One of the most fundamental aspect of our species is that we are constantly comparing everything. Walking down the street, our brains are constantly comparing the faces of strangers to faces of people we know. Isn’t that? …no, she’s too tall to be her. Comparing helps us cross the street and be safe—we have an image of a safe crosswalk in our brains, and we compare what we see on the street with that image before our feet leave the curb. Most comparisons keep us safe and healthy, while others simply make life far more complicated than it has to be.
More experienced parents have told me not to waste time comparing my family to other families. We all see only superficial details of the lives of others and then draw conclusions. “That two parent family has it made! They have a great house, two cars and their home is so organized.” The truth is that I have no real knowledge of the deeper details of that family’s situation. Perhaps, they have medical issues, or addiction issues or spousal abuse issues. Yet, I still wish we had as much money as my daughter’s friends do. Why do I spend so much time comparing my family of two to other families? Yesterday, I went to pick up Anisha from a play date and I couldn’t help but think, this is how the other half lives, the way we used to live. Most of all, I wish Natasha were here to help me make more money.
Cancer and the death of my wife dropped us to a lower income level. Plus, I have recently been diagnosed as being visually impaired—I am not blind, but my eye issues limit my employment options. We once lived in a house we owned, and now Daddy and daughter are living in a one-bedroom apartment. When Natasha died, moving into a one-bedroom apartment was meant to be a stepping stone to our next great home, but fate in the form of my diminished eyesight has changed all of that. My lower income means that we might end up living here for a long time, however, I know I need to find a healthy way out of the darkness that comparing delivers.
Losing my father-in-law, mother-in-law and wife has taught me that they only thing that matters is love. Death beds are all about love, not back accounts. My daughter and I have a very, very deep connection and I know, that her feeling loved will never be an issue. What will be an issue is money, and yes, I know the clichés, “Money doesn’t matter,” or “You can’t buy happiness,” but clearly money helps a lot. No matter how much we love each other, Anisha’s after school activities are not free. Swimming, soccer, piano and whatever she chooses to do next are all expensive. Not to mention, I am trying to keep up with my daughter’s university savings account. How can I possibly offer my amazing daughter, amazing opportunities?
One of the things I need to do is follow my wife’s example. Natasha was the queen of finding programs, funding and even great travel deals for young families and I need to become more like her. Canada is a rich country with a robust social safety net and education system which means the resources are there, so I just need to find them. Natasha has left me a great example of resourcefulness to strive for.
Regardless of how resourceful I become, it seems as though certain activities will always be out of reach for her. However, is that really true? Or, is that idea simply a product of comparing. I need to stop comparing my daughter’s life to the lives of her friends and accept that any hurdle in life is just that, a hurdle. More importantly, Anisha needs to see Daddy rise up above the grief and visual impairment and be an example of how to truly embrace everything that life has to offer. She absolutely will not benefit from her father giving into the negativity and self-doubt that comes with comparisons