Why We don't Have To
I'm a competitor. I like competition whether it be healthy or unhealthy. I'm like Monica from the TV series Friends.
I want everything in my life to run perfectly and I want to win at everything.
Then, I think life will end if anything less than this happens.
As this transitions over to my new title as mother, I've found myself struggling to accept that motherhood is not a competition or a picture perfect way of life. And let me tell you, it's not an easy lesson.
But my son doesn't need the pressure of competition in his life. He doesn't understand competition and he doesn't care about it. All he cares about is a full tummy, a warm place to sleep, and lots of loves and cuddles from Mommy, Daddy, and his stuffed cow Harvey.
And then it hits me. Levi is like Phoebe from Friends. He's going through life all happy-go-lucky. Only caring about the important stuff and not worrying about if he fits in with the other babies. No, he marches (or rather rolls) to his own beat and is quite content doing so. He sings his own baby variation of Smelly Cat and jives to the music of his baby jungle gym.
"Who cares if the baby down the road is crawling?" he thinks. "I've got my toys and I've got my puppy. I'm doing great!"
I wish I could have the same Phoebe personality. In fact, I wish all of us mamas could have a little bit more Phoebe in us, just like our babies do.
You see, we don't have to be constantly comparing ourselves to other Moms. We don't have to compare our babies to other babies.
It's not a race to see who can lose their pregnancy weight faster. It's not a competition to see who is the more successful business mom or the more homemakery (let's pretend that's a word) mom. It doesn't matter if you can breastfeed or if you give your baby formula. It doesn't matter if you're the mom who dresses up every single day or if you count merely putting on a bra success.
What matters is the unconditional love and support you give to your baby no matter your circumstances.
Motherhood takes on a different shape for everyone. And that's okay! It doesn't mean you're behind the pack if your baby isn't sleeping through the night yet. It doesn't mean you're coming in first place in the Mom Marathon if you're making homemade baby food and cloth diapering your child. You don't have to feel like you're not pulling your weight if you're staying at home with your kids instead of chasing a career. And you don't have to feel like you're a horrible mother who is judged by others for not spending enough time with your kids if you are chasing that career.
Motherhood is the journey a woman and her child take together on a path that's all their own. You might cross paths or walk the same bridge every now and then with another mama, but eventually your path will take a different turn. Life isn't a one size fits all kind of thing. And it's not a race against everyone else either. Life is simply a journey of lessons learned, memories made, and relationships built.
So Mama, if you're like me and struggle with comparing yourself to other moms or feel like it's a competition to get to the next milestone, take a deep breath. Go run around the park like a wild child with your arms flailing around like Phoebe does. Be goofy, be happy, and be content with where you are in motherhood. Because all too soon, our babies will be hitting milestones we're not ready for and we'll long for this time in our lives back. And the memories we'll be longing to have again won't be that time our baby walked before our friend's baby. It'll be the times our baby wanted to cuddle or when they laughed at all our funny faces instead of rolling their eyes. And I bet we won't even remember why we were always in such a hurry to get places with our babies and to prove ourselves to other mamas. We'll just remember how fun it was to watch our child grow and learn and explore life with the sweet innocence only a child can have.