(This post first appeared on www.meetothermums.com)
I’m not a ‘Competitive Mummy’ (I don’t think so anyway!) but I do suffer from milestone envy. This is the constant worry that my baby is somehow falling behind in his milestones as I watch other babies conquer them one after the other. I tell people that he’ll do it when he’s ready, but who am I really trying to convince?
Every day since my baby was born, I always get asked the same standard set of questions:
Is he rolling over yet?
Is he sitting up yet?
Can he crawl yet?
Is he sleeping through the night yet?
Does he have any teeth yet?
I smile. I politely, yet confidently, reply informing whoever that my baby will do it (whatever ‘it’ happens to be) when he’s ready.
The trouble is I don’t always believe myself. The constant questioning about my baby’s ability to ‘perform’ certain tasks seems to plant seeds of niggling doubt in my brain. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t shift these doubts or stop them from growing. I start thinking to myself should he be doing x by now? Why can’t he do y when so and so can? Is he falling behind?
This started pretty much from the get go. Something that I think makes it worse is the fact that F is the oldest in our antenatal group of 6 babies; with the youngest being born almost exactly one month later. In my naive pre-baby thinking, it seemed logical that F’s the oldest therefore he’ll reach the milestones first and the others will follow.
Not so… obviously.
I’m well aware now that milestones don’t work like that, there’s no set order to them, there’s no set age to reach them – but that doesn’t take away the paranoia and (yes, I don’t like it but I can’t help it) envy too. Why can’t he do ‘it’ yet?
When will this end… Who reads first? Rides their bike? Counts to 10? Gets into university?!
As soon as he suddenly reaches said milestone, I feel proud as punch of my baby. But I also feel a pang of guilt; saddened that another small part of the baby stage has gone – and I wished it away! I was in a rush for him to ‘keep up with the Jones’ and reassure me that he was meeting his ‘age related expectations’ (sometimes I hate that I’m a teacher!)
The small part of me that KNEW he’d do it when HE WAS READY was, wait for it… RIGHT! I’m trying my hardest to plant that seed and make that the one that flourishes. He CAN and he WILL in his own sweet time.
I’m trying to remember each and every day to: slow down and smell the roses, to cherish the moment and enjoy each stage for what it is. Basically, to just relax.
From time to time, I catch myself asking the very same paranoia inducing questions that I hate; and I feel awful for it. Next time I chat to a mummy or daddy I will simply say, ‘Your baby looks so happy, you must be doing a good job!’