Autism · Family

Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your JOY

I might be a little bit crazy. This past weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada. My husband had to work and the kiddos were feeling under the weather, so we waited until yesterday to celebrate. We had a delicious “turkey” dinner (okay, it was chicken) and some pumpkin pie that I made using my Grandma’s secret recipe. And then…oh, then I let comparison set in.

You see, everyone and their dog had taken some beautiful fall family pictures and posted them up on Facebook. Some were just candid shots, others were professionally done. Every once in awhile, I look at everyone else’s photos of their beautiful, perfect smiling children and I just get a crazy old green minute where I want that too.

So, off we went to the most beautiful park in the city where we could get splendid fall photos. I had the camera, I had the leaves, I had the handsome hubby, and then…I had…my children. Perfect? Never. Smiling? Not always. Beautiful? Yes, yes, and yes.

I have been here before. I have cried frustrated tears for the perfect family photo that we will never take because one child has autism and the other likely is as well. They have a hard time even looking directly at the camera – and then when they do, they usually aren’t smiling. 

But then, I take a second glance. This isn’t someone else’s family. These people are mine. My heart and soul, my flesh and blood. I am not perfect in any way, so why should I expect them to be?

After I got over my initial feelings of regret and frustration of not getting the perfect picture, I realized I was letting comparison steal my joy. Because let me tell you, even though we’re under a lot of stress and we have more to handle than your “normal” family, we have a complete abundance of joy. 

And these little boys? These are my heart. Are they a handful? Yes. Are they exhausting? Just pass me that pillow so I can close my eyes for five minutes. I mean, really. My husband and I operate on only about five hours of good sleep a night, and he’s pushing 40. That’s just life. And do you know what? We wouldn’t trade 8 – 10 hours of undisturbed sleep for either one of these boys. Ever.

As we walked around the park, they climbed on rocks and jumped in ditches. I tried to keep from cringing as I watched them get their clothes absolutely filthy. I couldn’t help but mention once or twice they were getting their shoes soaked in the creek and that they’d have nothing to wear to school in the morning. I really held back, because that’s how boys live life. Dirty, messy, adventurous life.

See the wonder on their faces as they looked through an oversized drain in the middle of the drying up creek? You really can’t duplicate this wonder often. So you need to appreciate the joy in it when it comes. And sometimes, joy comes in messy, dirty boys looking at a drain pipe.

Micah ~ age (almost) 7

Aiden ~ age (almost) 9
We might never get that perfect family photo to blow up and hang in our living room. But we have memories and we have moments so full of joy, I am not so sure we need one.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your JOY

  1. Such a beautifully written post! Your words are right on! Those boys and their sense of joy as they look in that drain pipe is what it's really about – having fun, enjoying family outings, seeing the wonder in the usual while admiring the unique. Your family is precious – whether you ever get a perfect family photo or not!

    How do I know this? Because I'm the mother of Brock (and two other offspring, too). Brock is a HUGE joy in my life. He's now 29 years old and 6 foot tall. He makes me laugh. He makes me smile. He keeps me young and at the same time, he ages me. Sometimes he has been a handful, but ALWAYS he is a precious gift from God. (Oh, and did I mention… Brock is autistic.)

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  2. I see why you were a journaling major. I read every word. I almost cried but the next sentence would make me smile and a lot hit home. I spent 33 years teaching and working with special needs boys and girls…mainly boys. They were just as much my children as they were the biological mom and dad. I can honestly say I rarely got frustrated and would jump up and down and scream (softly) with delight when some thing being taught CAUGHT THEM. For me, I have 2 boys as well, both different, and both beat to a different drummer. You know….it just dawn on me that I have pics of each but NO family pic….humm

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