Everyone else is already taken

Sally - Edward

 

Surely every single social media participant has been inundated over the past few years by comments about the mommy wars. I can’t count how many different mommy war blog posts I’ve seen recommended over the past few months—no offense to mommy war bloggers—I basically see the same things stated repeatedly. Stop comparing. Be yourself. Live and let live. Honor and love one another. Rejoice in your talents. These are things we really ought to know anyway, frankly. Might I suggest that moms step out of the spotlight and consider the kiddie wars? Sometimes we really dislike behavior when it is directed at us, yet completely ignore it when it is directed at others!

The kiddie wars don’t seem to evoke nearly as much frustration on the interwebs. Yet, from the instant most children are born, the comparisons begin. In most cases from one minute after birth, children are scored on how well they tolerated the birthing process. Next, four minutes later, they are scored on how well they are handling life outside the womb. These APGAR scores begin a series of comparisons and tests that our children will face for their entire lives. In some cases, mothers submit to prenatal screening and diagnostic tests, and the scoring begins in the womb!

Praise each child individually for what that child is and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough”. ~ Jeffrey Holland

From hours old, doctors begin to chart infants and compare them to growth charts of other infants. This has the potential for many issues. If the whole child and the environment is not considered, a perfectly healthy child might appear unhealthy based on the charts (i.e comparing breastfed babies’ weights to formula fed babies’ weights). Thankfully, wise doctors understand that charts are simply a tool and should be used as a small part in looking at the overall health of a child.

The same is true for milestone charts! New mothers often look to milestone charts like a parenting Bible. What new mother hasn’t looked up milestone and development charts to see if her baby is on target? These milestone expectations become the topics of mommy conversations, the basis for early competition, and the root of many worries. New moms note that baby isn’t doing _______ yet and the Jones’ baby has been doing _______ for three weeks and they are the SAME (!!) age! Consider this: before you put a whole lot of weight on the milestone charts and allow them to be anything more than a tool, read the milestone charts for teenagers! I guarantee that most of my readers would absolutely NOT consider “normal” and “acceptable” what the CDC considers normal and acceptable for the 16-19 year old range!

Lest I be misunderstood: I wholly agree that there is a purpose for tests and charts (i.e. prenatal screening may allow issues to be treated in utero or immediately after birth and the APGAR test indicates whether a newborn needs critical treatment), yet a large number of the comparisons and tests that our children face are wholly unnecessary to their wellbeing. Screening, growth charts, milestones, labels galore, standardized testing, common core, report cards…there are so many opportunities for comparisons among children! This might come as a surprise, but—while I’m not always a fan of some of the noted tools— I really don’t think they are the real issue. The real issue is the emphasis we place on them.

As mentioned—used as tools—grades and charts and other forms of comparisons may be helpful to understand a child’s progress or lack of progress. However, we are all much more than our GPA, our SAT score, our ACT score, and our BMI! Group together twenty adults and the insignificance of who crawled first, walked first or charted above average on growth charts will be obvious.

You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. ~ Doug Floyd

A wise doctor will look at the individual child’s growth curve over time and will consider the progress of each child individually! A wise teacher will look at the overall student: effort, participation, scoring, strength of character, determination. A wise parent will look at the whole child and allow that child to learn and grow at their own pace!

Sometimes comparisons are fun or silly or harmless. Still, at times they are downright detrimental. It doesn’t take a scholar to see how discouraging it is for some children to be compared to others. Often they are compared in an effort to motivate them to rise to another’s standard of performance. It is true that some people are driven by competition and will thrive under pressure. However, for others, comparisons can be discouraging and crippling. Knowing your child is absolutely imperative.

For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. ~1 Corinthians 10:12

We often don’t compare and encourage competition on purpose. Sometimes it is in the subtleties…inferences and assumptions and fears during simple conversations…mothers chatting about how many words baby says, how early baby walked, how strong baby is, how long baby sleeps. Is he a good baby? (Really, as if there is such a thing as a bad baby!)

Comparison is the enemy to creativity ~ E’yen A. Gardner

Finding joy in our children and their growth is a beautiful thing! It’s not that it is wrong to discuss our children and to be excited about their accomplishments or even concerned about their weaknesses. Yet, when we begin to compare our children to other children and expect them to rise to the occasion, we just might end up disappointed.

Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people. ~ David Sarnoff

Before we make all kinds of rationalizations about the unhealthy and unnecessary comparisons, consider how much we want to be compared to our peers. Have you ever heard a man say “I wish you could be more like ________’s wife?” Ouch! The sting! Thankfully I haven’t ever experienced that, but I have known many women who have and they did not like it. Most husbands and wives understand that comparing them to others and singing others’ praises is not encouraging.

Forget conformity. Don’t put your children in a box that most of us won’t be in ourselves. Let each one seek to be an individual – let them grow and develop their own interests. Of course, teach and train and nurture and guide…just remember that we aren’t raising automatons!

A “normal” person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee. You know, “Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray.” ~Alan Sherman

Being the best *we* can be doesn’t equate to accepting mediocrity. We don’t have to seek after average and settle for second best. We can dream and achieve and love and soar to the heavens – all at our own pace. We can develop our own talents. We can exceed expectations. We can be exceptional at one thing and not so exceptional at other things and that’s okay.

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. ~ Maya Angelou

We are raising little humans—they will grow up to be homemakers, scientists, professors, chefs, construction workers, computer scientists, preachers, coaches, athletes, authors, artists, CEO’s and so many other things. Let’s appreciate the passion of the artist, the pragmatism of the professional, and the drive of the athlete. Let’s understand the entire spectrum of personality traits and stop expecting everyone to think and act alike. It takes all of us to make this world go round –in the home, in the schools, in the workplace, in arts, in literature, in medicine! Let’s appreciate all of the talents it takes to keep it spinning!

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. ~ Apple Inc.

**Photo: Edward Selego, my nephew, who has been successful following his own dreams…

 

 

Category: Musings
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