Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with other wine lovers and professionals about the great wines coming out of the Finger Lakes. We tasted Lemberger, Pinot Noir, and two Russian grapes that were new for me, Sapervi and Sereksiya. I always learn something from the producers and writers, but this year, one 140 character tidbit in particular keeps ringing around in my head. Julia Burke, NyWineWench, wrote “Nice of YOU to appreciate it (instead of comparing NY reds to Napa cab)! ” to which Mary Cressler of Vindulge responded, “No way!! NY is NY. CA is CA. OR is OR. Absolutely no need to ever compare to each other. They are who they are!” This idea is one that extends to other areas of our lives, doesn’t it?
If you have been drinking wine for any period of time, you’ve likely come across the idea of terroir, the expression of the land found in wine. Now, there are debates over this, but I’ll leave you to research that for yourself. I am more interested in the general idea of comparing. If you open a Pinot from New York and expect it to taste like one from California, you might be taken aback. If you open one from Burgundy and expect it to taste like one Oregon, you may (or may not) be surprised. Regardless of your expectation, if you don’t take the time to stop comparing, and enjoy it for what it is, you are likely going to miss out on something special.
The other night my brother-in-law made a fish dish, Halibut with Balsamic strawberries. I opened a Pinot from New York, hoping it would work, but it didn’t have the level of acid I was looking for. My husband suggested one of our “flagship” Pinots but I knew that it would be too big, too much black fruit for the dish. We opened the 2010 Stoller Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills and it was just right. Gorgeous cranberry red, red fruit, spice, a bit of fennel. Lovely.
Each Pinot had its own personality and it would be hard to compare them. One was great with fish while the other paired nicely with mushroom risotto. The other wine is big and beautiful, but it would have overpowered the dish. You just need the right wine for the right dish.
After a long day of mothering, a dear friend and I went for a walk last night, after dinner was served, dishes were done, while our husbands gave the children a bath. She was feeling pretty beat up. The worst offender? Herself. You see, she is a fantastic mom, but she doesn’t see it. She only sees that another friend never seems to lose it and she has THREE kids. She wonders how I find time to write and I have TWO kids. She thinks that she is not allowed to have a bad day and that she has no excuse for not get everything done because she only has ONE child. Which is funny, because I look at her super clean house and see how she’s so good and playing with her son and instructing him. I see that she’s in fantastic shape and takes him to the park and museum while I send my kids out in the yard so I can have 30 minutes to write.
Being a mother can, at times, feel like equal parts of joy and suffering. Comparison likes to rear its ugly head in both arenas. Comparing the successes and milestones, comparing the challenges and woes. This Mother’s Day, I challenge you, I challenge myself, to see the coming year through different eyes. How different would our day look if we choose grace, love, and mercy, not only for children but for ourselves? If instead of “doing more” we find peace and satisfaction in the “being?”
Brené Brown talks a lot about comparing in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. In the book, her friend reminds her that “Comparison is the thief of happiness.” Isn’t it though? She reminds us that comparison is “paralyzing” and prevents us from being creative. If creativity is an expression of self, and we are worried about how we measure up to another’s standard, how can we be fully ourselves? If we try to mother our children in the way our neighbor does, is that really best for our child? There is always more to learn, ideas and inspiration to gain from others. But if we aren’t living authentically and being true to ourselves, living “wholeheartedly” as Brown say, then we are not fully living. You are the best mom for your child. You in your whole, complete self. Your whole and complete self can only be found by giving ourselves the space to be different, the grace to grow and fail.
Motherhood is full of “doing.” There is always more to “do.” But do you also value the being? There is a danger when our focus is on the “doing” rather than “being.” Life becomes exhausting and “it” will never get “done.” Is your value tied to what you accomplish or do you believe that who you are is enough? Being available to question while they explore? Being an example in your career or at the grocery store? Being a constant in their lives? A source of comfort? Isn’t that just as important?
Our children are a reflection of us in so many ways-in appearance, in behavior, talents, and challenges. Sometimes the reflection can be a little hard to take. Sometimes, it reflects something beautiful. It always reflects a unique image, an image that IS enough, just right for your child, just right for you. Do you appreciate its unique beauty or are you too busy comparing?
Addie Broyles of the Austin American Statesman interviewed me this week for pairings with a Mother’s Day brunch. One question she asked was what I wanted for Mother’s Day. In the pre-coffee fog, my immediate response was to not do dishes and to have a few moments of peace. Now, I still stand by that, but with some time to think, I have an additional response.
This Mother’s Day, I wish all of my friends, those that are mothers and those that are not, peace. Peace with oneself, peace in your home. May you come closer to understanding your fullness and not feel the need to compare. Enjoy what you can, let go of what you don’t. Do the dishes, don’t do the dishes, but keep it in perspective. Rejoice in the successes of others and strive to find your own success, with your OWN definition. Love big and with grace. And enjoy what is in YOUR glass, right here, right now.
I need to add a big Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom, a woman who always loved big, who was always there, and has never fully seen all the beauty in her own reflection. Cheers!