My sister and I, with our four kids each, occasionally think back to our one-child or two-child selves.
"Remember when we each had just one baby, and we thought that was hard?!?"
"Hahaha, remember when we only had two kids each and we thought that was hard?!?!"
But you know what? It was hard. When I think back to when I only had one child, I think about how difficult it was to adjust to life as a mom, how new everything was to me, and how much I worried. It was hard.
I think back to when I just had two kids the same ages as my youngest two are now, and it was JUST me ALL the time with no older kids to help out. It was hard.
I have an older friend, whose children are all grown, who laughs at me whenever I say anything about how hard this whole parenting gig is. She had 6 children close together and a less-than supportive husband. Yet, she managed to keep her children clean and fed, her house clean, her huge garden kept up, etc. She sees all of the things I have that make my life easier, such as a large washer and dryer, family nearby to help out, etc, and assumes that she had it much harder than me. According to her, I have no reason to be exhausted or overwhelmed.
But here's the thing...even if her situation was harder than mine, that's not the point. When we tell someone who's struggling that they have it better than someone else, the only thing we accomplish is to make them feel guilty for feeling the way they do and convey the message that what they're going through is insignificant. It's not.
Sometimes, in the special needs community there's a little bit of unintentional competition as well...
"She doesn't have a right to vent about how hard it is taking care of her special needs child because my child's medical issues are much worse than hers."
Attitudes like that don't help anyone. All they do is divide the special needs community and foster isolation, something that many special needs parents struggle with already.
There is always someone who has it worse off than you and even two people going through the same experience will not respond to it the same way.
Do not compare your journey to someone else's and don't compare theirs to yours. Instead, let's encourage each other no matter what.
This post is linked up at Cornerstone Confessions and Rich Faith Rising