I compare myself to other mothers.  I compare my kids to other kids.  I compare my family to other families.  I can’t help it.  I truly believe it is human nature.

And sometimes, I am really jealous.  Perceptions can quickly become reality.  Even if I do not want them to.  They can rule my psyche to a fault.  I suppose that is the true nature of perceptions.  An intangible meant to jade a reality and confuse the viewer.

But, again, I can not help it.

So, I continue, almost daily, to compare and contrast with those I interact with.  I have amazing friends.  Really wonderful, God fearing, honest to goodness, life long friends.  Not one single one would I not do anything in the world for.  And I feel fairly secure in saying the same thing about them towards me.

But they become my barometers for my judgments on myself and my job performance, we’ll say.  And I often find myself, even saying to their faces, “I wish I had that” or “I wish I could be like that” or “I wish I were more in tune to that”.  Because they are all wonderful ladies, they are quick to point out how I am more like them than I think.

I can admit super jealousies over my friend who has her parents close by, always willing to take her children so she and her husband can have real date night.  Ones that last all night and into the morning.  Nights that repair and rejuvenate marriages and remind couples what they love about each other.  Nights my husband and I have not had since kids, nor will likely have in the future.

I begrudgingly admit that I wish I were more calm and patient like another good friend.  That I am envious of the constant smile she has on her face, despite the stresses of having two young children.  She takes everything in stride, never raises her voice (though she has tried to convince me otherwise!), and seems to have a gentle, but firm approach with her kids that does not leave them sobbing in tears like my discipline does.  And it works, which makes me that much more jealous!

I adore my friend who has a grown son, long moved out and building a family of his own.  Because she has the ultimate of freedoms.  She can come and go, stay up late, sleep in, and do as she pleases.  And what overwhelmed Mom out there would not want that?  At least for a little while?

But I also know that my friend with the nights out goes it alone most of the week.  Her husband travels for work and even with her parents right there, she misses him and wishes him safely home more.  I know my friend with the freedom misses having her son at home.  And I know she wishes for my days as much as I wish for hers.  And my friend who is calm and smiles and has it all together?  Well, she does.  Except for her kids getting up before 6 am, she really does seem to have a handle on things.

And I know that perception is a two way street.  People say to me, “I don’t know how you do it!”  They seem so impressed and in awe that I have three small children.  But they are seeing a small glimpse, a moment when I have no choice and I must get it done.  When the whole package is involved, they may say, “You have no idea what you are doing!”

Or my friend who told me yesterday, after I told her that I feel like all I do is complain to my friends, that even when I do, I make her laugh.  I throw in an antidote or something that breaks up the onslaught and reminds her why she loves me.  My view point of torturing my poor friends is vastly different.

The reality of perceptions, I suppose, is that they are not based on reality at all.  They are meant to confuse, variate, and diffuse common sense.  Yet, I still use them to compare and contrast.  To gage my inner worth, even.  My stability, my sense of accomplishments, and my hopes in what I can become.  A better mother, wife, and self preserver.

I have decided that the definition of perception must be inspiration meets distortion meets truth.  Otherwise, I would not value them so much.  Nor would I dislike that I have them so much.

But until I can think above them and recognize that everyone has a flip side, one that I would not take with the good, I’ll just have to be smart enough to use them for what they are.

A simple barometer meant to challenge and entice me to improve upon what I think I am.

So I can perceive myself differently as well.