Photo Credit: Jennifer Aline Graham
Being a mom of twins, I walked into motherhood knowing comparisons would probably happen. I also knew it was something I had to do my best to stray away from. I have officially learned how difficult it is not to compare your children and not to compare yourself to other moms – even when you try desperately not to. Every single day, I make comparisons and every single day, I try to stop myself. This has become an ongoing battle and simply knowing other people genuinely fight this same battle makes it a little bit easier of a pill to swallow.
However, it still leaves me feeling like one heck of a guilty mom.
Stopping your brain from switching to comparison mode is incredibly tough. I have made comparisons with my girls more times than I can count. Way too many times, I have also compared my parenting style and postpartum body to other moms. Though these things happen almost automatically, I understand the true negative impact that happens when comparisons are made. I also fully understand how unhealthy it is to do these things.
I also know I am human and a work-in-progress.
Since my twins were born, I have been comparing them to one another. While one would sleep soundly, the other would sleep with her eyes half-open and rolling around. Immediately, I thought something was wrong with her. I soon found out she had active REM sleep patterns and she was completely fine. While one would giggle and roll around with ease, the other was a little more serious with her actions and would take her time moving around. While one would pick items up using the pincer grip, the other didn’t want to even try using her fingers. One has a larger vocabulary and the other babbles more and uses words less.
No matter how many times I tell myself that my girls are fraternal and very different human beings, I continue to compare them. Why? Because it is a normal human process to do this.
On top of comparing my twins to each other, I actively compare myself to other moms. Every time I make a comparison, it crushes my self-esteem and as someone who struggles with mental health, this is not a healthy concept. I have friends who had babies around the same time I did who are down below their pre-pregnancy weight. Me? I wear two pairs of Spanx almost every day under my clothes to suck in my loose skin. Some moms are all about nursing and breastfeeding and since I decided to supplement, I feel judged by them for making this choice. Many moms constantly dress their babies in cute, matching outfits while I often just throw them in a onesie and leggings and call it a day.
Do these thoughts and comparisons make me a bad mom? Absolutely not. Moms, we know comparisons shouldn’t happen, but they do and they will. It is up to us to do our very best to push these thoughts aside and replace them with more positive ones – not matter how tough that may be.
Thoughts to Remember When Comparisons are Made
I follow enough “Mom-Bloggers” on Instagram and have read Rachel Hollis’s Girl, Wash Your Face. I have talked with my friends who are in the exact same boat as me and I have gone to counseling. I know the importance of staying true to your personal parenting style and staying true to the person you are.
Is it easy to do this? No. Is it possible to improve? Absolutely.
I learned during my pregnancy and over the last year and a half of motherhood how crucial it is to stay positive. I experienced an extremely stressful, un-enjoyable pregnancy and for most of the first year of motherhood, I was a miserable wreck. Over these last several months, I have finally started to see the world around me with a little more clarity for the first time since my surprise pregnancy was thrown at me. Though comparisons are still made, I am slowly learning what can be done to avoid these natural thoughts and how I can replace them with healthier ones.
Here are some thoughts that may be helpful when comparisons come to mind:
- You are your own person and there is no other mother quite like you. It may be cliché, but it is true. I constantly compare myself to other moms, but the thing is - many of them aren’t twin moms. Most of them also didn’t have to up and leave their job, friends, and family to create a lifestyle that would benefit their children. Every single mother is different, and every single mother has gone through something you cannot quite understand. It is what makes us unique.
- You are doing the best you can for your baby. Again, cliché, but when it comes to making comparisons regarding a parenting style, it can be hard to shake the emotions that come with it. Remembering that you are doing everything in your power to have your little one live a worthwhile life is important. The life you are bringing them up in is not the same life your best friend’s baby is living or your cousin’s baby or your sister’s. You are doing you – and that is good enough.
- Your body has been through a lot. Whenever I see a new mom who magically got her abs back a week after her newborn was born, I jealously grimace. However, I try to replace that grimace with the thought that my body stretched and shifted to support two human beings. That in itself is a huge, amazing thing. Thinking about the truth behind what your body went through can sometimes make that jealously turn more into personal self-admiration. The human body is a miraculous thing.
You Are Not Alone: Real Moms Discuss Their Urges to Compare
Photo Credit: Renee’ Saraceni
“[I compare my house to] other moms’ houses. How are they so clean? When is there time in the day to keep it looking so perfect. I also mom shame myself for not doing more crafts and things with the girls, I’m a teacher I should be better at it. I see other mamas making all these things and I feel bad we don’t always do those little things. I compare my kids with each other. Amalea was talking by now. I think Amalea knew a few more signs than Kenny. But Kenny has a lot of teeth and is a giant already walking. I know they are different and will do different things at different times. They were both born the extract same weight!”
– Renee’ Saraceni, mom of two
“I try very hard not to compare myself to other moms. However, I do have one mom-friend whose son is 1.5 weeks older than Wesley who every time we get together, it seems like all she wants to do is compare parenting and the boys. I don’t enjoy those visits as much anymore because I really would rather not feel like it's a competition. As for comparing children that's a slightly different story. My nephew is three weeks older than my Wesley. He started walking at nine months, Wesley was 13.5 weeks. My nephew started saying two-word phrases about six months ago, Wesley is just starting now. I could go on and on. When I catch myself comparing them, I have to tell myself to stop. Wesley is learning these things at his own pace not mine (I'm even a special education teacher - so that shouldn't come as a shock to me).
- Lacey Deiter, mom of one
“I was pregnant at the same time as one of my best high school friends... like down to the due date. I was exhausted & nauseous, I had migraines, and was a lethargic blob. She had MORE energy & worked out every day. I still drank my allotted amount of coffee and ordered my 2oz of wine with dinner, while she wouldn’t touch any caffeine or alcohol, not even a sip. And she was doing this for herself and her baby, but I couldn’t help but think I was already a bad mom. And that carried over into having our babies as well. If her son rolled over, I worried why my baby hadn’t yet. She’s still breastfeeding while back at work, and I opted for formula to make it easier on myself but I did wonder... “am I a bad mom because I stopped breastfeeding?? She’s making it work, why couldn’t I?” Finally, and vainly, we were different shapes before we were pregnant, while we were pregnant, and now post-partum as well. She bounced back to her normal self the day after she brought her baby home. Meanwhile, I’m currently sitting at my desk with my jeans unbuttoned.”
- Gracie Prendergast, mom of one
“I always compare myself. Not so much the kids because kids are SO different and learn and grow differently. But I always compare if I'm doing enough, if I'm present enough, how do they have that energy, how do they have that MONEY to do those things.”
- Leah Gemmati, mom of two
References: Statements from “real-life” moms who gave consent to use direct quotes (via Momhood Mayhem on FB and the.write.mama on IG)
Jennifer Aline is a coffee addict, mama of twins, and a passionate freelance writer and author. She writes for Moms.com on a regular basis and has had articles in publications such as the NY Daily News, NY Post, and In Good Health Newspaper. Aline received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies from Keuka College and worked in the Human Services field before her two little girls entered her life. Aline now focuses primarily on writing, teaching aerial arts classes in the evenings, and caring for her twin daughters – all while continuously chugging coffee, of course.
Facebook: Momhood Mayhem