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.