Month 14: Compare and Despair

I’m bummed today, people. I’ve fallen into that snake-pit-of-despair: comparing myself to other people. We all know we shouldn’t do it. You can’t win that game. There’s ALWAYS someone richer, prettier, more well rested, and with a better social life than you, or whose kids are better behaved and better dressed than yours. Always. But still, we do it. Why, oh why, do we torture ourselves so?

I know why I do it. (Or how I justify it to myself.) Because I spend most of my days in my house, alone but for a tiny person with limited conversational skills and limitless energy. I have no one to give me feedback on how I’m doing: “Great job on that peanut butter sandwich, Mom! Way to wipe those counters!” I have no one to bounce ideas off of: “What do you think about making our own toothpaste?” (I’ve tried calling my husband at work. He always gets a sudden important call and has to go.)

All I have to benchmark myself against are the images of moms portrayed in the media and my perceptions of the moms I know in real life. First off: Gwen Stefani? She walks around in high-fashion outfits she designs herself that coordinate with her adorable son and her equally adorable husband. Plus, she still shows off her midriff. Whereas my belly button has never recovered from being turned inside-out for months on end and will never again see the light of day. Also, I’m lucky if my son’s socks match each other, let alone the rest of his outfit. Conclusion: I suck.

Closer to home: that lady at the park who proclaims about her baby, “I just love this age. Then again, every age is a great age.” And she’s dressed in clean, stylish athletic attire that was purchased in the last decade and she has good hair. Also, no bags under her eyes and no Starbucks clutched in hand. Whereas I’m thinking, “Thank GOD my son is FINALLY sleeping through the night and I will absolutely KILL myself if he doesn’t figure out soon how to come down the stairs without splitting his face open.” Plus, I have to mainline half a pot of coffee and apply spackle to my crow’s feet before leaving the house in a 10-year-old ripped college T-shirt. Conclusion: I suck.

You know the funny thing, though? I’m sure that on a good day, someone has spied me, say, at the grocery store after I’ve left the gym on a day I managed to work out, when my son is acting especially cute, and I’ve decided to spring for organic grapes so I can go home and make a fruit salad from scratch, and that woman thinks, “Man, she really has it all. I suck.” And to her I say: it’s just your perception, sweetie. I’m a regular mom with good hair days and bad, just like you.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: The next time you’re tempted to count your shortcomings, count your blessings instead. (Yeesh, that was cheesy, huh? Sorry. I suck.)


Shawn said...

I guess I compare, too. The truth is I think that people have to have better lives than we do because we have NO ONE around. Now that we're parents, our single friends avoid us, other married friends seem busy with their families and our families as mentioned in my other comment, are lame. Even my inlaws, who live nearby, don't visit.

We should meet for coffee and shopping at Trader Joes sometime.

Anna said...

I wonder if all women do this? It's really hard to look at your own life, your own body, and understand that you're fine just the way you are and that you're doing a great job.

I just keep telling myself that everyone's different, no one is perfect. Who knows what these women's lives are really like? And I know for a fact that I've got it pretty good.

writermama said...

OMG, this is hilarious! And so true.

And I bet you are right, even worn out moms have their bright moments, and surely that would be when other moms would decide they "have it all."

Libby said...

Thanks for the honesty. We've all been there. Last summer me and some Mom friends met for a big playdate at a park near a more trendy coastal town, where many other people showed up for the same thing. Two trendy looking Moms showed up...thin, beautiful, put together. My friend Jen said to me, "Look at her, cute, nails done, make up, cute shoes and me in this dumpy sweatshirt. Look at my nails! I'm being so superficial I know." It's universal I think. My friend Jen always looks put together and doesn't leave the house without lipstick (or tries not). Compare we must, for we are women. Just can't let it eat us alive.

Liza said...

I feel like a perpetual member of the "I suck as a mom" club, so I can definitely relate.

I rarely see kids who aren't better behaved than my son, who isn't a bad kid, just very, ummm, lively and curious. I can still remember the pitying looks we got in an airport terminal, when he kept running away from me and laughing (alternating with laying down on the floor and refusing to move) when we had to get to the gate for boarding.

LisaCate said...

If you suck so do I. I'm lucky if I get a shower - much less a "clean" change of clothes every day!

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