The Triple Nipple

I feel silly writing about challenges this week when I have a childhood friend who just had a brain tumor removed.  A woman at work lost everything in a fire a few days ago.  My college roommate is sorting through her father’s house and decided what to keep, what to donate, what to sell.  My friend’s husband is trying to find a job.  There are people all around me with urgent and emergent challenges.

I have annoyances.  Inconveniences.  Overscheduling dilemmas.  Middle class problems.  Chronic versus acute.

But that brings me to a challenge that saps some of my energy every day, no matter the day.  I know my life would be better if I could find a way to step away from it.  My challenge is comparing myself to others.

You’ve read this far and I still haven’t explained the Triple Nipple title.  That’s called burying the lede, kids.

nailed it

In my racing mind, every person I encounter is doing something better than I am.  If you are a stay at home mom, I’m not spending enough time with my kids.  If you are a career dynamo, I am a schlub compared to you because I want to protect my family time.  If you run, that makes me regret that I used to run.  If you dress well, I am reminded that I don’t put much effort into my clothes.  If you remember to use your crockpot, you are so much more organized than I am.  If your daughter always has a hair bow to match her dress and her shirts never have spots on them, I am a lazy slattern who can’t dress her children.  If you drive too slowly, I am a speed demon.  If you drive too fast, I am clearly in the way.  If you drink coffee, I am foolish for drinking Diet Coke.

Now don’t think you need to scroll down there to the comments and tell me how stupid and unhealthy this is.  I pay a professional to do that.  And sometimes I apologize to my therapist for taking up her time when there are people out there with real problems.  Depending on the day, she might say, “Yeah, and this crazy shit makes you one of them.”

Somewhere along the way I decided that everyone else was really acing this whole grown up life thing and I am the only one fumbling around.  I compare my blooper reel to their highlights tape.  My inside to their outside.  These comparisons are the source of my anxiety because I am constantly judging and measuring and assuming that I am being judged and measured.  And coming up short.

But I do try to remind myself of the old adage that says if we all stood in a circle and showed our problems, we would snatch back our own as quick as a wink.

One day I was sitting at lunch with some of my delightfully brilliant girlfriends when a woman walked by.  Libby said how pretty her dress was, so we all looked over and it was.  I recognized the woman from my kids’ school and said, “Y’all…I don’t know how she does it.  Her kids are adorable and she and her husband actually enjoy talking to each other and at the Easter egg hunt they all have on coordinating seersucker outfits and she brings homemade decorated sugar cookies to the potluck and she just had a baby about four months ago and her hair is so shiny and she finds time to work out and has a full-time job but her kid is never the last one picked up from daycare…”

And that’s when Nicole looked up from her salad and shrugged.

“She’s probably got a third nipple.”

Well, that’s an excellent point.  

We all have something we don’t show to everybody, something that makes us feel weird or not normal.  Now when I find myself comparing and judging, I dwell on that possible third nipple instead.  

Guess what?  One in 18 men has a “supernumerary nipple” and 1 in 50 women does too!  Even the triple nipple isn’t as uncommon as we think.

I love this cartoon.  I’m getting there–to the place of AWESOME and ALSO AWESOME–but it’s a challenge.


43 thoughts on “The Triple Nipple

  1. Susie

    Ashley you are soooo awesome/also awesome!! How do you find time to write this blog on top of everything else you do?? We do all have that third nipple, but thankfully, as we age, we find this easier to accept in ourselves, as well as others.

  2. Proverbs 31 Wannabe

    Not only do you manage to totally connect with my feelings, you make me chuckle while doing so. You’re awesome!

  3. Cynthia @ Flotsam of the Mind

    Perspective is important, so I understand your chronic vs. acute disclaimer, yet it’s another example of measuring yourself against others. You’re not complaining about your burden or asserting your challenge is the worst imaginable. You’re allowed to admit that something is hard for you without having to justify it. The prompt was “a challenge you face” not The Most Awful Challenge in the World.

    Great post. I love the title and the story behind it.

  4. christymimi

    I needed this column’s “we’re all awesome” advice as I head to the wondrous world of Dragon*Con this weekend and see the costumes people have slaved over since last year. I mean, sure, if I weren’t too lazy to breathe I would have done that, too, but instead I’ll enjoy day-drinking gin and enjoying others’ amazing handiwork. Keep rocking, Ashley!

  5. Kelley

    Preach it, sister. I have been working hard for a while on just being me and that being OK! Life goes too fast and presents too many challenges to waste a minute trying to be somebody else. God only made one you. You are here to do something only you can do…..if we were all the same we would only need one of us. Thanks for this!

  6. Michelle

    One day a friend in the kindest way said … “you’re smart …why aren’t you doing more” and I’ve let that play and play in my head, it’s played so much that the digital version is getting warped.

    Last week I had the revelation that perhaps I’d like to be a housewife, then I’d have nothing to prove. That’s gotten a lot of laughs around here, because I can walk past a sink full of dirty dishes and not even wince. Which proves I may not be that awesome at that.

    And while I do know I am awesome, sometimes it’s hard to remember because I compare and am compared to others highlight reels, too.

    Thanks for the reminder about how very awesome we both are, and that the other person has some third nipple or oddity that they’re keeping secret, too.

  7. Tracy Ward Tilley

    If I had a third nipple, it would probably lactate and then I would really have problems! LOL. That would so be me! Walkin’ around. Shootin’ milk out of a third frickin’ nipple. And if anyone said anything, I would shoot them with the milk. LOL. I suppose I’m having a bad day! As Elizabeth would say, “I know, right?” Love ya Ashley!

  8. Brenda

    That is all the rock-solid truth. We all have bad days where brushing our hair seems like the impossible dream. Even the perfectly pressed, monster mommies. 🙂

      1. Brenda

        Don’t we all? Is that our third nipple? Shouldn’t we be celebrating them for raising the flag of womanhood high? Nah, I can’t do it either. 🙂

  9. Pleun

    You forget to use the crockpot? Really? I think it’s the best invention EVER, together with internet maybe 🙂 But seriously, you nailed it with saying: “I compare my blooper reel to their highlights tape. My inside to their outside.” That’s all there is to it, and in my mind that is exactly why comparing yourself to others is destructive. So good to hear you are trying to give up on it 🙂

  10. Amanda Harris

    I was going to write “thank you for this, I really needed to read this today in particular,” but actually, I need to read this MOST days! In the 70s, Gail Sheehy wrote a book called passages which discusses the stages of adult development. One of the big phrases that stuck with me was that most of us feel like we’re faking adulthood until we hit 40 and then we’re able to embrace it. WHAT??? I STILL feel like I’m faking it or at best, doing it badly. I need to let that 40yo marker go!! Because I have a lot of life to live without constantly comparing where I am to where 40-year-olds in the 70s were. So thank you for the reminder that even the seemingly most put-together adults still have crap going on that most of the world doesn’t see.

      1. Brett

        um..ok Misriz Garrett. I’m gonna have to ask you to re-read August 27th’s post. That perfect looking lady with the sugar cookies and adorable, well dressed children at the Easter egg hunt, is taking about 35 Oxycontin a day. She WISHED she had a third nipple.

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  12. Amber

    No, no, I don’t want everyone to be honest about not having it all figured out! If that were the case we’d all panic, there would be chaos because in truth I don’t think I know a single person who has it all figured out! Who’s running this ship anyway?!?! ahhhhh! Funny stuff Ashley, I DO love your honesty!

  13. Heart To Harp

    I heard this on a radio talk show that I can’t remember the name of. It might have been a book title that was being discussed. It is a pithy thing to tell yourself when the comparisons start: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and by gosh, people like me.”
    That pretty much says it!

  14. Allison

    I find myself looking for the “like” button so that I can “upvote” all the comments from everyone. Vocabulator! Also awesome! Wish I was a housewife! (ha! says the woman who is a housewife and now thinks maybe she wasted her life just raising kids.) So much love here. From me to Ashley and all your commenters.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      “just raising kids.” Are you KIDDING ME? You make the world a better place EVERY DAY.

  15. tanyadiva

    Doesn’t Mark Wahlberg have a third nipple? I had always heard it was thus. I long for the day I stop comparing myself to others or getting upset when I have to do more with less, or feeling that nothing I do has any value. These are the negative thoughts I work very hard to keep at bay. It is difficult, but I will never stop TRYING. And every day, it will get a little easier!

  16. gritgirl78

    Nail and head, baby, nail and head. Henry is fussing and crying a ton these days, and wants his daddy more than me. What am I doing wrong? Wouldn’t Ashley do it SOOOOO Much better?

  17. Michelle

    Well, I just love you! And, I am so glad that I AM NOT the only one who feels batshit crazy sometimes. Thanks for being brave and bold enough to put it out there.


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