Competition is an unspoken word when it comes to parenting but that doesn't mean it doesn't ripple through relationships like the beginning signs of a thunderstorm.
'Is your child walking yet'
'How many words do they say'
'What sort of food do they eat'
'Are they sleeping through the night'
Although questions appear to be innocent and interested, I always seem to fear the worst. Oh lord, she's going there. Who did it first?
Theo was, and is, an early walker, talker, great eater and fantastic sleeper. In the same breath, it took him 'longer' to sit up and to crawl, and when I went back to work, I had some days where he refused to be anywhere near me. I take the rough with the smooth when it comes to being a parent as each day can be so different! But why do I constantly feel so ashamed to say he's hit another milestone? It all stems down to those secret comparisons that we catch in 'light-hearted' conversations or the odd queried glance. When I talk about these things with close friends, I don't say it to brag or to belittle any milestones their child has/hasn't met but to show my pride in his new findings. And I feel that any parent should do this without fear of upsetting the other mums or dads at play group or in the school play ground! The psychology of being a parent is exhausting, and that's just attempting to socialise with other parents. Not even the 'Mum' part!
I don't base my happiness on how long I slept last night in comparison to the woman next door. I try to focus on what I get out of life and remember that happiness comes from within. It's bloody hard work, mind. Some days I want to curl up under the duvet with a glass of wine and sharing bag of crisps (that I have no plan to share) and revel in my own misery!
I was watching Giovanna Fletcher's chatty update videos for her sister-in-law, Carrie (check her videos out here) and she talked about how much we use others lives as a way of understanding our own success.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition to get juices flowing but how much is too much?
I mean come on, she is married to a hugely famous member of McBusted, a published author, lives in a gorgeous house near London and jets off to beautiful countries regularly with her well adjusted and bright son, Buzz. Our worlds couldn't be further apart but I still love her videos. She's down to earth, honest and humble. I don't look at her life and pity mine because without a little difference, the world would be an extremely boring place.
So how does this fit into my parenting? Teaching Theo to weigh up success based on the success of others is not something I plan to do. I plan to focus on setting goals and meeting them because, for me, it is more important to be reliable and consistent than disappointed when someone else does 'one better'. My only expectation for him in life is to be loving and compassionate as I feel once moments have passed, compassion is impossible to embed in someone. It needs to be there from day one!
I want him to appreciate the little things in life and do whatever makes him happy. Because without happiness in life, what are we living for?
What are your parenting ideals? Share below, I'd really love to know!