After becoming a mom, I posted on Facebook when my new baby boy was a week old and my best friend commented on my post: ‘congrats on keeping him alive for a week!’ I laughed of course, but in retrospect it was an important and significant achievement. Just surviving that first week, first two weeks, first month, and keeping my baby alive and fed and clean and happy was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But once I was out of that initial ‘haze’ and starting to interact with people again and getting out and about, a whole new kind of survival mode kicked in.
Having my son allowed me to discover what true love is (and true joy, aaand true sleep deprivation), but when he was about a month or two old I discovered something else: I started to obsess about what he was doing and how he was growing and developing. I think all new moms do this. The doctor asks if he can do certain things at a certain age and the sheer panic that runs through your mind if he can’t yet! I remember our first doctor’s visit with my lil dude after ‘graduating’ from our midwife (who I still miss to this day). He gave us a handout with a checklist on it, and at 2 months of age my son was supposed to be able to do everything on that list. Well the last item was a picture of a baby on his tummy and he was pretty much doing the cobra pose. Even today at 4.5 months my little one doesn’t love tummy time, so at 2 months there was no way he could lift himself up like that. I immediately told the doctor (or half screamed it at him) that he could NOT do what the baby in the picture could. Well, my doctor assured me that simply lifting his head off the ground was enough at his age. SIGH OF RELIEF.
That same afternoon my cousin was visiting with her little guy and I remarked at how wonderful it was that he was rolling over at his age. She said something to me that I will never forget and feel must be shared: he will do things when HE is supposed to do them.
This was a huge revelation for me. It immediately relieved me of my stress of worrying about whether or not my lil dude was doing what he should be. He was! Because he would grow and develop and learn to do things when HE was ready to.
Part of the problem is just being a mom to begin with. We all want what is best for our children and we all want them to be superstars and be awesome and be all that they can possibly be in life, but comparing them to others will only put unrealistic pressure on them to do things before they are ready. It’s tough of course, but most things in motherhood are. From how quickly we can get back into our pre-baby shape to how long (or if) we can breastfeed to how quickly our babies can roll over or sit up to what techniques we use to entice our little ones to eat, sleep, behave etc, we compare compare compare! Instead of comparing and competing we should be congratulating and supporting one another in keeping our little ones alive.
Of course that doesn’t stop me from asking for help and ideas. When visiting a friend she had her little guy jumping away in his jolly jumper with a look of sheer happiness on his face, so I asked her how she got him to actually jump. My little one liked the contraption but didn’t jump around in it, he kinda just hung there looking around. With the tips she gave me I practiced with him for a few days and now he jumps around like mad and loooves it. Hmm so I can do this!
Comparing doesn’t work. In fact, I have come up with a nice little list I like to call: The I’m not doing good enough thoughts that you must banish!’
- comparing to other moms
- comparing to other babies
- comparing development milestones. Except for medical problems, baby will develop when he/she should
Nowadays, instead of seeing another baby do something that my little guy doesn’t do (yet) and getting worried or anxious or thinking I need to run home and get my little one to do that right away, I think how AWESOME it is for that baby to be doing that and then I think how AWESOME my little one is to be doing what he is doing and how much I love him for just being him.
About the Author:
Lindsay is a first time mommy to Kienan and is loving it! She is originally from Calgary, AB and moved to Ottawa with her husband 3 years ago. She loves spending time with her new family in our nation’s capital.