I hear things like this a lot at playdates or other gatherings where moms are chatting. I say them, too. And the things I say are true: there are a lot of things that I wish I could be, a lot of things I wish I could do. I wish I had long, beautiful flowing hair. I wish could be more spontaneous. I want to be carefree and silly with my kids all day long. And there are moms I know with these qualities and I admire them and telling them that I wish I could be like them is one way of letting them know that I admire them.
But while it’s a way of acknowledging the admirable in another person, it’s also a way for me to feel like I’m falling short. Because I’m not a terribly spontaneous person. I have a hard time letting loose and being silly. And I’m probably not ever going to have long, beautiful flowing hair.
It’s important for me to remember every now and then that this is because I choose not to. I choose to keep my hair short because it looks better like that on me. I choose to not be so silly all the time because, well, someone’s got to be the adult around here. I choose to honor our commitments and plan ahead as much as I can so we can avoid meltdowns and tantrums, and sometimes that means, unfortunately, we can’t drop everything for a party.
But it’s also important for me to realize that I could choose the alternative as well. I could choose to be silly. I could choose to grow out my hair. I could choose to grab at all the pretty things that float towards us on the wind.
However, I haven’t chosen those things. Instead, I’ve tried to make choices to help me be the person I really want to be so I don’t spend as much time wishing I could be like someone else. I choose to run. I choose not to buy processed food very often (which is another way of saying I choose to cook a lot). I choose to listen more than I talk. I choose, against my better judgment, to stay up late.
The next time I’m at a playgroup and I’m chatting with other moms, admiring the way they handle their kids or organize their time or dress themselves, instead of falling into the trap of wishing I could be like them, I’m going to try simply admiring them.
“You totally rock that sweater dress! You have the perfect body for it.”
“I love that you let your daughter help make the cookies. That takes a lot of patience.”
“That’s a great way to motivate the kids to help out. I may have to steal that idea.”
And then, if I really do want to be like that, maybe I’ll choose to do it, instead of idly wanting, wishing, and feeling inadequate.