Run Your Own Race

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It’s human nature for people to want to fit in, to be part of a majority, to be the same as others and not to stand out. Bizarrely at school it seemed to revolve around footwear, having the right brand made all the difference and could make the ride a little easier. I can remember on my 13th birthday using every last penny of my birthday money to buy a fairly ridiculous pair of trainers that had a pump in the tongue, just in case you ever felt the need to have inflatable feet. It served its purpose though and for a couple of weeks I was the toast of my class, crowds would flock to pump my tongue, that is until Mark McPhail got a pair with air bubbles in them and stole my glory.

I think it’s quite easy for parents to slip back into that schooldays mentality, with the temptation to fit in and do what the others do. Just like school where you had the popular kids you now have the popular parents, they no longer hang out round the back of the bike sheds smoking cigarettes and instead seem to favour congregating at cafes and sipping lattes. And were as the currency of popularity used to be footwear these days it’s prams.

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It’s easy to question yourself as a parent, you are your only critic, until your children reach their teenage years and then they can criticise your parenting too. One of the most straight forward routes to parent self doubt and guilt is to compare your methods with other parents. Which weekly classes do you send your son too? Where do you take your swimming classes? Have you enrolled Max at any schools yet? Daddy why am I drinking water and all the others are having Babyccino’s?

Throw in the ‘expert advice’ from the magazines, blogs, websites and books and it can be very easy to question what you’re doing. One of the best things I did when I started hanging out with Max was to write a list of what sort of parent I wanted to be, what I wanted for Max and how I could make those things happen. Knowing the sort of parent I wanted to be has made the journey a lot easier. It’s proved to be more valuable than the tatty page of scruffy scribbles would suggest.

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I try not to dish out too much advice to new parents, they look shell shocked enough as it is but I would say that running your own race and not being influenced will make for a smoother ride.

 

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  • http://soniastyling.com/ Sonia from Sonia Styling

    It’s as true for life as it is for parenting (I’m assuming). The number of times I have, even now at the age of 29-bordering-on-30, had to remind myself that I’m not that insecure teenager in a back brace trying desperately to fit in and feel “normal” anymore. The back brace is gone, the braces on my teeth are off, those kids aren’t my friends anymore…but those scars still remain. I still catch glimpses of that girl in the mirror. It’s certainly a journey and I’m definitely a work in progress.

    • daddownunder

      Everyone has their hang ups don’t they? Even the people you watch and think are so together, the more you get to know them the more you realise we’re all trying to find ourselves and be the person we want to be.

  • http://awesomelyunprepared.com/ KezUnprepared

    Oh, you are SO right. I took over a year to truly realise this. I always ran my own race, but to stick with the metaphor, I was zig zagging all over the place, stopping to look at all the people watching on the sidelines, psyching myself out thinking the other runners were all so much more together than I was and that I didn’t stand a chance.
    I felt judged. But it turns out, I was judging myself far more harshly than anyone else was (and sadly some were because people do).
    Now I stay in the moment, eyes facing forwards, knowing the rewards of trusting myself and my child’s individual needs/personality are so much sweeter than thinking everyone around me approves. Who gives a crap if they approve?? The only person I owe anything to is my Little Mister.
    I’m not perfect but I do love the saying “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I remind myself of this whenever I start to get too worried about what everyone else is doing. I love this post and I shall share it with my readers. This is also my favourite advice to give new parents. It’s SO important.

    • daddownunder

      “Comparison is the thief of joy” – I’ve not come across that one but it resonates. You’re right most of the criticism and judgement is self inflicted, if you let it. Glad you’ve find a pace that works for you : )

  • rhian @melbs

    Absolutely agree Matt. It’s like a bunch of mean girls! I don’t take any notice anymore and do my own thing. Besides nowadays I don’t have the time to worry about it. I totally remember the pump tongue trainers I coveted them for months but never got them. I guess I wouldn’t have made it into your cool gang! ;-)

    • daddownunder

      I was only cool for a couple of weeks Rhian, in truth I suspect I wasn’t that cool anyhow, just a kid with inflatable shoes.

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  • www.boyeatsworld.com.au

    It can get pretty “mean girls” out there, even with boys but Raffles LOVES to be a bit different and stand out from the crowd> Luckily, in his case, it’s made him more popular with the other kids… Vive la difference I say!