Confession time. If I allowed myself to be, and if my husband wasn’t so fundamentally opposite of this, I could become one of those moms who constantly worries whether her child is doing what the other kids are doing, developmentally I mean. As much as I hate to admit it (and I do hate to admit it, but there is something cathartic about doing it), I want my baby to not only meet milestones on time, but to meet them early. Left unchecked, while I wouldn’t be one to push her (how do you do that to an almost 9-month old anyway?), I would spend more time than I would like worrying about it. Okay, I already do spend more time than I should thinking about it and without my husband and my mom to give me some perspective, I’m afraid I would easily fall into the comparison trap.
And while that is ridiculous and dangerous on so many levels, the most ridiculous part of all is that I believe my daughter to be perfect. I really do. Not that she will always act perfectly as she grows or do exactly what I want her to when I want her to do it, or be without flaw of any kind, but I honestly believe God gave us a wonderful, perfect gift when He chose to give us Annie. In my eyes, there is no baby more perfect – no baby smarter, funnier, more beautiful or more full of personality. I make no apologies for that and admit that with no shame. I mean, it’s kind of part of the job to think these things, is it not? Well, whether it is in the mama job description or not, it is true with us. And I like it that way.
So why don’t I focus on that instead of wondering whether she is crawling later than the other kids in her class at daycare? Why do I care whether some other kid is pulling up before she does? Or eating more table food? Intellectually, I know that all babies develop differently, and my baby certainly isn’t behind. So why can’t I internalize that information and get rid of the desire to prove to myself that Annie is right on target?
I think competition between parents over the development of their children is inspired, in many cases, by anxiety. You so want your child to fit in, so want her to be included and accepted and “normal.” Any evidence (or question) to the contrary is scary. And I guess on some level, when you talk with other parents and find out that their 6 month old is rolling over and yours isn’t or their 8 month old can say “mama” and mean it when yours can’t, you worry that it’s a sign. A sign that life will be harder for your perfect, beautiful, wonderful child. But how ridiculous is that?
|For the record, I think we're knocking on the door of crawling.|
Here’s one thing I know to be true: my baby is happy. Whatever her abilities (which, I feel compelled to say, I think are right on track), she is happy – loved, well cared for, and generally, just a pleasant child (although sometimes strongly opinionated, which I'm okay with…). Isn’t that what’s most important? Isn’t that what really matters? And not only is she happy, but she is also healthy. That right there is a gift…and one I don’t take for granted. Isn’t that the true blessing here? What more could you ask for as a parent? Absolutely nothing.
So here’s to internalizing what every pediatrician, childcare professional, and grandparent will tell you – all babies develop differently. And here’s to celebrating that difference. I feel especially silly typing this because just today I got all misty-eyed when I heard a tiny newborn crying in Target. I saw the weary look on her mother’s face which said both "I didn't get enough sleep last night," and "I don't know quite how to make this stop" and I remembered a specific time when I know I had the same look, in the same baby department, of the same store. And now, somehow time has moved at warp speed and we’re just over three months away from a first birthday party. I know time will continue to move faster than I want it to. I know there will come a day very soon when I will wonder why I was in such a hurry for Annie to meet milestones. Because, you see, meeting milestones means growing up. And who in their right mind wants to rush that?