Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's not a contest

I can't help it. Whenever I meet up with the other mums at the two coffee groups I attend, it's impossible not to compare their babes with mine. Usually I notice how all the other 8-month-olds are already crawling and standing, or that no-one else looks as haggard from lack of night time sleep. It's entirely possible that Baby is miles ahead of ninety percent of her age group in braininess, but that sort of thing isn't exactly obvious to the naked eye is it?

On this sunny afternoon Baby and I went for a walk through the Botanic Gardens with a friend and her 4-month-old boy. I was already anticipating that at least some of our talk would be about how her boy has started to sleep long stretches from 8pm till 2am, and had mentally rehearsed how I would tell her to shut up already. Fortunately, my friend was kind enough - and perceptive enough - to avoid the subject of sleep, except to assure me that he isn't napping much during the day either.

The advice which experts give us is always that we shouldn't compare our children to others', because "every baby is different" (and if I hear a Plunket nurse utter that phrase one more time I'm going to throw a hissy fit). But isn't that how we work out whether we are normal? By comparing ourselves and our own to the rest of the population?

6 comments:

EB said...

The contest thing seems to be a common trial for parents.

Juliabohemian said...

First of all, there is no such things as "normal". There is a median by which we measure things, an average if you will.

The average baby sleeps 8 hour stretches by 4 months. One of my kids did this, the other was about 2 years old when she finally slept through the night.

The average child walks at 12 months. One of my children did this, the other one at 16.5 months.

Some babies are born with teeth and some don't get any until they are one year old.

You are just going to have to keep telling yourself that these things are trivial. Each person's life and experience with their baby is entirely unique. If meeting with these other women is not an uplifting and positive experience, then I suggest you look elsewhere for support. The purpose of these Mom type groups is to be reassured, not discouraged.

Jon said...

Just wait until baby is in college, and after that starts working. So many parents do the bragging thing, talking about how great their kid is and what they are doing. I can't really see yo doing this, and that's a good thing. :)

Make Tea Not War said...

I really don't like the competitive thing either. One friend of mine always had to go on about how her child had more hair than mine. But in fairness I might have made her feel bad by telling her about my daughters advanced language skills. I wasn't doing it to make her feel bad- just making conversation really but its a difficult balance.

If its any consolation in the end things like who crawled first are irrelevant when the kids are all running.

Anonymous said...

Nolan doesn't sleep either. It's irrelevant, but misery loves company, right?

I feel your pain, Violet!

Violet said...

eb: it does, doesn't it? I've just seen two articles on the subject in the latest issue of Practical Parenting.

juliabohemian: You're right, of course. I now treat the mothers' groups as a form of socialising, and rely on various online bulletin boards for support - out in cyberspace there are plenty of mums who are anxious about their respective kids' foibles.

jon: Actually I think it's a Cantonese thing to avoid talking up your kids. I don't subscribe to that idea so much, but I guess I've probably subconsciously picked it up from my mum (who never bragged about me within my earshot).

mtnw: I can't even blame the other mums for bragging about their kids. It's all me noticing what they're doing and making all the comparisons. I deserve a big slap on both wrists (except I still have that wrist problem so don't).

anonymous: thank you for not having a sleeping baby!