Since I got pregnant, I have heard over and over - "Every pregnancy is different," and since the baby was born "Every baby is different." The purpose of these statements I have decided is to help you feel better when things are not going as swift for you as they "should" be according to the "normal" development guidelines. It doesn't stop the envy though.
Every milestone your child reaches is exciting. First roll over, first attempt to speak, first smile - even the first time they really look at you. These are all very exciting moments for parents. I know I can only speak for myself but in those moments not only do I feel elation and excitement ( and the need to instantly contact all my loved ones and go on and on about how great it is) but I also feel relief. It's a feeling of "Good, he finally did that!" or "He CAN actually do that," or "He's right on schedule, developing normally." I can't help feeling it. I try the adage that he's unique and will reach the milestones when he's ready but when he seems a little behind I am on alert. I think it's only human nature to feel this way.
Myself and my other mommy friends are constantly sharing each other's excitement for when our babies sit up or crawl or even when they finally like the food they are eating. We also share our pain when one of the babies is sick or struggling to cut a tooth. I can honestly say that I feel genuine excitement for another child achieiving a milestone, more so now than ever - I guess that is simply because I can directly relate to the situation. However, if my child is older than another child that is already rolling over and mine hasn't yet I'm a bit nervous. Another scenario is if a child a month older than my son and is now sitting up, I tell myself that okay - he now has a month to master this skill. Again, I can't help it! I know I shouldn't be comparing my child to others but its tough!
We all want our children to be healthy and develop as they "should" and no matter what we are told to think, we can't help worrying it if our little one is a little bit behind schedule compared to his/her baby friends. I even find myself trying to make a friend feel better if my son does something on an earlier time line such as say "mama" with things like "I'm sure she'll learn that soon," or "He just suddenly started to do it, you'll be surprised how fast it happens" or even "She has a tooth already! He doesn't have any!" as if having the tooth will compensate for lack of speaking.
The key point with all of this is - it's almost impossible not to compare your baby to others. Ultimately I am not really worried at all about his development.d I only will be if he goes an extended period behind the "norm" for reaching a particular milestone and I feel the need to consult with my doctor. I just have these little twinges of....well...not worry or concern really - but I feel something, not sure what to call it. I guess I just don't want him to be different in a way that is behind where he should be.
- Relax. Ah yes, I'm going to say it. Every baby is different, so try to remember this when you feel a twinge of something.
- Celebrate others! Be truly happy for another child's progress and keep your uncertainties about your own child to yourself, at least initially, unless they become something to really be concerned about. Don't rain on anyones parade! Think of how happy you are when you child does something, it isn't nice to hear a worry from another parent stealing your thunder - at least not right away.
- Be supportive and don't gloat. Help each other out when your children are struggling. Take time to listen and offer suggestions. We're all in the same boat! It isn't nice to constantly relay that your child is doing something that another parent's child cannot do yet.
- Try to balance. This one is tough - trying not to under-react (?) or overreact when a child hasn't reached a milestone. Selecting that exact moment when you really should be concerned about something is the balancing act that we try to do all the time. Like I have said before - trust your instincts, you will figure it out!