When Comparison Overtakes the Joy of Motherhood

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Comparison | Central Mass MomWhen my husband and I left the hospital with our beautiful baby boy nobody snuck us a guide of what we should do next. Fast forward almost two years and we still have no clue what we are doing, but we are slightly more confident in the choices we are making. Parenting is weird. You simply don’t know what you don’t know. There is nothing to really prepare you like jumping in and learning how you are going to survive. Soon enough you learn about developmental milestones and that is when the danger of drawing comparisons begins. There are going to be many different challenges in parenting, but comparing your child to Timmy from Wednesday’s playgroup shouldn’t be one of them. Hopefully, this post will bring peace of mind to those of us who feel trapped in the recurring comparison nightmare.

There will always be times when comparison creeps in and festers its way to overanalyzing and overcomplicating things.

For me, it all started when my son was a week old and his weight was in the lowest percentile. That was when I obsessed about how much he was eating and if I was doing the right thing by continuing to breastfeed instead of switching to formula. (Sidenote: I completely support fed is best and you as the mama should decide what is best for your baby.) During this time, though, if anyone from family members to strangers walking by even mentioned his size I started to have an internal freak-out.  Nobody ever meant any harm. I was simply comparing him to how much I thought he should weigh.

When you are an overtired and overanalyzing mom, scrolling through Facebook, or any social media, in the wee hours of the morning is always a bad idea.

While scrolling one morning I knew this needed to end. I saw a friend holding her newborn and I had actually wished my son looked more like that sweet baby, instead of realizing he was perfect the way he was. I knew I was doing everything I could to feed my son, but subconsciously I couldn’t shake off those toxic thoughts. Eventually, he gained more weight and the comparisons subsided. I wish I could tell myself two years ago to let go of the doubt and focus on all the joy of being a first-time mama. 

Learning to Talk

My son learning to talk evoked another trap into the comparison game. Being around other toddlers at playdates and storytimes, I was unconsciously comparing their word count with my sons. Before I even realized it, comparing stole some of the joy out of the progress my son made. I began noticing that when people asked how my son was doing, I was downplaying his other accomplishments. I started conversations with “He was an early walker, but…” It was unfair. I realized we could only support him going forward in the best way that worked for him. It didn’t matter that our friend’s 15-month-old could say his own name and make all the animal sounds. We decided to look for resources to focus on better ways to help our son progress at his own pace. That was when we started seeing more progress in our son’s language development and now we celebrate every small success. 

Looking back at moments like these scattered throughout the last two years, I can easily see where comparison overtook joy.

I believe everyone can struggle with this, but it can sometimes be even more amplified when women become mothers. We want what is best for our children, but we have to realize that it may look different for us. It’s great to hear what works for Anna from gymnastics or what your mom did, but those are just suggestions. In my experiences, there was nothing wrong with my son and I was doing what I thought was best. Instead, I allowed how other babies were eating or what other toddlers were saying to influence how I felt. 

Comparison is a thief. 

I am now learning to identify when those moments of doubt cloud my own judgment and change my mindset instead. Being a mom, I would argue, is one of the toughest jobs you can do, but it is amazing. Focusing on the progress my son has made and where I am now in my journey as a mom has helped me to be more grateful and reclaim the joy of motherhood.

 

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Brittany and her husband, Harry, met during their freshman year of college in Worcester and fell in love with Central Massachusetts. A lot of things changed quickly once they graduated from college. They were married in 2017, had their first child in 2018, recently bought their first house, and baby #2 is on the way. Having grown up in Connecticut and Maine the couple wanted to create a home in New England not far from their families. Brittany spent three years after college in her lifelong passion, teaching. She was a third-grade teacher and now implements her teacher mindset while staying home with her son. Brittany loves meeting moms in the area, taking her son on adventures outside, and exploring local parks and libraries. She believes resources for new moms are a must and she is excited to be a contributing writer for Central Mass Mom.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this, Brittany. This is all SO true. I compare too and I know I shouldn’t. I want to stop TODAY! We are all watching our babies grow and learn at their pace. That should be enough, every day. <3

  2. Thank you so much Ari, I am glad this could be a reminder to just enjoy today and every stage your little one is going through.

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