1/23/2011

Fruit

We all know the old saying, "It's like apples and oranges". It's meant to remind us to be mindful of what we compare. But, despite their apparent differences...they are both fruits, right? And both round (ish)...and both grow on trees, and both have seeds inside, skin on the outside. I'll stop there.

The point is, despite the negative connotations of comparison, or more specifically, keeping up with the you-know-who's, there is something profoundly healthy in the apples and oranges query. How would we know the difference between the two if we didn't hold them side by side and have a good look? How would we know which tasted better to us if we didn't break them open and sample what's inside? We might miss out on something tasty if we ran the other way  because we didn't want to compare which suited us better.

I was inspired to this notion by a recent visit with a friend of mine. She's also a home educating parent, and has children similar ages to mine. She had mentioned that she teaches her two youngest a Montessori-based preschool lesson for a couple hours each morning while her two oldest do independent school work. I was intrigued by the notion of separate dedicated learning times for the youngest, and have always loved the Montessori philosophy.

In our exchange of emails to set up a "school date" where I could come observe what she was doing, the issue of comparison reared it's ugly head. "Now, remember" she kindly admonished, "my parents helped us pay for a lot of our supplies and we've worked for quite a while getting all this set up".


When I arrived at her house several mornings later, I was slightly in awe of her well-appointed home classroom. But I assured her that even though I was comparing, it was for seemingly different reasons than most. I use comparison as a learning tool, and don't allow it to feed feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

I think so many times, we allow the gift of contrast, of difference in similarity to overwhelm our senses. We forget that being with people who are like us but are walking through their lives differently is a delightful opportunity to experience something new! We need to rejoice in seeing a familiar challenge conquered in an unfamiliar way.

I soaked up all I could that morning. No feelings of guilt, of "Oh, I should be doing better" or "Oh, my kids should be learning this too". Just clear-headed evaluation. We do it this way, she does it that way. Our way needs a little tweaking, is there anything she is doing that would enhance what we already have? Or sometimes, when I'm comparing to learn, I might even say to myself, "Oh my goodness! I"m sure glad we're NOT doing that! I like our way so much better!"

Comparing apples to oranges for the right reasons bears fruit. The delicious, juice-down-your-chin fruit of knowledge and self-discovery! I'm thankful to my friend for sharing her morning, her heart, and for giving me the opportunity to realize what a powerful thing comparison can be.

What about you? Does the word comparison make you shiver and crawl further into your shell? Or does it make you strain with anticipation to see what you'll learn next?





3 readers took time to leave a thought:

My2Gs January 24, 2011 at 8:25 AM  

Shelly,
Thank you so much for that AWESOME reminder.....as a woman, as a mom, as a parent. There are soooo many ways in which we can compare ourselves to other and let it defeat us and break our spirit. We just have to make the {choice} to look at it in a different light and to see what it can teach us.
Love ya gal!
~ Lacie

Lisa Marie January 24, 2011 at 6:16 PM  

I saw you on 4littlemen and thought I would visit. I so appreciate your post and completely agree. One thing I love is learning from other mamas. I think that it is a beautiful blessing to be inspired by someone...and if we don't let "competitive comparison" leading to guilty feelings get in the way then we can gain so much from each other...gleaning those amazing nuggets of wisdom that can be pivotal in raising our lovies.


Love - Lisa
www.4littlelovies.blogspot.com

11arrows January 24, 2011 at 7:26 PM  

I used to be terrible at comparing. I always thought I was the one who was wrong or at the very least thought I better reconsider my parenting/homeschooling ways. As Ihave watched my oldest turn 17 last year, I have finally began to see the rewards of the ways I have done things and thankful God has given me the wisdom for what was best for our family. It's all apples and oranges ya know! :)

Thanks for the reminder!

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