I've been mulling over this topic for a while now, and then it came up in conversation with my friend Nicole the other day...so I decided it was time to figure out a way to articulate this and come clean about the thing that I've found the most challenging about being a new momma.
I know full well that a baby's development is a whole lot like driving directions in Atlanta...there are three million ways to get to any given place, but if you drive around long enough, you're bound to get there in the end. Turn right on Peachtree, hang a left on Peachtree, and make sure not to miss Peachtree, because it will be at the end of Peachtree, right?
But...that doesn't really provide much comfort when you've got the mom at Gymboree whose 5 month old has been sitting for a month, and your 6 month old still topples over if you let go for a second. It doesn't make it easier when you meet a friend at a play date and all she wants to do the entire time is sit there and compare milestones. And it doesn't really help when you get your weekly Baby Center email and you can only check off MOST of the milestones. And you know what? It seems like the earlier a baby meets a milestone, the more the momma wants to brag about it. My baby was sleeping through the night at 3 weeks old. My baby was sitting at 4 months old. My baby has been rolling over for months.
Anyone see that Real Housewives of Orange County where the two moms were on the playground, and they spent their entire time trying to one-up each other in terms of their kids' intellect and counting skills?
I know it sounds utterly ridiculous when you have a perfectly healthy and happy baby. I know full well every week in a baby's development brings major changes, and they can literally accomplish a new "trick" overnight. But it's SO hard not to sit there and compare. And it can really do a number on you mentally if you dwell on it. I feel so guilty sometimes when I obsess over Anna meeting a milestone when she's on the later end of the age range, because I look at her happy little face chewing on Sophie, or I hear her excited squeals when she's jumping in her Jumperoo...and she's perfect. She is such a beautiful little girl, and is it really going to make a difference in the long run that she started sitting at 7 months vs. 6 months, or that she didn't really start liking solids until a little later? Of course not.
And why am I wasting precious moments with her because I'm so obsessed about what other babies are doing?
The older she gets, the more benefit I see in just completely disconnecting from the research, the message boards, the play dates, and Gymboree for a few days and reconnecting with all the blessings this little girl has brought to our lives. I focus on her perfect, sweet smile. I focus on her excited giggle when Kingsley or Daddy walk by. I focus on getting her out into the fresh air and finding new things for her to see. I focus on all the accomplishments that she HAS, not the ones that aren't quite there yet. It's still not easy and I still really struggle sometimes, but I owe it to her not to stress about this.
She's got the whole rest of her life to grow up, and she'll get there when she gets there. I just need to remember not to miss Peachtree because I'm too busy looking for Peachtree.