Even after several weeks, I never got better at balancing. One day, the instructor looked around the room of statue-like poses and in a deeply zen manner said, "Wherever you are is perfect." And then she glared pointedly at me. (Okay, okay, so yoga isn't my forte. But you haven't seen me use one hand to balance two crying toddlers on my hips. Now that's a skill...)
Ever since that day I've wondered why she couldn't stop herself from that glare. It's not like I was clueless. Not only was I fully aware of her superior flexibility and balance (and how well the rest of the class was doing), she had made it painfully obvious that she was frustrated by my ineptitude. Yoga is supposed to be peaceful and meditative and soul-renewing, not punctuated by glares and irritated sighs.
Welcome to Yoga, where everyone is perfect... except for you.
Cue entry into parenthood, where no matter what you are going through at the moment, someone will say, "You have it easy now. Just wait until you have [fill in the blank]." Two kids. Four kids. Toddlers. Tweens. Teenagers. Licensed drivers. Soccer games. Music lessons. Dance recitals...
Translation: I have it harder than you. You should be handling this more gracefully. (Yoga translation: Everyone else is perfect. You, on the other hand... *glare*).
Look, nobody else is perfect, nor are they handling things perfectly. Wherever you are isn't perfect, it's hard.
One kid? That's hard.
Two kids? Still hard.
Screaming toddlers? Hard.
Hormonal tweens? Hard.
Rebellious teenagers? Hard.
So, before you elbow the mother-of-the-crying-child in the check-out line at Target and say, "Just wait until he's a teenager!", think! When your child was a tantrum-throwing, snot-covered toddler, it was HARD. Just because you're far enough removed from the experience that all you remember is lollipops and rainbows, does not mean that someone dodging gunfire in the trenches wants to hear, "Enjoy it now! You'll miss those bullets someday!"
Parenthood is not a contest. It's not a game where the object is to rack up the most Persecution Points. (Oh, I see your toddler wiped his used diaper all over the carpet, but my teenager just snuck out in the middle of the night and wrecked my car! More points for me!) It's not a matter of blue ribbons or trophies or angel wings or who made the most sacrifices.
It's a matter of raising humans. Of making mistakes. Of surviving and becoming better. And it needs support, because parenting is incredibly, incredibly hard.
So, next time you see a mother struggling, don't tell her she has it easy now. Don't say, "Enjoy that little shrieking brat who is trying to hit you!" Don't turn up your nose and opine, "Teenagers are so much harder" or "Wait until the hormones hit!" Say, "You're doing just fine." "This is such a hard age. It will get better." "You're a good Mom. Keep at it!"
Because lifting others, helping others, wherever you are...
Now that's perfect.