Since when did everyone have to have a better child than the next person?
My son, Bruce, was born on a Tuesday, at 12:55pm. A healthy 8lbs, 22 inches long, after a total of 41weeks of pregnancy (I was induced, which will be subject of another blog, for another time). He became into the world kicking and screaming, and had made everyone who had had the blessing of knowing him, the happiest they could be.
We were lucky to have such a healthy baby. At the time he was the biggest born that I had personally known of (all my friends having tiny babies) and I had zero complications during pregnancy, other than scary Braxton Hicks from 25-39 weeks, and a son that just didn’t want to leave the womb come due date.
My first child, we counted fingers & toes, and were amazed at his ability to start picking his head up at five minutes old. We were able to achieve a natural birth with delayed cord clamping (which my ob was ecstatic about! ) and did skin to skin, for the first few hours of life uninterrupted, until a nurse needed to do something. Over the next few months, we recorded his growth and development with excitement, as he surpassed milestones months early.
And then I began to notice something peculiar…
I first noticed it in the various mommy groups I’m a member of in social media. Then I noticed it amongst personal friends. Maybe it was just an update on how a baby was developing-maybe it would be a question on milestones not being reached by a certain age. But with every post there was one common denominator- mixed in with the praises and congratulations, there was almost always one of these:
“My daughter started sitting up last week, how old is yours again? “
“Is he crawling yet? My son is the same age and started crawling right away!”
“That’s awesome! My son already cruised at this age! “
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with bragging on your kids. It’s natural, unavoidable, and after nine months of baking baby, how can you not show off every little movement with pure ecstasy over what you created?
Like most mad scientists, if I’m meeting you for the first time, you probably have at least five minutes before I’m shoving pictures of my “monster” in your face, demanding that you join me in relishing his beauty.
The internet is the best place to confuse words and intention for lack of two things:
Tone & facial expression.
For new parents and those with worries about their child’s development, it can cause a great amount of anxiety if they mis-read these individual bragging rights & casual comments as ‘criticism’ or even ‘concern’ of/for their baby’s well being.
I noticed a lot of times when I reported Bruce rolling over, scooting, attempting to crawl, all the basic milestones, I would have one of extremes: either someone doubted me because of his age (because I’m totally going to make up that my kid is waaayyyy beyond yours. Its crawling, not acheiving a college degree at 6 months old) or became very concerned for their own child because they hadn’t hit that Mark yet.
I do think that mommys groups, and even just talking with friends, is a great way to help detect possible developmental delays. If you notice your baby isn’t doing the same things as other babies his/her age, identifying issues that much sooner, and working with interventionist/doctors, can be a great help. But we all have to remember that children do things at their own pace-some skipping certain, once thought important “milestones”, such as crawling, altogether. This doesn’t mean your child isn’t growing properly. Its just by their own design.
“Well my child-“
Which brings me to my point: don’t worry about other people’s babies. They are going to do them just as yours is gonna do his/hers. If you suspect delays, talk with your pediatrician, NOT the Facebook mommy group! Anyone’s opinion or experience is only going to be biased by one thing: their child. And their child isn’t your child. Yes, you might learn valuable information from friends and social groups, but their children’s developments should not be taken as the blueprint for yours.
And don’t let’s others comments get to you. Yes, my son is only a month older than yours. Maybe he’s faster than the norm? This isn’t a slight against anyone if my baby is developing faster than your baby. That’s just his pace.
Oh, your daughter was already walking by this time? Awesome! That’s great! My child goes to regularly scheduled doctor appointments, and if I feel a cause for concern because I think something is wrong, then we will discuss it. I’m not going to hold my child up to anyone else’s, to judge how they should be growing and behaving.
And I ask this of ALL parents-let your baby grow at their own pace. There is no competition to see who’s baby is walking and talking first. Don’t feel like you are letting your child down in some kind of way if the Jones’s kid is crawling on all fours while yours is still army crawling backwards (mine did this for a while before he figured out to take it out of reverse! ). And don’t feel like anyone questioning you on your child’s age, and other milestones, is some type of challenge. Maybe they are worried about development (which if you learn that is the case, encourage them to speak to their pediatrician). Maybe they are questioning your claims, and just can’t believe your baby is growing so fast. If it’s the latter, then don’t let it bother you-you know your baby, and if she/he is just ahead of Suzy Q’s kid, then be proud of your child’s achievement and don’t let the attitude of others prevent you from your right to brag as a parent.
Just remember there’s no winner or loser when it comes to watching your baby learn and grow. Its not a competition. Its the journey of life you are taking with your child.