We’ve successfully attended our first two sessions of ECFE class and neither of us could be happier! Clementine loves going to “coo” and has been surprisingly independent and comfortable walking away from me and playing with all the fun toys. It’s a class of about 6 kids and their moms and they all range between the ages of 12 and 24 months, so there’s a lot of parallel play going on. Most of the kids just walk by, bump into or casually take something out of another kid’s hands and without thinking, move along to the next shiny object or noise making contraption. It’s like, they’re socializing…but in a weird nonverbal way. It’s been nice for me, on the other hand, to share stories and get to know other people who aren’t drooling or pooping all over themselves all the time. I don’t really feel like our lives or life philosophies line up, which can make it hard to feel genuinely connected to someone, but the nice thing about kids, is that most people experience and struggle and enjoy many of the same things – no matter what type of life they lead. “Candice” might live in a 5 bedroom house on Lake Minnetonka with her family of 3 and enjoy frequenting the country club while sipping on her daily Starbucks Latte, but her kid is still not sleeping through the night, had gas at 2 am, got a weird rash and insists on covering himself in pasta sauce. Different lives. Same lives. I kind of love that about these groups. We are all so different, yet so similar. Today, a few of us were sharing how frustrating it can be to even talk about a one year old who still struggles with sleeping through the night. Like we should be ashamed or are crazy for not insisting they do. Our teacher reassured us that every family is different and every child is different. One book or sleep method might work for one kid, but not another and we should be OK with it, making changes and establishing routines, guidelines and goals that best fit our family. Raising kids is tough and, yes, there are a lot of really great ideas out there to strive for and try, but if something doesn’t work, or feel right, then try something else. As mothers, we get so caught up in what the rest of the world, our friends, our family and the neighbor down the block is doing, that we forget our child is unique. A unique child fights a unique battle and requires unique armor with a unique set of ideas. If we all lived in a cave and had nothing to compare to, we would never second guess ourselves, get jealous of what other families have accomplished or envy the amount of sleep other parents/child are getting. Today, ECFE reminded me that it is more important to value the successes, celebrate the accomplishments and bask in the little heart melting moments that our children bring than it is to beat yourself up after you realize you or your child might be ahead of or behind someone else. We all come from different places and value different things, but we also share a lot of the same experiences while raising a family. Different lives. Same lives. Embrace you and your child’s unique way of doing things. Quit comparing. You’ll be happier and maybe allow yourself to actually enjoy all the wonderful things you’ve forgotten while you were comparing.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt