Tonight I was out watering my plants. It had been a difficult night. E had thrown multiple tantrums starting when I got home from work and all the way through dinner. I was thankful to be outside with the only sounds being the water coming out of the hose, and the crickets, birds, and frogs and toads. I was taking my 10 minutes, and I was finally feeling like I could take a breath.
It was trash night. Neighbors were one by one rolling their trash and recycling cans to the end of their driveways as dusk started to fall. I heard the distinctive ‘rolling’ sound coming from a couple of houses down, and I look up. It was a neighbor I had met only once last summer at her and her husband’s garage sale. I was coming back from a walk with E in our stroller, and after introducing myself, they were asking me about our stroller selection. Conversation ensued. Since then, we haven’t engaged in any other conversation.
On this particular evening, I noticed she was rolling her trash can down the driveway, carrying her little one on one hip, wearing a pretty dress. My mind immediately went into comparison mode. Thoughts like ‘she must have it all together; rolling her trash can down, baby in one arm, wearing a dress’. While I’m wearing my totally beat up garden shoes, and my ‘pre-pajama’ outfit (an outfit you change into after work, but before actual pajamas). As my brain went down the ‘comparision rabbit hole’, I caught myself.
What good was this doing for me?
What good was this doing for my mental health?
Why was I putting myself through this?
And more importantly, how the heck do I know anything about her situation? The answer is I don’t. At all. For all I know, her husband was out, and she hadn’t had a chance to change after getting home. Or maybe she has been feeling down and just wanted to dress up to make herself feel better. Or maybe she just wanted to take the trash out, holding her kiddo in a pretty dress (either way, you rock, mama). Or maybe, or maybe, or maybe. There are hundreds of possibilities. The important thing is that I don’t know. And because I don’t know, making up these ridiculous assumptions about something I know nothing about, and then comparing myself to these unknown ridiculous assumptions is well, ridiculous.
Ladies, mamas, friends, sisters, life can be hard enough without us making ourselves feel bad. My advice to you and to myself if that we need to start being more compassionate to ourselves and focus on what is in front of us instead of what we think others have or don’t have.
This particular scenario reminds me of that quote that goes something along the lines of ‘Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.’
This includes you.