Our middle sons are twins, and it has been quite a learning curve raising this little two pack. Keeping up with two humans who are in the same stage at the same time can be overwhelming. Teething was the absolute WORST when they were both screaming all hours of the night. I think I still have some lingering PTSD. Right about the time they were both walking I remember wondering if I would ever be able to leave the house without another adult to help supervise them and their older brother, they had such an uncanny knack for all running a different direction. Pretty much any schedule was stuck to with military precision lest we lose our rhythm and it all fell apart. When we found out we were having a fourth, and I was having a panic attack at the thought of starting over again, my husband’s mantra became “But it’s just one. We survived two, we can do this.”
Surviving their baby and toddler hood aside, an aspect of twins I don’t think we were prepared for was the comparison that can begin to happen, even between these little best friends. The older twin is the one who did everything first. He rolled over at three months old, he crawled first, walked first, talked first, and is the more social and daring of the two. His more shy and quiet brother would rather be with a handful of people, doesn’t like loud noises, and in general is perfectly content to just follow along with whatever his brothers are doing, or to sit quietly alone playing his tablet. He has often lamented that he can’t do some things as well as his more proactive brother. The one, and only thing this younger twin has ever accomplished first, is losing a tooth.
The first time it happened his brother was excited for him, almost as excited about the prospect of the tooth fairy visiting as if it was his joy too. The second time he was still happy for his brother, but politely asked when it would be his turn. The third and fourth time he was annoyed and impatient. ‘It’s not fair! When is it going to be MY turn?!’ It’s hard to explain to a six year old that there is literally nothing his brother is doing to cause this to happen. They eat the same things, brush their teeth at the same time, his brother isn’t better than him at losing teeth! It’s just not his time yet.
Comparison. It sounds so ridiculous and funny in this context doesn’t it? Yet the innocent plight of a six year old is such an eye opening example of how easy it is to be side tracked by someone else’s perceived “success.”
His brother losing a tooth in no way detracted from his life, it wasn’t a reflection on him or a sign he was doing something wrong, but as far as he was concerned, he was being overlooked and it just wasn’t fair. Man I hate to say that I relate to this and know firsthand that feeling of “but that’s not fair!” But don’t we all? Haven’t we all thought this at one time or another?
Recently, in the span of a few days, I had two different people tell me how great they thought my friend’s writing was. I had to tell my inner six year old to take a chill pill. They were right, she is an awesome writer and I am proud to call her my friend. What would comparing myself to her accomplish? Misery. Envy. Resentment. That all sounds terrible! I think I’ll pass.
Conversely it can go the opposite direction of comparing in order to validate ourselves or feel that we have it all together. We compare in so many ways, and often all we accomplish is creating distance between each other. An Us vs Them mentality. Homeschool vs Public School. Nursing vs Bottle fed. Working Mom vs Stay at Home Mom. None of these things are bad things, but when we throw them down like a gauntlet they become a wall between us and our perceived enemies. Which, more often than not, is exactly what the true Enemy is hoping for.
At the end of the day, another’s success does not equal my failure. Just as another’s choice in life doesn’t mean mine is somehow invalid. In fact, it means I have an opportunity to cheerlead for these people in my life who are following their course and crushing their goals. So the next time you’re tempted to let comparison steal your joy, pretend you’re a six year old who just lost your first tooth, and smile like the tooth fairy is carrying hundred dollar bills.