**This is pulled from the dusty archives (circa 2017)…kind of a second chance for old words…so if it looks familiar, it’s because it is. Here’s hoping that it inspires you to live a little richer, breathe a little deeper, and appreciate a little more fully.**
You know that whole idea that little dogs that hang out with big dogs think they’re big dogs because they look at the other dogs and just assume they’re the same size? We call that the Chihuahua Syndrome over here. And Katie has it.
She hangs out with the boys all week long and while (luckily!) she doesn’t think she’s a boy, she does think she’s much bigger and much more capable than she is. Case in point: A few months ago the boys climbed up on top of the air conditioning unit and were jumping off with wild abandon. Katie followed, thinking she was quite capable of the same dangerous feat and ended up spraining her wrist in the process.
Sometimes it works to her benefit. She learned to swim at two, well and without fear, because her 4, 6 and 8 year old brothers were doing it. She “does” school and eagerly “writes” letters alongside the boys. She’s quite capable of self-care, never realizing that she’s got a two year gap between herself and the next brother. She demands equality, telling us that she can stay up as late as the boys, she can go on that ride at the fun park. Doggone it, she can DO whatever the boys can do. And it’s not about gender to her. It’s about a fuzzy view of self.
She looks at them as if it’s a mirror that reflects her while completely avoiding the fact that she is, in essence, nothing like them. She’s her own unique little being and she’s not meant to live her life as a reflection of someone else.
One day recently we were out bike riding and I was explaining to William about Katie and her chihuahua syndrome and, while the essence of the topic completely escaped Katie’s thoughts, it did manage to kick her imagination into gear and she said to me, “I’m the baby chihuahua and you’re the mama chihuahua.” After which she completely dissolved in a fit of giggles and “arfs.”
But her casual thought got me thinking. “…you’re the mama chihuahua.”
It’s true. So true.
I look at other moms and I treat them as a reflection of me and I begin to think that I must do what they do because, after all, I need to keep up with the big dogs. I click from Pinterest project to Pinterest project and scan beautiful blogs with beautiful stories and I actually allow myself to see me reflected in them. I meet a mom at playgroup and I see how calm and together she is and I think that’s what I should look like. I gather with friends and I am sure that their ideas are the answer to everything wrong in my life and I must do things just as they do. I allow myself to actually think that I must do whatever they do because, doggone it, even if it kills me, I must keep up with them.
I see the perfect cupcakes, the clean house, the adorably dressed children, the impeccable yard and I just keep trying to keep up.
But this is wrong. All wrong.
Because I am bound to fall and sprain my wrist if I continue to try to keep up with the big dogs.
How can I possibly read that beautiful post that reflects the journey of that family and allow myself to think that perhaps my journey is meant to look just like that? How can I see those Pinterest projects and think that doing something like that defines me as a mom? How can I continue to fall into the comparison trap knowing that I’ll always find myself lacking? How can I keep trying my best to be a big dog when I’m really just a little dog with my own little puppies?
I can try and try all I want but I’m NOT that mom. I’m me.
See my little family over here. We’re completely different than that family over there. Our house looks different. Our schooling looks different. Our meals look different. Our conversations sound different. Our journey is different.
3 thoughts on “Chihuahua Syndrome”
I must say that I thought a lot about this. In the end I came up with a different thought. I am not sure thought is what I want but at the moment it will do. I think that I was the same way in the first part of being a Navy wife, but along the way I realized that I WAS ME and they were them. I had to be true to myself!! It didn’t come easy but it was so liberating. I still had my days of struggle where I would fall back into the old self but I also could pull myself out. I became involved in counseling the drug and alcohol center at one of the Navy bases and it really helped me a lot. What I did was work with the family members of the drug and alcohol abusers and I played the part of their ” other” part. Meaning the part they wanted to ignore. It was not only liberating for them but for me as well. I understand the ” little dog/ big dog” syndrome as I call it. But it is not all bad. It can teach us all so much about ourselves and others and we can come to an understanding that hopefully helps us all accept others for who they are and not what they are.
Amen…you’ll always be admired as the wonderful woman, mother, wife and daughter that you are and not for whom you keep up with in the rat race.
Thank you. I too am a Mama Chihuahua without realizing it.
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