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Apples and Pears

Comparing two kids really is like comparing apples and pears. Chalk and cheese. Blue and orange.

I mean, in my own home, I have two spawn - each grown in my very own womb, each fathered by the very same man. They couldn't be more different. And I know baby is only (barely) eight months old and the similarities may start coming fast and furiously soon, but at the moment, I am not even talking about their personalities. Toddler cut her first tooth at thirteen months, baby at seven. Toddler was a skinny, petite little babe, Baby is strong, a.k.a chubby. Toddler needs a minute or ten when she wakes up before she smiles, Baby wakes up smiling. Toddler has yet to sleep through, Baby has a bad night when she wakes merely once.

Same input, totally different outcome.

And then we mothers start comparing our children of similar ages to their peers. you know the drill, "What? Your baby is crawling already?" or "Oh? Your baby can count to twenty at two years old, well mine can sing the national anthem in four different languages!" So. Freaking. What.?. Why even bother? It's stressful and damn-near evil. They'll all grow up in the end. And if we're lucky, they learn to sing the national anthem and count to twenty.

But yet we all do it. I feel sad when I fall prey to doing it because it is something I feel so vehemently against. I found myself feeling slighted the other day when friends were talking about the fact that their daughters were doing so well at dance class. Toddler is desperate to dance and I have not had the courage to take her to lessons, yet. I feel there is still time. she only starts school next year and then she may be over stimulated in the beginning. There is still time.

But these little tots are already doing their first ballet recitals. Shit. So much for time.

Or so I felt for a while.

Babies and toddlers don't need ballet or national anthems or counting to be happy. They don't even need those things to reach their supposed milestones. Part of the fun of life is learning as we go. Don't you remember what it was like to have your first kiss? If you were like me, you were one of the first girls in your class to be kissed and your friends all sat in awe as you told the story of how it happened. Or maybe you were one of the friends. Imagine you had all been kissed at the same time, on the same day, in the same way. It would make life terribly boring. No romance movies or novels could be created because every story would be the same. yawn.

Imagine all babies learned to walk on exactly the same day, at the same time. Not only would it be chaos, it would be a logistical nightmare getting prepared for the event the world over. About three hundred and seventy THOUSAND babies are born every day. Assuming they all lived to make it to one year, (which is a naive prayer, I know,) imagine that was d-day for walking?! Chaos.

And imagine all the mothers of those same three hundred and seventy thousand babies trying to deal with their three hundred and seventy thousand teeth cutting at the same time. In the same painful way. It would be loud if they were all like my baby, and go completely unnoticed if they were all like my toddler. (She cut her first tooth without even breaking a sweat; one minute it wasn't there, the next it was.)

Your baby, or my baby, is a completely unique child. As difficult as it may be to accept this fact, you will need to realise that at some point you will screw up and miss something. I may be depriving the world of the next great ballerina with my "there's still time" stance. Who knows. If Andre Agassi's dad had waited until he was three to start training him to become a tennis star, rather than at birth, maybe he would have loved tennis, but been less good at it. Who knows.

I just don't think it's ever fair to compare your child to mine. Sometimes I will envy what your child has and mine doesn't. But sometimes you will envy me. I hate it, for instance, when I hear about children who sleep well at night because my toddler doesn't. Which has been a long three years for us. But then that same mom to a sleeping baby tells me that she has a fussy eater, and I beam with pride and say that Toddler eats everything and better still, loves eating new things. She's a brave eater.

Life is so fleeting - excuse the cliche, but there's a point to it - and our spawn grow up so quickly we may miss the small moments if we keep looking for the larger milestones. We may also miss those small, magical moments if we are constantly looking over our shoulders to compare our kids to the kids next door, (or across the park.)

If your child is happy most of the time, you're doing a good job.

If your child is healthy most of the time, not only are you incredibly blessed, but you are also doing a good job.

Does your baby go to sleep at night tummy full and heart secure? If you answered yes, you're doing a good job and again, you are enormously blessed to be able to say that.

This short journey of bringing our kids safely into a phase of life where they turn around and yell "You're the worst mom I ever had!" at us, before storming off to the mall/club/movies/friend's house and slamming the door on their way out, is one of discovery for all involved. And just when you think you know your first born and therefore you know kids, your second comes along and throws the world off it's axis. And you need to start learning from scratch. As for the kids, each day is something new for them too. We need to appreciate and nurture that. We need to provide a safe area - with good boundaries - in order for them to explore and find themselves.

That horrible expression "helicopter parenting" became fashionable just after I left school. It's not cool to be a mom who hovers over your child's every move and who gets overly involved in every decision they make. Gosh, all they really need is love and consistency. And food and water. But emotionally, love and consistency I reckon are the most important things to a child. Probably the most important emotional requirements to most adults too.

Finally, don't ever forget that having a child is a privilege not all people get to experience, and some have to fight really big battles in order to gain the privilege. Some of my friends have had horrible experiences trying to have children and some have yet to become mothers at all. Why then, when we have this awesome gift in our arms, do we feel the need to weigh up the pros and cons against others? Besides, any flaw your child has, is at least partly your fault. The rest can be blamed on Dad. And if not on Dad, then at least on his side of the family.  



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