Let’s face it…as women, we compare. All the time.
We compare ourselves to other women in areas that matters to us the most. For some of us, it may be looks or career. For me, it’s marriage and parenting. Even when I have it so good most of the time (such as in my marriage), I often find myself comparing…Is our marriage as good as theirs? When I actually type these thoughts out, they sound absolutely ridiculous (not to mention embarrassing). But they cross my mind more often than I care to admit.
I’m willing to bet money that I’m not the only one (remember, this blog is all about being real). That’s why this post is addressed to all of my categories: single, marriage, parenting, and adoption.
Single: Am I as successful in my career as the woman next to me? How is my dating life compared to theirs?
Marriage: Does our marriage appear as great as theirs? Do we have a better house/car/etc.?
Parenting : Is my child better behaved than theirs? Does my child have more accomplishments in academics, sports, etc.?
Adoption: We’ve been in this process longer, and my friends are getting their child before us. How is my child adjusting compared to other adopted children?
We thought it would end after high school. But it doesn’t. When I had my first baby, I found out that in some ways, it gets worse. Natural birth or epidural. Breast milk or formula. How long will it take for my child to sleep through the night compared to theirs? Buy or make baby food? Potty-training, swimming, reading, etc., etc. It never ends.
Probably the most humbling experience for me in this area has been my adventure of raising Peanut. I know, I talk about her all the time. Honestly, I feel like so much of my life’s lessons, callings, challenges, and blessings are all wrapped inside that little body of hers. Before she was born, I was sure that I would be a good mother. I was confident. I would look at out-of-control kids at the mall and would think to myself, “When I become a mother, my children will never behave like that.” I come from a culture where good manners and behaviors are valued above all else. There’s a lot of shame associated with those who would not fit into the “well-behaved box.” In this type of culture, I excelled as a child. I was like Apostle Paul, who said he was like “a Hebrew of Hebrews”; I added zero shame to my Japanese heritage.
Then came my Peanut. To her, lines were meant to be crossed, and authorities were meant to be challenged. If I tried to put her inside a box, she was determined to get out. To this day, even if she’s not being blatantly defiant, she is plain…weird (I mean, “unique”). The other day, we were in the garage, getting out of our minivan. I was helping LittleBit out of her car seat. I looked over at Peanut who was standing by the door, and she was licking the doorknob, just for her own amusement. There are so many moments like this with her that simply makes me wonder, “Why?”
She is different. She is not easy to raise. These two truths have been so hard for me to swallow. I crave normalcy, easy, fitting in, etc. If I do stand out, I want to stand out for excellence. Peanut just stands out. Period. She has so much energy, so much to say, so much to explore…and so much she desires to control. I don’t know any other child like her.
Next came my second child, LittleBit. Now, she’s no low maintenance either when she reaches her limit and blows up. However, those moments do not characterize her overall personality. For the most part, she’s easy-going. She actually loves to please others. She is very affectionate. She does not respond to everything with a challenge. She makes me realize, “Wow, so this is what other moms are talking about, when they say how blissful early motherhood is.” Okay, don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I never had blissful moments with Peanut. Of course I did. They were just overshadowed by the many challenges I faced. So when this second child who fit more into my ideal came, guess what happened. I actually became more jealous of other moms who had “easy” children like LittleBit. I thought to myself, “So this is how easy some moms have it.” There you have it – another raw, embarrassing revelation of my inner thoughts.
For some of you, it may be your marriage. It may be finances. It may be that you’re single and have been waiting for so long, and all your friends seems to be on their third child. We all have one or two areas where we face challenges others don’t seem to face. We compare. We desire for our challenges to be lifted (for me, I’m constantly tempted to wish: When is she going to get easier?).
Then I remember. As God’s beloved child, every season of my life has a purpose, whether it be easy or difficult. I am amazed by God’s infinite wisdom. What better child to place into my hands than one who will break me free of my perfectionist ideals, who will humble me in my area of pride, and who will help me grow as a person more than I ever did? I can’t think of a more perfect match than Peanut and I. She needs more of my guidance and structure; I need more of her carefree spirit and sense of humor. She’s learning to see more of life through my eyes, and I’m learning to see it through hers. Raising her has been such a humbling, growing, rewarding, incredible journey for me….and this is only the beginning. As I look back on the last five years, I am in awe. I am so honored that God trusted me enough to place her under my care. I believe with all of my heart that her life is meant to stand out…for God. I was given the front-row seat to watch it unfold. Her leadership instincts, her intelligence, her perseverance, her strength, her caring heart….in all these and more, I see glimpses of so much potential. She is, without a doubt, one special little girl.
If I focus on other people’s lawns, I will miss out on all of this. But if I water my own diligently, I will see my greatest challenges transformed into my greatest treasures.
I wholeheartedly agree with whoever came up with this phrase: “Grass is greener where you water it.”
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!