Comparison is defined as the act or instance of comparing. This definition makes this word seem benign and harmless. For many comparison may be harmless, even motivating. However, for me, this word is a silent killer, a thief to be exact. I have spent much of my life living in the land of comparison. I made it through high school comparing myself to other girls, my grades to those around me, my after high school goals to my peers. I spent my twenties comparing my life to those around me because I had my son at 19 while all my friends were in college; my daughter at 23 when my friends were beginning their careers; married at 24 and my second son at 26 only to be divorced at 28. I saw this piece of my life as less than others- compared to my friends who went to college, got married and started having babies, or compared to my friends who married shortly after high school and had babies but were able to homeschool and be stay at home moms while I had to work full time. While my life has always been full, full of love, laughter, hope and perseverance, it has also been full of comparison which lead to discontentment.
I have always known I struggle with comparison. I have always tried to turn this over to God and have even done bible studies on contentment. Comparison appears to be the thorn in my side. Some seasons it’s not as bothersome. Some seasons I am able to rationalize life and where I am. I am able to sit in my faith and remind myself that I don’t need to compare my life to those around me, I don’t need to compare my finances, my house, my car, my career, my education, my dreams, my writing, my children, my anything to anyone else. Some seasons I am able to be content. I am able to remember that life is not about living in the world; it’s not about keeping up with those around me, but instead about living the life God has called me to live.
Sadly, I am not in the season of contentment. Instead I am in a storm of comparison. I have been in this storm for roughly the last ten months. My pregnancy didn’t go as planned - it wasn’t like the women around me who were pregnant at the same time. My pregnancy was filled with fear, worry and anxiety. Their pregnancies were filled with excitement, joy and peace. My pregnancy was filled with many questions of why. Their pregnancies were filled with statements of thanks. My delivery didn’t go as planned. I was induced. I had a c-section. I didn’t get to hold my daughter until several hours after she was born. I didn’t get to have my daughter in my hospital room with me. I didn’t get to take her home when I left the hospital. I had to leave her, in the NICU, alone, without me. I had to go home, sleep in a house with my daughter a 20 minute drive from me. I spent 26 days this way while my daughter was in the NICU. I didn’t get to put my daughter to my breast to nurse till she was 5.5 weeks old. I spent 5.5 weeks pumping every three hours 24 hours a day. The other women around me - delivered as they planned, held their baby right away, had their baby in their hospital room with them, fed their baby as they planned, took their baby home with them and rejoiced in delivering the baby they had dreamt of. Don’t get me wrong - I rejoiced in the birth of my daughter; after all, she arrived healthy, strong and most importantly alive. It was with her delivery, with the miracles of her healed heart that I began to realize it was time to process her diagnosis of Down Syndrome.
I spent my whole pregnancy worrying if she was going to make it here alive. If I was going to get to hold her, to love her, to nurse her, to snuggle her, to feel her against me, to listen to her breathe, to hear her coo and laugh and if I would get to see her grow. Given all this, I didn’t process her diagnosis. I didn’t take the time to grieve the loss of they baby I had dreamt of having and in turn accepting the baby I was having. I know this sounds terrible. I don’t mean it that way. It’s simple though. One dreams of a healthy baby upon hearing they are pregnant. One plans for a neurotypical baby and dreams of all this baby will accomplish as they grow. I just spent my pregnancy praying she would survive, so when Arrow arrived, it has been five months of processing her diagnosis, of grieving what she won’t have. It’s been five months of comparing her to babies around me and seeing where she is “behind”. I find myself worrying about how behind she is; wondering what others will think; what family members will think when she is developmentally behind her cousin whose twelve days older. I see how much harder she has to work to reach her milestones and my heart breaks. I feel guilty for grieving. I feel guilty for comparing her to others. I feel guilty for having trouble accepting her diagnosis.
I love her. I couldn’t love her more. I see her face and my heart melts. I hear her laugh and and see her smile and my heart swells. I watch my children with her and I know she was meant for us. I know God makes no mistakes. I know He has His hand on her and on us. I know He blessed me with her for a reason and is using this season to refine me, to bring me closer to Him. He is using my weakness of comparison to show me His truth and He is using my daughter to teach me the deeper meaning of love.
I wouldn’t trade Arrow for a thousand neurotypical babies. I wouldn’t trade my journey for a thousand typical ones. I love Arrow. I love all of her. Every inch. Every 47 chromosomes. I just need to find peace in this journey. I need to find contentment in this journey. My head knows life will be fuller and richer, my heart grieves. When will this end? When will I simply be at peace? When will I stop comparing and start embracing? When will I find more joy in the journey rather than more why me? When will I stop having theological questions about this filling my head? When will my faith be more solid again? When will I stop questioning God about why?
In the midst of all my questions, I keep reflecting on a quote Arrow’s occupational therapist shared with me upon first meeting her. It’s simple, yet profound. She said “comparison is the thief of joy.” How there is such truth in this statement. I am ready for the thief to be captured and joy to be returned. I am ready to find peace and to embrace this journey. I am ready to be bold for my daughter. I am ready to stop asking why me and instead start saying thank you. I am ready to stop crying tears of grief and instead cry tears of joy and thanks. I am ready to claim back joy, to fully turn over my lifelong issues of comparison to the Lord and enjoy where He has me. I am ready to embrace the journey God has given me, using it to refine myself, to share His goodness and faithfulness and see what amazing places it takes me. I am ready to wrap my arms around my daughter and only feel love, joy and peace with no ounce of grief or comparison. I am ready to just live in thanks; thanks that beautiful Arrow has been added to my family, that I get the honor to be her mom, to raise her and love her and watch her be a world changer.
I'm a single mom of four radiant kids who believes in relationship with Jesus over religion. I'm trying not to battle with fear anymore - instead I am choosing to follow what God has called me to do. With that you'll find me here, trying to be brave, with the goal of being authentic and honest about God, single parenting and the beauty in the mess of my joyful chaos. It's sure to be a journey... and I am blessed to share it with you!