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June 28, 2013

Toddlers, Tiaras, and Thievery

Image: Flickr/Aman Singh

Image: Flickr/Aman Singh

“You know mom just watches it to feel good about herself.”
This was the explanation my daughter gave my son for why I, an intelligent and normal mom, was watching Toddlers and Tiaras.
Dang! I hate it when kids tell the truth. And I admit that I do feel rather superior after watching an episode.
 At least I’m not that obsessed with my kids.
I would never put such high demands on my kids like those moms.
At least I don’t spend $1200 on a stinkin’ dress for a 6 year old.
That poor girl is going to need some serious therapy… like right now.
One of the characters, a Russian mail-order-bride mom, who admitted that she’s seriously competitive, threatened to pull her daughter from the competition because the emcee cut short her daughter’s performance. And then there was the mom who seriously neglected her own appearance and health while spending countless dollars on her daughter’s fake tans and false teeth.  (Yes, “flippers”…you know, to cover up the baby teeth). Don’t get me started.
It’s amazing and yet embarrassing how spending 60 minutes watching T & T will raise my spirits as a mom.  You know what, though? I’m a seriously flawed mom, too. I’ve been known to be a little too competitive at the field day tug-of-war. (Yes, I was the maniac on the sideline screaming, “Dig! Dig! Pull! Pull!”). And there might be some less-than-stellar mom jeans that I’ve worn in the way past in the back of my closet. Maybe.
At the end of the day, we are all broken. We are all messed up, screwed up, make mistakes, and have enormous blind spots. No matter how hard we try, we all have areas in our parenting where we need to improve.  Most of us realize this, yet we still feel that pull to compare ourselves to other parents. And usually when we do, we have one of two reactions. We either feel so much better about ourselves (like me after watching T & T) or we feel awful, less than, a failure. We all know that mom who seems to have the patience of Job or can plan the most elaborate birthday party out of popsicle sticks and cotton balls. She seems to have it all together and it makes us sick.
I actually had a woman tell me once that she thought I was that mom. She’d seen me arrive at church week after week with 3 children (all under the age of 4), looking so pulled together with everyone dressed so nicely. All I could think was, “Are you kidding me?” If she could have followed me around that morning she would have seen a ridiculously frazzled mom, scrambling to throw on a little mascara between nursing, changing diapers, and sarcastically griping at her husband about how he could help out a little more! Ah, yes. The epitome of perfection!
No, we are all a little flawed but all have great strengths as well. The problem with comparison is that we focus on the wrong things. Rather than embracing our strengths, we see them as lacking when compared to someone else; and rather than realizing our need to change in other areas, we feel self-righteous that at least we’re not like her.
Theodore Roosevelt said it best: Comparison is the thief of joy. Oh, I love that. When I compare myself, I lose out on the thrill of being the mom I was created to be. I forget that I have taught my kids to make a mean chocolate chip cookie. I lose sight of the fact that I’m darn good at creating fun memories with my kids and that they actually enjoy spending time with me. Comparison robs us; it gives us a false sense of who we are.
So today, how can you gain a realistic picture of who you are as a parent? How can you embrace your strengths and enJOY being a parent?
Me? I’m headed to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

One thought on “Toddlers, Tiaras, and Thievery

  1. T & T and Honey Boo Boo, two shows I cannot stand. The Roosevelt quote is new to me and it is thought provoking. Today my kids and I played outside for an hour, riding bikes and blowing bubbles. I was the “best dad ever.” Afterward, we cleaned all the lost and forgotten toys underneath my son’s bed. All of a sudden it became the “worst day of (his) life.” We were making his room a mess and he didn’t want anyone else playing with those toys. I think I saw both sides of myself today, but that room sure is clean now!

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