I had a conversation with another parent recently who said they had to step up their “weekend” game since meeting me. They compared what I did on my weekends with my children to weekends with their kids. They said I made them feel a little bit inadequate. Hey listen if you are on social media checking every post with a hashtag of family time and thinking “I need to do that” then you are on a slow road to hell with kerosene boxers on.
It’s natural. We all do it. At work. In school. In relationships. At the gym. However I think it happens with exceptional frequency in parenthood; unfair comparison. We compare ourselves to other people and situations and use them as a reflection of how our own lives should be. My advice? Don’t do it. Trust me.
When I first became a dad it was hard. I had just graduated college, was living with my then girlfriend had just started work at a huge corporation and there were twin 8 month olds screaming their heads of nightly. I was exhausted most days. One night I was quieting one of my daughters on the side of the bed and I can remember sleep washing over my body in a punishing wave. It hit me like a ton of bricks in every orifice of my body. My arms, legs, hands, neck all decided to shut down at the same time which was slightly inconvenient since I was rocking my daughter sleep. I remember trying to fight it with all my might.
My eyes closed. Opened. My eyes closed. Opened. I sat up. My eyes closed. Opened. I moved my body. I didn’t feel it happen but I heard my daughter’s shriek when she slipped to the floor. The tiredness evaporated as I quickly scooped her up and tried to sooth her wails. In that moment I became the most horrible father created in human history.
I actually wasn’t the most horrible father. I was just tired and needed sleep but, I can say that now. I shared so you know you aren’t alone in the “I’m doing this wrong” parenting club. K?
I know that you think you aren’t guilty of this but it’s just human nature to want to benchmark yourself. The rub is you bring on feelings of inadequacy regardless of whether you mean to or not. We as human beings like to know if we are doing well even though we cringe when we find out that we might not be up to snuff. As parents we’ll always feel like we aren’t up to snuff………what’s “snuff” by the way?
– “Snuff” is that father in a three piece suit that calmly spoke to his daughter with perfectly combed hair on the train next to me who didn’t seem stressed about dinner, bills or how much time he was spending with her. His wedding band didn’t help either. Shoot Me.
– “Snuff” is the mother of three who posts on my timeline with photos of the new banking recipe she is trying out with her three perfect daughters who are all a grade ahead in the private school they got into. She couldn’t possibly be that cheery all the time.
– “Snuff” is the other single dad who took his daughter to Egypt for the summer to go horseback riding, knows how to cook and does her hair! His daughter is pretty and plays two sports.
“Snuff” sucks. You don’t suck though. Please remember that. Every single parent has doubted themselves. Every single one. We all feel as if we dropped the ball at some point should be reprimanded and then fired from our job. Don’t worry I’ve waited and no one is coming to yell at you or hand you a father pink slip. I promise.
“Snuff” is like *Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street; imaginary. So don’t get hung up on things that aren’t really there. Worry about things that are real and in front of you like your child; are they happy with you are as a parent? Are you doing your very best, honestly? Ok. You’re good then.
– A Single Dad
*Ever wonder why Snuffy and Big Bird on Sesame Street always spoke to each other alone? Here’s why — he was originally Big Bird’s imaginary friend! I found this out later in life and it quite literally blew my mind.