Judgment & Comparison

We all know how easy it is to fall into the trap of judging others and comparing our behavior and circumstances to those of the people who surround us.  It’s why I can’t people watch—I start judging people based on their appearances and it’s just not fair.  I don’t know their circumstances or their hearts, and I wouldn’t want someone to make those kinds of judgments about me.

So it’s easy to judge and compare.  But as soon as you become a mom it goes to a whole other level.  Why doesn’t my baby do this?  Why is my baby bigger/smaller than her baby?  Why do they let their baby cry it out?  Why do they do attachment parenting?  Why is it so easy/hard for that family?  Her baby sleeps 12 hours at night, why doesn’t mine?  Her baby only sleeps an hour at a time; she must be doing something wrong.  If she would only do XYZ, her life would be so much easier and her baby would be so much happier.  Breastfeeding.  Formula.  Vaccines.  Day care.  SAHM.  Working mom.  Blah blah blah.  It could go on and on.  Whether you think these things about others, or you have been on the receiving end, it’s just not helpful.

But it doesn’t end with judgment and comparison, because justification tends to follow close behind.  I have felt like I couldn’t tell certain people that we were co-sleeping, or that I needed to justify it to others.  Or I’ve needed to justify why we stopped!  I have felt like I need to justify why I no longer like to drive or do evening social gatherings.  I have felt like I needed to justify the needs of my child to satisfy the expectations of others.  And as I typed those words, I wanted to break down and cry.  Life and motherhood is difficult enough without trying to live up to the expectations of others.  If my baby is different from someone else’s, that’s okay!  All babies, like all adults, have different personalities and temperaments and some adapt more easily than others.  If I am unable to keep the same social calendar that I once did, that’s okay!  Priorities do change and some activities will fall by the wayside.  Some things that were and are still important have become more difficult to be involved in, but that’s okay.

The key parenting phrase seems to be “we do what works best for our family”, and we do.  We are constantly in a state of flux as our daughter grows and changes, so what works best for us one week may not the next, but that’s okay.  What is not okay is me feeling like I need to justify our decisions to others.  Yes, I can explain my thought process and garner insight from others.  I can always be learning and engaging in dialogue and work on having a teachable spirit.  More often than not, though, I don’t even think other people are necessarily looking for justification; I think it’s a burden we {I} place on ourselves {myself}.

So the bottom line for me is this: stop looking to others for validation.  Let go of the desire to please others, and instead focus your energy on giving grace as it has been given to you.

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