“How did it go?” I asked cheerfully, waiting for the obvious stormy answer.
“Everyone is better than me, even the younger ones! It’s not fair, I don’t have a dad to play with at home!”
We talk about it, in the course of the conversation, I say too many wrong things and not ONE right one. It’s a normal day, and I pray for the right words that never seem to come out of my mouth.
The conversation ends with, “Bud, you can’t compare yourself to others. You want something bad enough, then get used to working for it.”
No one wants to hear those words; no mama wants to have to say them, again. Wouldn’t it be great if this life was easy? If the kids always made the team, had good grades, and a giant pool of best friends that always played well? Doesn’t always seem that others have those things we desperately crave?
I say those words to him, just as much to myself. In fact, reminding myself not to compare is a daily task that I have yet to perfect.
I see my married friends juggling their kids. I’m jealous, it looks easier to have a spouse than do it alone. In fact, I KNOW this to be true, even if it’s no longer true for me. But I don’t know the conversations behind closed doors, and if they both are helping the other. I can’t compare my life to theirs simply because I don’t know the battles they face.
The kids sit quietly at the restaurant. They are happy and grateful for the chance to eat out. My kids are loud, and won’t sit still. They are tired and whiney; wanting things and unhappy with hearing “No,” yet again today. I’m tired. I don’t understand why they are this way today when it’s never been ok. I shut my eyes, and repeat over and over, “You love your kids. They are good kids, just not behaving today. Don’t compare your kids to others. You don’t know the story.” This is so true, days later. I don’t know the challenges the other kids face. Don’t compare your kids, we are ALL doing the best we can.
I see my divorced friends juggle their kids between two homes and their babies still have two parents, even if the relationship is not perfect. I can’t compare divorce to death. Neither is easier or better. Two parents with a lot of hurt feelings is not easy for kids or parents. (I know this because I was once a child from two houses.) It looks easier because it’s not my life.
Don’t compare your body to hers,” I say all of the time. “You workout, eat healthy (and you can always eat healthier), and constantly move. One person’s body is not the same as another’s. Don’t compare. Comparing makes you quit.”
The hardest of all: Don’t compare your life now to life then. We are a family that has been forced to start over. Yes, remember the memories, love them, cherish them, but don’t live in them. Don’t compare life to how it was before. It’s not the same parenting alone, as well as amongst grief. Do your best today; and forget how you did it in the past. Don’t compare this life to the last one.
Seeing the greener grass is the easy thing to do. Enjoying the brownish, slightly overgrown grass in your yard is a key to happiness. Don’t compare. Enjoy. Work. Live life today.