Play hard

The Comparison game

I think one of the worst things a parent, a grandparent, or a relative could do to a child is to compare them with other children. I am thankful my parents never did that. I am also thankful my parents advised me to never compare myself to other people. I am sure I started this self-flagellation of comparing myself to others as early as elementary school…maybe even sooner? I think into my 20s it was pretty bad because I was concerned about career and life satisfaction. Now in my 30s, I am actively fighting against it.

In contrast, my husband’s parents constantly compared him and his siblings against each other and their cousins. It was so bad his parents and other relatives compared out in the open at parties and other social gatherings. I have lots of friends who have been traumatized by their parents’ and relatives’ “comparison games” well into adulthood. Some fight it, some just take it and let the anger rise internally, and some retreat. The effect of the “comparison game” was so bad for my husband; he actively avoids most family gatherings from his side of the family.

Yesterday my MIL visited us. My husband and I showed her Lana’s room because we just upgraded her bedframe. MIL asked me, “What time does Lana go to bed?” I answered, “9PM or 10PM.” She asked me, “Why so late?” I replied, “Well it works for her because I start work late and I take her to daycare. She too starts her day late, so she sleeps ‘late.'” Then she says, “You know what time E (Lana’s cousin/MIL’s grandson) goes to bed?” I said, “no….” She says, “He goes to sleep at 8PM. Do you know what time he wakes up?” I guessed, “8 AM?” She corrected, “no, he wakes up at 6AM. Lana sleeps too late!”

I saw I walked into my MILs game comparing Lana and E. I guess I’ll play along and I will play hard. I turned the conversation around to get out of the topic of which toddler has the “better” bedtime. I said, “Lana’s first real word is ‘aqua’ which is Spanish for water. I guess she might be bilingual.” That’s how the comparison game ended…for now… Later that evening, my husband told me he was getting increasingly irritated with his mom comparing Lana and E’s bedtime.

Have you been a victim of the comparison game? How did you get yourself out of it?

I’m no fan of working from home

I’ve been working from home all week. Due to the rising cases of omicron, those who work in non-clinical settings get to rotate working from home. Confession: I have never been a fan of working from home. Even with my last job, my supervisor offered me an opportunity to work once per month. I declined. I am not saying I never worked from home during my time there. I declined because it did not feel like a perk. At that job, I traveled a lot for work and a lot of those sites were very far. After that site visit, I went home and continued working even more. Also, I liked my office environment. Going into the office did make me feel like I was part of a group.

In my current job, I worked from home in my final two weeks of pregnancy. At the time, I was about to begin maternity leave because I was too tired to commute to the office everyday. My supervisor gave me an alternative plan to work from home. When I was about to return from maternity leave, my supervisor offered me to work from home every other Friday. Again, I declined. It was tough working from home when I was pregnant because here I was being productive, while at the time BIL #1 was slacking off — he had no job yet. During maternity leave, I already foresaw some of the challenges of working from home with a newborn. My current job requires me to be on the phone or video conference frequently; I have to do presentations and they can run long. It is doable to do these responsibilities remotely, but I felt with a crying baby it would be difficult to do them well.

Now that she’s a one-year-old, before this week I’ve only worked from home for four days total when she was sick. I’m not saying she’s been sick for only four days since birth. My parents have helped out tremendously where they watch her on other days so I could go to work in person. This week I worked all five days from home and I am TIRED. She does not cry and scream like she use to as a newborn. I am more tired of doing dual planning where I plan my work day and I plan her day. She can play by herself and she plays well with our dogs. Towards the afternoon, I have longer meetings so I would plan for lots of play early in the day to get her to nap in the afternoon. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

Maybe one day I’ll enjoy working from home. I tried this week to enjoy it. In lieu of my commute, I would walk my kid and my dogs. For lunch, I would order takeout. After work, I would walk my dogs or take Lana to the library to again feel like we are going somewhere.

What are your work-from-home tips?

What has (Re)Invigorated me this week?

  1. Reading Amboy: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream by Alvin Cailan and Alexandra Cuerdo – part recipe book, part memoir.
  2. Assembling IKEA furniture – call me crazy. But there is something relaxing about assembling IKEA furniture. But then again, I only this once per year.
  3. Saying how I feel. I know this is a repeat. The problem is that I overthink and I usually don’t say it.
  4. Going somewhere after work – I worked from home all week. I craved going somewhere after being cooped up at home for so many hours.
  5. Going somewhere for lunch break to pickup my takeout – If I was at my office, I would bring leftovers from the night before and that would be my lunch. Since I worked from home, I thought to change this up.
  6. An Orange Truffle Latte from House Roots Coffee

#weekendcoffeeshare

19 thoughts on “Play hard”

  1. I can totally see that working from home with a newborn (and even up to age 3) is near impossible. I wouldn’t think of it with a 1-year-old either so it’s great it works for you!
    Regarding the comparison game…. it’s so damaging. My parents didn’t do things like that but I became an expert of doing it to myself. I think I just became tired of what it did to me and decided to start thinking in terms of ”I should only compare myself with the person I used to be.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You brought up a great point — we are not the same people last year and definitely 10 years ago. We hope we work to become better versions of ourselves!

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  2. Ugh, I hate it when parents compare their children with other children. I’m a victim of such, even at my age, my mom still compares me to her friends’ daughters. Oh, how many kids they have, how they’re happily married, how many investment properties they have. The reason I don’t have any of those is becausei don’t have a supportive parent and never gotten the opportunity to go out without getting interrogated afterward.
    I would ignore your mother-in-law’s comparisons of your daughter and her cousin.
    As for tips for working from home, I’m afraid I don’t have any even though I’ve been working from home for almost the last 2 years, only heading into the office 1 to 2 times a week. I guess, find something to occupy your mind and the day might go faster?
    I also find assembling IKEA furniture relaxing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe for a change let’s flip the tables: have the children compare their parents to other parents to see how they like it.. I’m not the type of person who likes to NOT do anything. If I ignored it, the comparing would continue and I would have the frustration fester. I’d rather stop it early. My husband is not too keen in attending any family events on his side of the family. It’s really sad. In the beginning I use to push him to attend, but if attending causing him pain, then I won’t make him.

      I did not think about the other lasting effects you mentioned. I read your comment to my husband he’s in agreement. When we bought the house, we told his parents after. If we invited them in the process, we have been de-motivated to not get a house at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, that’ll be interesting – have the children compare parents. I bet the parents wouldn’t be too happy being on the other side of the comparison game. 😀 😀 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think for some of us, there’s something deeply unsatisfying about being at home so much – not that home isn’t happy, but that the world is passing us by and we’re no longer part of something bigger….I don’t know. I hear you tho. BTW, your MIL sounds awful. #WeekendCoffeeShare

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Julie.
    Perhaps like you, I did not need my parents comparing me to others when I was young. It was one of the first skills I learned to do on my own and had to unlearn it to survive 9th grade when I decided I could choose who I wanted to be like or unlike, and that going forward, no one had the right to dictate this for me. I could be criticized for how I did a job for an employer, but I could also decide myself if they were correct or if I just needed to find another job.
    Almost by accident, I began working from home early in my, now 40+ years of marriage. For us, it mostly worked though, like you, I missed getting out so had to make it happen to stay sane. This was one of my coping tools.
    It wasn’t until 2006 that I found that I was both employed by someone other than myself AND was working from home, with kids running loose. It was a challenge, but one I fell in love with because we home schooled and they were almost always nearby.

    Hang in there. You have the brains and temperament to make this work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Gary,
      I know a lot of people who love working from home. My dad has been working from home for the last three years and he enjoys the fact that he does not need to do the 80 mile commute he did 5x a week for the past 20 years. And I have a friend who lives less than five miles from his office, but he chooses to work from home and has been doing so for as long as I can remember.
      You brought up a good point about critique. — we have to deal with it for the rest of our lives and it’s up to us to decide how to take it. I’ve learn as I got older the best person to compare to is myself. I should question “will this make me better?” If so, I’ll pursue. If not, then I’ll move on. I had a job where I always received feedback, it was a great — it challenged me, it made work exciting, but after a while I guess I felt I “outgrew” it (?). I questioned “I’m taking all this work (presenting at conferences, organizing this large scale events, etc.) , where will this ultimately lead me?” It felt like the goal line kept moving further away until I decided it was time to move on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So well said Julie. Especially about outgrowing some things that at one time were just what you needed. Very few “needs” or “wants” are going to be life-long pursuits.

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  5. I find that taking breaks away from the computer or work desk, doing gentle stretches, getting outside for a walk, even if it’s a short walk, and listening to music after work helped when I was WFH. Thank you for your #weekendcoffeeshare.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Julie – work from home sounds like you’d be living the dream, but with a baby/small child I can see that it would be very difficult. I think being able to separate yourself from being a mum and going into the office would be easier than switching between the two roles when you’re home all day. I hope things sort themselves out for you soon – and your MIL’s comparisons are really uncalled for. As a MIL and grandmother myself, I see my role as being a cheerleader and encourager. Motherhood is hard enough without someone in the background making negative comparisons (and nobody wants a baby who wakes at 6am!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s really nice to hear, Leanne. I would not want to have my kid wake up at 6 am because I start my work day so late in the day. So if I choose to, I can sleep in which is always nice. Honestly, I try to get her awake by 7AM which is not a major difference in my opinion. I have to get her dressed and fed and out the door before 8AM. It was pretty nitpicky.

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  7. I wonder if this blatant comparing with siblings, cousins, so and so’s neighbour, etc ,etc is an Asian thing. Or maybe Asians are just more vocal about it. I vividly remember huddled under the huge dining table with my sister & cousins, during family gatherings, trying to escape from the nattering aunties discussing us: who got the highest grades, who was taller, who had larger eyes ….

    The change has to start with us, but it is challenging (particularly when there is our own family members involved).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, my husband is doing something similar as an adult — he’s actively evading gatherings that involve certain cousins. Not that he dislikes them or anything. It’s more like his mom is “very enthusiastic” in bringing him over to a certain cousin’s house. We hear raves from his siblings that this cousin has “a very nice house.” I am sure it is a nice house, but he does not want to deal with the comparing.

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