"Comparison is the thief of joy." Theodore Roosevelt
Sorry President Roosevelt, I disagree with you. I respect you and your cowboy like
attitude of carrying sticks while speaking softly. But recently I have learned that comparing yourself to others is not so horrible. Did you not compare the speed and strength of the horses when you herded the cattle? Did you not compare the guns you packed on your hunting trips? Or how about those big sticks that you carried around? I'm sure the different tasks required by you would have you consider the dimension of the stick that had to be carried.
Comparison is a natural part of life in order to weed out what is good vs. what is bad. As humans we need this, but we also need to understand this: When comparing ourselves, human vs. humans, it does not need to be good vs bad, but instead good vs. good.
As a birthmother, I am guilty of comparing myself to adoptive mothers. I had a list of self made myths that I believed, especially in the beginning. Comparisons, that when made would make me bitter and sometimes even angry towards the mothers raising adopted children. It was always so easy to find ways they were better or happier. Then, like an instinct, I would start to bring them down to bring myself up. Only resulting in resentment, distrust, and malice towards good women. Good mothers.
During my first face to face with my Rose's parents there was one moment that will haunt me forever. When I looked at the face of my Rose's soon to be amazing mother and told her, "I am not placing her because she needs a mother. I would make a great mother, I know I would. What she needs is a father in the picture, I cannot guarantee that." YIKES!! I had been placing wrongful judgement on this innocent women, a women I needed to like me I might add, only to make myself feel better. The fact of the matter is that; yes, I am a good mom. (Toot Toot) But I wasn't meant to be Rose's mom. At the time I couldn't understand that. Through time I have come to see this and rejoice in it.
I was recently introduced to a set of skills that I wish I had back then. Karen Eddington is a friend of mine and a Self Worth Analyst who has recently come out with a checklist that teaches the skills of comparison. See below.
I LOVE this list!!! A few years back I came to a conclusion that both birth mothers and adoptive mothers go through very similar stages of grief and pain. The details and circumstance may be different, very different, but there is so much about the two situations that are the same. I have ultimately come to the opinion that its is loss. The loss of a child is something that both mothers have felt. As a birthmother, I could not raise my own child. As an adoptive mother, she could not conceive, carry, or give birth to her own child. Both of these loses are so excruciatingly painful that only the Atonement of our Savior can heal them. It was this thinking that allowed me to come closer to Rose's mother, to be her friends.
Karen's list has helped me to better organize my thoughts and better understand what I should have done in the past and what I will do in the future. This is how I can break down this list when it comes to the two mothers of the adoption triad.
1. Find the similarities- The pain of empty arms. The absent sounds of a baby's cry. The mother bear instinct stolen. The love of a child. Joy in family unity. The comfort of the Saviors Atonement.
2. Learn- Learn about each other; their likes and dislikes, wishes and hopes, comforts and discomforts. Learn about the child; did she sit on the bladder or hang in the ribs? Does she eat her peas and carrots or does she prefer strained peaches? Learn about open adoption and the blessings it brings.
3. Celebrate imperfect vs. imperfect- Neither mother had the ideal situation. Neither mother is a perfect mother. Lift each other up in your imperfections. Heavenly Father does not expect perfection in this lifetime, He only expects us to strive for it.
4. Make it about them- Put yourself in their shoes. Feel their pain. Understand this adoption, is NOT about you alone. Celebrate the birthmother for choosing life over other choices, for staying healthy during pregnancy, and for being strong during delivery. Celebrate the adoptive mother for going the distance of filling out every single piece of paper, for stressing over pictures and profiles that were created just for birthparents, and for happily and lovingly raising this baby in righteousness.
Comparison only robs a person of greater joy when practiced incorrectly. As participants in adoption there is so much comparing that can happen. Let us remember to go through the checklist every time we get caught in the web of negative comparison. Let us uplift and help each other by learning to love and see each other as children of God. It's like my friend, Karen Eddington said in a recent interview with Brooke Walker from Studio 5. Karen explained, "People will give the answer, 'Don't compare yourself to others,' over and over. When really we should be saying that we matter so much"..."It's hard because we see all the people around us but we've got to learn that we matter."
We do matter. I matter and you matter. Christ has commanded us to love one another. He has also promised that those who humble themselves will be exalted. I challenge you to use this checklist, humble yourself and start spreading the love.