Woman and child
Parenting, Your best self

Do you play the comparison game? Find out when it might be okay to.

She wore a bohemian dress, and had long flowing hair. I think her feet were bare, but I know her children’s definitely were. Her voice was soft and easy. Despite three children and a dog in tow she looked as though she didn’t have a care in the world. Although she was on her way to the supermarket her demeanor told me otherwise. She could have easily been strolling on the beach. I watched her, admired her sense of ease and calm as she ushered the children along. I compared my frazzled, harried state to hers… 

And I wanted to be her.

I wanted the ‘not a care in the world’ attitude it seemed she exuded. I wanted the quiet steady tone of voice she used with her children. What seems like a weighty chore to me, walking to the supermarket with three tiny humans AND a dog – seemed to be a pleasure for her.

So I wondered, could I be like her?

Firstly, let me tell you about my supermarket trips. Mostly these days, now that the youngest is a stone’s throw from four, I orchestrate it so that the older ones are in the car and can supervise, and I can go by myself. But of course there are those times when both 4 and 8 year old insist on coming in. And those times usually coincide beautifully with them being scrappy, overtired, hungry, and demanding. Because…? that’s life.

Soft, easy and calm are not what I exude whilst at these times. I am often tense, short tempered, inconsistent (no you can’t have a treat – two aisles later I cave), and completely and utterly unpresent with the moment. And let me tell you a secret – this demeanor is not reserved solely for the supermarket. I am like this often with my children. At home. At cafes. At other people’s houses.

So I see her, this woman, a stranger to me – and of course I wish I was her. She seems to have it all together (obviously her kids are angels and they live on clouds in the sky and play harps). The image of her has stayed with me all week. And here are a few thoughts I’ve unpacked.

Comparison is a game you will NEVER win.

Although I don’t know her, I created her life in my head. A five second glance at her and her tribe gave my (overthinking) brain enough ammunition to imagine the rest of her life. What the heck for you might ask?! Comparison baby. We compare ourselves to others ALL the time. Despite the fact that it’s largely detrimental, we do it anyway.

And we are told time and time again not to compare. Even with our friends whose circumstances we might be more privy to. We will never fully know what’s going on for someone else, what their struggles are, and what their life behind instagram looks like. So comparison is pointless… in this regard.

But, when is comparison okay?

But, let me play devils advocate for a moment… what if it was OK to compare yourself to the person you want to be?

When I created a life for this women I glanced at, I saw her living simply and mindfully, free and easy – ok it could have been those hippy pants – but really I did this because this is the kind of life I’m drawn to. And she, for that moment – was the kind of person (and mum) that I want to be. Poised, peaceful and joyful.

So i’m going to go ahead a compare away. But here’s the thing. I’m not comparing to a friend or even an acquaintance. I’m not comparing myself to a persona on social media.

I’m comparing myself to my future self.

And I’m doing this so that I can move forward and aspire for better. And here are the things I need to do as I journey towards my future self.

  1. Be kind to myself. I’m not there yet. I still swear under my breath at my kids far too often than I’d like. I still have days where I hop into bed and wonder what the hell just happened. I’m still too busy, and I’m still too mindless. But if I don’t give myself some tender loving care along the way then I probably won’t make it. Kindness to myself means; running, yoga, binging a good netflix show, gardening, and writing.
  2. Intentionally go slower in everything I do. Slowly wake up. Slow down while i’m driving. Slowly make dinner. No one is going to die if things are running a bit behind time. Slow down.
  3. Create space. Stop the busy. Unschedule. Say no and say yes. Give my to do list or daily schedule loads of buffer. Never bang appointments right up against each other.
  4. Let go of perfection. Every single day. So the toys aren’t picked up? So the washing isn’t folded? So I didn’t write my 1000 words? So what?
  5. Ask for help. When I’m feeling as far from my future vision of myself as possible, and I’m about to lose my crap at my offspring – ask for help. I’ve done this several times this year. Always a hard thing to do but I’ve never regretted it.
  6. And finally, pick up some mantras you can repeat to yourself and/or write on your walls. You can find plenty of inspiration on the interweb but I think deep inside we all know some truths. Here are mine.

I am good enough.

I don’t need to be perfect to be loved.

I am raising my children well.

I am uniquely made and a treasure to my creator.