Comparing notes

It is easy to look at two children, same age and compare the two. Their features, their personalities, their toothy grins, their differences in motor skills. But just because something is easy, does not mean we should do it.

As the old saying goes, the grass is always greener, and sometimes, this rings true to Motherhood. Comparing your child to another is a useless and terrible thing to do. Terrible for you, as it causes unnecessary stress and worry, terrible for your partner, as I am sure they do not want to hear about how well your friend’s friend’s baby is doing and quite frankly it is terrible for your child, as you can’t help but wonder why your child is not like someone else’s child. It is terrible, and you know it, but, unfortunately it is extremely difficult to avoid.

I am guilty of comparing, although I have tried not to. As many times as I have told myself to ‘stop it, focus on your own milestones not anyone else’s’, I have found it impossible not to envy the development of another child of a similar age to Leo at times.

I am confident that people would compare their children to Leo. Which I wish they wouldn’t. Not only because of the whole unnecessary worry and stress factor, but because I am the mother of an over achiever, the exception, not the rule. Leo was born tall (97th percentile) and has stayed that way, because of this he seems older than he is and, lucky for him, his coordination helps with this. He rolled quickly, he crawled quickly, he took off walking before we were ready and now he is surprisingly stable and running. Leo eats everything in sight, he is cheery but wary at the same time, and, for the most part, been a good sleeper. We are extremely lucky, I am the first person to admit that, Leo has allowed me to slide into the role of Mum quite easily, but, there have been moments where I too have found myself looking on at others. Comparing if you will.

For example, I used to worry when people would comment on how quiet Leo was, how their baby said ‘Mum’ at seven months and ‘Dad’ at six. Leo hardly even babbled, he would rather observe. I would worry, until I realised what a great quality that is, to be able to sit back and observe, take it all in. Leo talks now, he is still mostly quiet, but then again so is his Dad. My Dad, in his speech at our wedding, said that Duncan is the type of man you listen to when he talks, that you know it’s worth listening to because he doesn’t just talk for the sake of talking, what a wonderful, controlled trait to have and maybe, if the world is lucky, Leo will be the same.

My other biggest hang up has been that, until recently, Leo has not been the biggest fan of daytime sleeps. Which, according to most people is ok as long as he sleeps at night, but a baby cannot last a whole day without getting tired and agitated. New mums also tend to get tired and agitated. I spent days exhausted and although I love being a mum and Leo is extremely fun to play with, I was so jealous of the mums whose babies liked to rest and in turn, give their mothers a rest. I would look at Leo (sometimes I still do) and wonder how he was still functioning without sleep. How can we know children that have two-hour naps during the day and it is a struggle to get Leo to have half an hour? How is that fair? It isn’t, but the annoying truth is, the mother whose baby is sleeping two hours is probably worried about why their baby is not reaching a milestone that someone else’s baby reached yesterday.

So as you can see there is this green circle of envy that surrounds new parents. Whether we like it or not, we can’t help but compare our children to others. We get caught up in this whirlwind of what our child should be doing not what they are actually doing. We tend to forget that every child develops differently, that it doesn’t matter what path we take, we all seem to make it to the same place in the end.

As a Mum and as a woman, I am, quite frankly, sick of the comparisons. We should turn it around. Comparison is only fraught with envy and jealousy when it is used in the wrong way. Comparison in mothers can be a good thing. As new mum’s we compare because we are unsure, we compare for advice and reassurance. We compare how we get our children to sleep or how we prepared pumpkin for them the first time they ate it.
So instead of looking at another child and wonder how they are crawling, while your child is still only just managing to sit, look at your child and appreciate the fact that they are still, the fact they still need you in a way that you will miss in a few months. Appreciate the small things. Speaking from experience the first year goes too quickly to be worrying about how your child matches up to anyone else’s. Resist the urge and stop comparing, you will feel so much happier for it, trust me.

MOODIES (5 of 76)

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7 thoughts on “Comparing notes

  1. All true Jess…we are only human with our thoughts!! …to my mind he is perfect,..as you all were,and as mine all were..xx:)

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. So true Jess. My little one is a great sleeper, great talker, reached the physical milestones on track – yet is very clingy and reluctant to go to other adults, and isn’t great playing and sharing with other children. Naturally all children will have their strengths and weaknesses. Well said 🙂

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  3. I battle with this all of the time! Because I know, without any doubt, that Little E is the most amazing kid to have ever graced mankind, I get a bit put out if another parent tells me something that their kid is doing before Little E. I have never been competitive until I became a dad. It’s an issue. (In fact I had a rant about this same topic last year: http://bigkidlittlekid.net/dadding-daily/the-parent-competition/)

    Right now I am having the opposite problem to you – Little E has suddenly decided to stop his midday naps. And I am not dealing with it well at all. Come mid-afternoon we are both emotional, aggravated messes and keep losing it at each other. It’s probably funny if you’re on the outside.

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  4. As women, comparisons don’t stop with our babies. We compare jobs, lives, husbands, schools, daycare, facebook profiles – and it’s completely counterproductive! I see the point of using something as a measuring stick but when it takes up majority of time it leaves you with nothing much left on your own life. Our job as a mum now is to role model this idea of not comparing ourselves with others to our children. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Yes that’d be great for no comparisons,its everywhere isnt it. I also had babies that didnt day sleep….. i did compare myself to those functioning mothers who’s babies napped for hours everyday .. they had showers, at lunch and read magazines.. even napped themselves. sigh.
    Thank you for contributing to The Sunday Brunch Magazine, we look forward to sharing your work, Eliza & Bel x

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