Beyond Comparisons: Learning to Support Each Other As Moms

kids swimmingHave you ever noticed that as soon as a group of moms gets together in a room, this weird vibe fills the air?

Every mom starts sizing up the other kids, and taking note of where her child fits in.

It can really be summed up in one word:

Comparison

Pretty soon the silent thoughts become discussion. Who’s child is developing faster, talking more, walking first…maybe even what mom had the shortest labor, or lost the baby weight quickest. It never becomes overtly mean or insensitive, but there are often underlying tones.

Even among women who genuinely care about each other, these discussion can become a little tense. I guess it’s a natural tendency to want to know how our kids measure up and find some reassurance by knowing they are on track with their peers.

These comparisons have always seemed like just an annoying part of parenting. But now they really make me feel sick. I want to put up a white flag before they start, immediately thinking, Forget about crossing milestones, I would give anything if just both my babies had LIVED. After experiencing the loss of a child, things like how soon a baby crawls, walks, talks, and feeds themselves seem rather trivial. Tragedy puts everything in a different perspective.

Comparisons are nothing new. But I never understood just how hurtful they can be to moms who have had struggles with their children, and especially, to those who have experienced the death of a child.

Not long after our loss, I had someone start in with Kyla. Assessing her development, trying to “discreetly” determine if she was living up to their standards of what she should be doing, saying, and learning. I have to admit that it hurt. I know my daughter is perfectly fine, but I guess it just took me off guard, given my recent loss of Esther.

I realized again just how ridiculous this parenting tendency is. I’ll be the first to admit that I have entered into these discussions before. I’ve looked for some reassurance, comfort, or just self pleasing sense from feeling like I’m ahead of someone else as a parent. I’m sorry now for the times that I did.

I guess this is one more thing that is hard to understand if you haven’t been there. For those of us moms who have been forced way outside the bounds of “normal”, it is difficult to listen to the comparisons about hair-do’s and reading skills. But I remind myself again, that it’s better to not understand. 

And I’m learning that while not all moms have experienced significant pain with their children, a great many have. And you can’t always tell by looking at someone what joys and sorrows their story of mommyhood includes.

Considering this, what if we as moms, dropped the comparisons? What if instead, we sought to support each other – wherever we are each at in our mothering journey?

I am so thankful for those who have graciously come alongside and encouraged me, instead of accidentally making me feel like less of a mom. I pray that I can give the same support to others.

Here are three simple things I have observed kind parents do to turn the vibes in a room, bringing a supportive atmosphere instead of a comparing one:

1. Deliberately point out a strength in someone else’s child.

2. Ask another mom about her experience with a small(non-controversial)a parenting topic, and genuinely listen.

3. Genuinely (and sensitively) acknowledge the struggle or hurt that a mom is facing, and offer to help in any way needed.

-Now I’d like to hear from you. What have your experiences been with comparisons as a parent? What have you done to deal with the issue? If you’ve experienced loss, what do you feel like when you hear these types of discussions?

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