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Rule 28: Dare to Compare

Aug 22, 2008
Tia Yates is a Legal Assistant in house for Washington Mutual Bank, the loving wife to William and a grateful Mom to four active boys ages 2-14.

Comparison is comfortable. We compare prices and nutrition labels at the grocery store. I certainly compared my babies to my friends; percentiles, sleeping habits, first words and steps. It was not a far slide into comparing myself to other moms - unfortunately with an obscured view.

I watched these "all together" women with an amazing talent for keeping it all running smoothly. Never missing the PTA meeting, always able to manage their work schedules around the school events and making adorable snacks. They were the poster moms for "having it all." I, on the other hand, felt like I was always running late, taking every shortcut I could find, and collapsing into bed at night. I didn't realize it, but comparing myself to those moms was driving how I was living. It made me very critical of myself and in turn my family.

I had always shied away from sharing too much with moms at school or other activities. I didn't want them to see that I occasionally dropped the ball in my juggling act. It was bad enough that I felt judged by the stay at home moms. I was horrified when I would forget until the last minute that it was our week to bring snack, and I had to buy something from the store! They would never serve a store-bought snack! My husband would tell me I was being irrational, but I could not help it. I was so thankful when our school district mandated store bought items for school.

When my third son came along our lives changed a little more then we expected. Eventually he would officially be labeled "developmentally delayed," but the path it took to get there, filled with specialists, and therapy appointments, sleepless nights and heavy-hearted days made me stop comparing myself to other moms. Not because I had had an epiphany. I wish. It was because I did not have the energy.

I also got to know a lot of my "pedestal" moms better. They would ask how therapy was going, or if we had attained this or that goal, and suddenly their guards were down. I learned that they had their mom at home to help keep house or bake cupcakes for them, or a part time job out of their house that allowed for more flexibility in schedule.

As things settled into life as we know it today, I realized how much more I enjoyed working the book fairs and attending the fundraising events for the kids' schools or sports. I don't kick myself if it does not all work out perfectly, and I am not able to make every single event. I love the contributions I do make because I am doing it for myself and my children now, and not because I am trying to be like someone else, or because I will feel like I am less of a mom if sometimes I can't swing it.

Today I love that I can accept myself as a good mom, and while I still catch myself measuring my birthday party planning skills to another mom's (I did once make a piņata from scratch, and I won't be doing that again), I don't let it dictate what I do, or how I feel about myself or my family.

Last week a friend in our moms group compared herself to me. I was taken aback because I had never imagined anyone doing that. I was happy to have the opportunity to share with her that I have a Mom who helps me shuttle kids around, and a babysitter who will pull out all the stops for me.

At the end of the day, we all have different energy levels, priorities, talents, and the biggest differential of all - we all have different children. Next time you feel the urge to critically compare yourself to another mom, think of three things you are great at...and remember you fit your family perfectly.

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008.
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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