Thursday, 28 June 2012


All my life I've looked over my shoulder, comparing myself to others.

It's driven me to work harder than I thought possible and achieve more than I thought I could, and at the same time it's made dissatisfied with my achievements and my looks and my choices, and discontented with my own happiness.

Lately, I've noticed that I've begun to impose my comparisons on my boy.

I listen to his friends chattering in semi-coherent sentences and trying out semi-intelligible words, and I worry that his speech is slow. I see two-year-olds who are already potty trained and I panic that he's behind. And I see little ones dressing and undressing themselves, and I feel ashamed that my boy still relies on me to put on his jacket and take off his shoes.

And as I hear myself saying "Pippa can say horse" or "Why don't you take off your shoes like Hannah?" or "Sara's speech is amazing! I can understand every word she says," or even "You're so much better at eating than Elodie" I realise that I'm becoming the voice in his head that will make him dissatisfied with his life; I am the nagging compulsion that will make him look over his shoulder and compare his happiness to others, and I feel searing horror at the thought.

Because I never ever want my boy to measure his beautiful, perfect self in relation to others, or to feel that he is a greater or lesser person because of the comparison. I want him to always be as fully content in his own nature as he is today, and I know that he will reach all those milestones that I worry over so fruitlessly at the perfect time for him and in a manner that's entirely his own.

And so, little boy, I promise that I will try harder. I will try not to compare you to others, and if that proves impossible then I will at least try not to voice my comparisons out loud.

I will simply marvel at your unique and wonderful self. Because really, you're incomparable.

And that, more than anything, is what I want you to know.


  1. Its hard to walk the line between genuine concern and competition. The thing is you know about the line, and that you are walking it. Many don't. Your boy will be ok.

  2. The sad thing is, you often look back and wish you could turn the clock back and keep the baby stage just a little longer. When children are actually ready but just comfortable with the way things are then a little push is all it needs to move them on to the next stage. And by waiting you save yourself a lot of work.

    But I know how hard it is not to compare. So you could try turning it round and congratulating yourself on letting your boy go at his natural speed rather than being hot housed

  3. Good for you, Helen! This wonderful journey of his is leading to the beautiful adult he will become. Let him take his time on this long path and know that you have paved parts of it with gold. Lucky boy.