Have you noticed how our society truly is caught up in this insane comparison trap more than ever? I find myself caught there so often and it’s absolutely miserable. I’m never pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, fun enough, rich enough, etc. etc. etc. but when I became a mom, it was a whole new ballgame with a new set of “ _______ enoughs” added to the mix. For instance, bless the Pinterest moms who cut out cute critter sandwiches and have all five-food groups in the lunchbox the night before. I’m legit scrounching around at 7:30 AM, realizing we are out of bread so I start looking for a hamburger bun, (don’t you dare act like you don’t know what I’m talking about) only to then realize we are out of deli meat so we’re in the drive through at Chickfila at 7:45 AM, shamefully ordering a kid’s meal to throw in the lunchbox then pulling in to the school on 2 wheels at 8:05 AM. I really long to be one of those “got my stuff together” moms but it’s not who I am and we survive so we have that to pat ourselves on the back for at the end of the day.
One of the hardest parts of being a mom are the comparisons made against your child, and man they start early. “Oh, your baby doesn’t know sign language for, “please pass the kale?” Oh, your baby doesn’t know how to do downward dog in baby yoga? Oh, your baby is bottle-fed? Oh, your kid didn’t have elephant rides at her first birthday party?” Make it stop, make it all stop. This year, we invited 3 friends, grabbed a pizza and an ice cream cake, went to the skating rink and had the time of our lives. It was so freeing not to stress about if every single inch of the birthday party was perfect for people to judge.
When she started school, I started getting sucked in the trap more and more. MC went to k3 and k4 and even then, I realized the same insecurities that I’ve carried around my whole life were surfacing in her and it was so scary. We decided to keep her in private kindergarten to give her another year in a smaller classroom to have more one-on-one attention, build confidence and hopefully be fully ready to enter public school in first grade and while I don’t regret that decision because she had one of the most amazing teachers ever, the curriculum was quite different from public school curriculum and she just wasn’t at the same place academically or maturity as the others entering first grade. We did talk after kindergarten about the possibility of repeating kindergarten in public school but we didn’t know what we were doing as parents, I mean, this was our first rodeo here. We’ve never done this whole parenting thing before and times have changed, this is no 1986 Tift County first grade where we learned our letters and how to write, no, kids these days are learning Calc III and Physics by the age of 6. Real life talk here, if I made report cards, they would have important subjects such as: Common Sense, Understands Sarcasm, Gets Adult Humor, Shows Compassion, Kind-Hearted, Eats the Lunch Their Momma Threw Together, and Knows When to Use Your/You’re. MC would freaking SLAY that report card, all A’s!
We made the wrong call and sent her on to first grade, setting her up for failure from the beginning but unaware of it at the time. First grade was a struggle, and by struggle, I mean, complete nightmare. By Day 2, I was already getting phone calls about how far behind she was. If you’ve ever received those calls, you know how completely devastating they can be, especially if they aren’t given gently and lovingly. Talk about feeling like a failure as a parent… I remember in one of our MANY meetings with the first grade teacher, Matthew saying, “well, she isn’t in Harvard, this is first grade.” I have the utmost respect for teachers and school administrators because they are often caught in that same trap, but on a whole new level having to have certain marks and grades and test scores to be deemed “successful.” Honestly, if MC wasn’t at the greatest elementary school in Greenville County, we probably wouldn’t have survived that year and by “we,” I mean, Matthew and me.
Somehow we made it out of first grade and in to second and here enters the absolute BEST teacher in the world. Like, I contemplated nominating her for Nobel Peace Prize for the category, AWESOME. She was able to create an environment where kids feel safe enough to fail AND excel and it be ok. She loves her kids more than any teacher I’ve known and it was exactly what MC needed. She was a completely different child from the year before, where once she was the child who sat out of first grade “brain breaks” out of fear and shyness to being the craziest and loudest dancer in second grade. I will never in a million years be able to repay her for the love she showed Marli Claire and the grace she showed us. Hearing that another year in second grade would benefit your child doesn’t come easy but it’s whole lot easier to swallow when it’s spoken with love and support.
So, we made the very difficult decision to have MC repeat second grade again this year. Talk about comparison trap… Let’s be honest, no where in the book of Elementary Etiquette can you find what to do in the event of a repeat year. I mean, do you use the same sign in your first day of school pics as last year and just scratch out the year or do you pretend like your forgot to do first day of school pics altogether? Do you tell people or not? What do you do at church when they ask EVERY. SINGLE. SUNDAY. what grade she’s in and she automatically gets nervous. I never ever ever want to embarrass my child, well, more than I already do when I sing outloud in the bathroom of restaurants or when I hold dance parties in the car, you know, other than that, I never want to embarrass her. I want her to know how incredibly brilliant she is and how unbelievably special she is and how much joy she brings, you know, the important stuff in life. If she never memorizes her math facts and has to count on her fingers for the rest of her life or if she never learns which clouds in the sky are Cumulus or Cirrus, it’s going to be ok. She has so much kindness inside her little body and she exudes pure joy and I couldn’t be any prouder of her than Einstein’s parents must have been of him when he developed his theory of Relativity.
I hope I can take my own advice that I give MC, to not care what others think of me in the areas of life that really don’t matter in the big scheme of things anyway. Let’s all do ourselves a huge favor and find a way out of the trap, life will be much more fun.