Friday Food for Thought: Comparison

A few weekends ago, my husband was spending time with friends and they asked why he doesn’t hang out any more. “Is the wife chaining you to the dining table?” one joked. Another asked if he had gotten old and boring. “Nope, I just really enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter.”

Happy hour is from 5-9 or so each weekday. At that time, I am battling DC traffic or its Metro system to get home. Karl is at home, prepping dinner or prepping himself to teach yoga. We eat dinner, we give Emerson a bath, we read bedtime stories. By 9pm we’re pretty worn out and proud of ourselves if we can get through a DVRed episode of a sitcom without one of us falling asleep.

Weekends for most are full of tailgates, couples camping trips, brunches, shopping trips, art classes, adventure parks, and cocktail parties. However, after a busy week we desire a weekend not scheduled from dawn to dusk. It’s far more decadent for us to lie in bed until 10am on a Sunday, watching The Last Unicorn on the iPhone.  To be able to go for our post-ballet class Girls Only trip to Starbucks and take all the time we want.  To have that time where Karl and I are together as a couple not folding laundry, prepping food, discussing finances, scrubbing toilets, bickering over petty household issues, or plotting out the next week’s schedule is heaven and something that is truly treasured.  To have time to have a conversation with Emerson, get to know her as a person is something I think we all treasure.

We’ve caught ourselves attending events and over scheduling ourselves so we don’t seem lame to or miss out. We feel guilty for neglecting our friends, not having Emerson attend more classes and events. We hear what other families do, and see it on social media and wonder if we’re doing life wrong. When we try to live the life of others, and we feel stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated. The other night after an action-packed day we asked Emerson what her favorite part was. “Waking you up and snuggling in your bed,” she said.

No one does their life better than another. It’s silly to compare yourself to others, especially when in this world of Facebook and Instagram you’re only getting the “cool” or “pretty” version.  Be it your social life, your love life, or your wardrobe; do what feels right to you, what feels right to your specific situation, your specific life, your specific soul.  Don't create a life for your virtual friends, create a life for your reality.  It’s awesome if you are able to better balance social and family time than we are, and it’s also pretty awesome if you have no desire for balance and just want to hole up with your family and do a whole lot of nothing that feels like everything. Only you know how to best be you, and you are a pretty spectacular human being.

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  1. Fran P
    December 4, 2014 / 6:26 pm

    Bravo! .. I especially like: “Don’t create a life for your virtual friends, create a life for your reality.” … Looking at social media, I sometimes feel like my life isn’t up to par with everyone else’s. Thank you, Allie, for reminding me that this life I choose to live is the best life for me.. Your blog always inspires me.

  2. Tracey Southwell
    November 28, 2013 / 8:14 am

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. My ‘babies’ are now 18 and 20. It is a new era for us as a family. This lesson is one I learned years ago, yet still have to have it ,drummed into me by the Universe. I am, alas, comparative by nature, it seems. Thanks Ali. And thanks for being a woman who stands up for her own convictions, we help each other in a cosmic and universal kind of way, to stand up for what we believe in, especially when it goes against the tide of popular thinking/behaviour. It can be a lonely position sometimes. Namaste. Tracey.

  3. Pidge
    November 20, 2013 / 2:59 pm

    I love this…once again, you are awesome!

  4. November 19, 2013 / 6:16 pm

    When our first daughter, Beezus (now 8) was a baby, I decided that there was no way that O could keep up with the frenetic pace of the other moms in the neighborhood playgroup. So, we opted out. We opted out of birthday parties, casual get togethers, plays, endless numbers of children’s music and dance classes and the ever popular neighborhood bus trips to various events. My priority was a monthly gathering with my mother’s group and a monthly playgroup with the same. Everything else was secondary. When our second child was born, I loosely limited us to two events each weekend. It was hard – after a while we stopped being invited and that was hard. But I wouldn’t change a thing and I encourage other families with young children to consider whether a slower pace of life might be better for their family.

    Again, kudos to you and your husband for figuring out what works for you!

  5. andie
    November 18, 2013 / 2:05 pm

    I actually wrote about something sort of similar to this at the New Orleans Moms Blog on Monday! I totally agree- so much so that I am thinking of doing a social media fast soon! 🙂

  6. Ana
    November 18, 2013 / 10:29 am

    This is my first comment on your blog, but I wanted to chime in because I love this post so so much. I have two young kids, and its really important to us (for at least the next few years before real school and activities set in) to make sure they have time to just BE—to spend hours playing Legos or trains, swinging at the park, or even snuggling up together watching movies on the weekend instead of the constant “hurry up, put your shoes on, we’re going to be late”. My husband and I both work full time, and our boys are in full-day daycare…which they love…but it means very little time to be at home and be together as a family so we cherish those evenings and weekends and have no desire to fill them up with obligations. I have been wondering why I’m the only one that doesn’t seem to have a need for multiple (gorgeous!) “holiday party outfits” (FOMO of another sort) but have concluded that its simply not the season of life for a busy social calendar.

  7. Seeker .
    November 16, 2013 / 9:19 pm

    It’s really something to make as think. Sometimes, well maybe many times, it’s difficult not to compare with others.
    But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it.
    Hope you’re having a nice weekend

  8. Ginger
    November 15, 2013 / 8:48 pm

    It’s nice to keep connections with your pre-family friends. We have a set of “Group House” friends we hung out with a lot when we first moved to DC. Some years we’d get together once or twice, kids in tow, but as the kids have grown up we see a lot more of these friends, who’re now our bestest friends. It was worth it to work them into our lives when our kids were little.

  9. Patti_NotDeadYetStyle
    November 15, 2013 / 7:55 pm

    Tell it, Allie! And we don’t really know what others are dealing with behind closed doors. Enjoy every minute of your life and do what feels right, and stay fabulous. xoxo

  10. Melissa L.
    November 15, 2013 / 6:49 pm

    I also need the unscheduled weekend to in order to recover/gear up for the next week. My kids are 4 and 7 and soon enough they will have their own social circles and I want to enjoy our small family circle while they are content to spend their time with mom and dad, especially because we both work and spend a lot of time apart during the week. It’s not that I don’t do anything, but I can’t be tied to another group’s time table for a majority of the weekend. I do get concerned that it may appear as if I don’t care about my dearest friends, but we’re all overextended and seem to understand. It’s self-preservation.

  11. November 15, 2013 / 5:38 pm

    Preach! It is so hard trying to balance everything but my theory is that it’s because we expect far too much of ourselves and each other. For example, if to do five different facets of our lives well and it takes 30% of our effort per facet then we’re overextended and it just doesn’t add up. Something’s gotta give!

    I gave up on gardening, quite a bit of housework, heavy volunteering involvement at church ‘cos doing a good job of working full time in a demanding role takes effort and I need rest time!

  12. Amanda M
    November 15, 2013 / 4:52 pm

    yes, yes, yes, Love this, and 100% true. It was great to finally learn this lesson…we live our lives with so much more joy now (as I’m sure you can relate!). Happy weekend, friend!

  13. November 15, 2013 / 3:27 pm

    There have been times that I have to remind myself that what makes us happy is most important. What other people think our lives should be doesn’t matter. My favorite family and childhood memories involve time spent, not money, things or special events. Emerson will cherish that time for the rest of her life.

  14. Jane
    November 15, 2013 / 3:24 pm

    I so love all of your posts. You say it so well!

    I really admire the way you approach your life and the way you express yourself on your blog.
    Thanks for this post!

  15. Karen
    November 15, 2013 / 1:41 pm

    Well said, Allie! Don’t live your life for others to see – live it for you to feel. Have a great weekend!

  16. Rebekah B
    November 15, 2013 / 1:23 pm

    Yesss, The Last Unicorn. Love it.

    As a mother of a toddler, I know what you mean. Finding a balance and trying not to compare yourself to others can definitely be a struggle.

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