and caring for our newborns.
So comparison, you sneaky thief, I’m calling you out.
All us new mommies, we’re good without you. The fact that our motherhood journeys are different is what makes each one so beautiful. It’s ours.
I’d love to know…
When did you have your “Ah, I get it now,” moment while embarking on your motherhood adventure?
What is your first response to comparison and how do you respond to the thief?