We know not to compare. We know that every baby is different. Given a long enough timeline, nearly every baby will talk and walk and have all their teeth. We’re all doing the best we can and we’re good, loving parents. The constant comparison with other mothers is silly, we know all this. So why do misgivings creep in and ask why our baby isn’t doing what we see another baby doing.
Did you see that baby at story time? Nine months and already walking, signing, saying mama, and probably running a hedge fund. My one-year-old still doesn’t walk! And he doesn’t yet say ‘mama.’ Is something wrong? Should I be doing more?
It’s as common to the motherhood experience as seeing another mom whose body is fit as a fiddle three months after giving birth. We all feel that constant comparison, that need to measure up to those around us. We feel it for ourselves and we feel it for our babies. Why? Because we’re caring, emotionally-fragile humans who have embarked upon an intensely personal, public, and terrifying journey of child-rearing. Often times your decisions are put on display, amid other parents, who might be handling the same situation differently.
Here’s the thing you need to remember, and I’m going to be blunt: no one cares. I don’t mean about you as a person, I mean about you as a parent. In this age of internet overload, where there’s a deluge of contradictory information telling you how you should be raising your child, it’s easy to think that every choice you make has huge repercussions. There are message boards for mothers that seem to be safe spaces until the topic of sleep training or childcare appear and then it’s a vicious blood bath with an impressive amount of emotional shrapnel.
Look, I know it can seem like everyone is judging you out there but they’re not. We’re all too busy trying to watch our own kids. I know it’s easy to start the comparison game. It feels like when your best friend’s kid is walking, she’s walking AT your kid. When you find out half the moms in your play group are doing an intensive baby sign language series, it feels like they’re taking these classes AT you.
Even the most outwardly perfect parents have bad days. Instagram and Pinterest like to show an idyllic side of parenthood but we all know that isn’t the reality 95% of the time. Even that fit, yoga-lean mama has blow-outs to clean up, tantrums to handle, and insecure days. We may feel isolated when our children seem to be lagging behind, but every step is unique to our kids and to us.
I promise, when it comes down to it, we’re all just doing the absolute best job we can. Parenthood is a long game, and these mini milestones and personal choices are all going to fall away in the presence of the only thing that really matters: Do you love your kid? Are you doing your best? That’s all that matters. We’re all going to have walking, talking, teething little humans in no time, so enjoy the ride and stop the comparison.
And if anyone gives you any lip about how you’re raising your kid, there’s a universal sign you can give right back without signing up for a single class!