Thursday, June 3, 2010

My son is better than your son

    When my oldest son was only about 11 months old he and I were invited to a play date at the house of a friend of mine who had a son of her own, just a few weeks younger than mine.  When we arrived there were three or four other moms there also, each with a child around the same age.  I remember clearly, watching all the other little ones sitting on the floor playing nicely while my son toddled in circles around them all.  One of the babies started to clap his hands and the others all joined in, all except my son who was too busy walking around the room to even notice.  I went home from that play date so worried.  My son had never clapped, he didn’t know how yet.  I didn’t think much about the fact that none of the other babies was walking yet but I agonized over my own son’s lack of clapping ability.  Now, all these years later it seems so silly, obviously my son was more focused on his gross motor skills to be bothered with something as trivial as clapping but at the time I really did worry.
    I should have known better than to compare my children to anyone else’s, or to each other for that matter.  But, I had already spent most of my life making comparisons so, it just came naturally to me.  I had spent my entire childhood comparing myself to my sister, who was just 18 months older than me.  I’m not sure anyone else compared us as much as I did but I grew up feeling constantly in her shadow.   My sister was always just a little older, just a little farther ahead, and always, at least in my mind, better than me.  It didn’t matter that I had a few really good friends, she always seemed to have more.  It didn’t matter that I did well in school and got good grades, teachers always seemed to like her better.  I had a way of focusing on my failures and her successes and feeling bad about myself in comparison.   Even in adulthood, I tend to compare myself to others.  I notice the success of my friends and neighbors and feel bad that I am not as good as they are.  I see other home schooling families and beat myself up for not being as organized as they are.  I hear about an acquaintance who ran a marathon and feel like my little two mile walk was practically worthless.  It seems whenever I compare myself to anyone else I always see myself lacking, yet I keep doing it over and over again.  It is so easy to see myself as inadequate next to my more successful, more accomplished friends. 
    My son, the late clapper, is now almost 9 years old.  He still prefers to be up and moving- climbing trees, riding his bike, or playing baseball rather than engaging in quiet, passive activities like practicing his handwriting or coloring in coloring books with his siblings.  Yet, he has learned to clap.  He also tests very well in all of his school subjects every year.   The point is, he is doing fine.  He is himself, not necessarily like all the other kids, but very successful in his own way.  It was useless and silly of me to compare him to others when he was a baby, just like it is when I compare myself to others.  God has not called me to run in any marathons, or to be perfectly organized.  If He had blessed me with the gift of athletic endurance or amazing organizational skills than I would be more successful in those areas.  Instead, He gave me my own gifts, talents, and strengths and it would do me a lot more good to focus on those than to worry about all that I have not accomplished in life.   In fact, if the only thing I ever do well in life is be a good wife to my husband and a good mother to my children than I will have served God in just the way He created and called me to.  And if I can serve God by using the gifts He has given me, I will be the very best at being me, which is all I should ever strive for.

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