Like most new moms, I’m sometimes insecure about my mothering skills. Therefore, I find myself clinging to child development milestones as lifelines in the sea of uncertainty that is new motherhood. However, it would seem that instead of lifelines, these seemingly objective data tend to act more as Mafioso-style cement shoes, drowning my spirit and submarining my attempts at making mommy friends.
I’m still new to Orange County, but I have managed to meet a few people and the whole friend of a friend chain begins. But in my efforts to find mommy friends for playdates and such, I feel like I’m constantly on the defensive about my baby and his development with these perfect strangers: “Does Rocco have any teeth?” “Is Rocco crawling?” “Does Rocco sleep through the night?” and “What percentage of height and weight is he?”
I blame myself in part. I mean, I do ask friends with older children when their kids met certain milestones. But, I can’t help but compare, I have this overwhelming need to know how well I’m doing. I only ask because I’ve never had a child before and really haven’t spent much time around babies. I want to know what is ‘normal’ and what to expect, which, in essence, means I’m comparing.
The other day, I met a new mom whose son was literally 5 days younger than Rocco, and the competitive juices started flowing. Her son had a few teeth, had a smooth and agile crawl and could pull himself up already. While Rocco, and his Spartan, yet effective army crawl, was a relative shrimp next to her giant of a son.
You get the point. I felt insecure and deficient since her son was ‘beating’ Rocco on all of those other measures.
That night, my husband and I discussed it and he helped in his own special way. Being skilled in the dark art of trash talk, he helped me see that the other little guy wasn’t as perfect as I made him out to be. But then, more constructively, helped to bring me closer to the fact that it does me no good to compare my son to anyone. It hurts my self-esteem, makes me feel like I need to defend Rocco and if it continues, could hurt his self-esteem too. Since then, I’ve realized I can find all the objective data I need with a web search.
It’s tough to know whether I’m doing this mother thing right, but I know my husband thinks I’m doing a great job, Rocco seems happy and healthy, and I know, if all else fails, trash talking other kids gives me temporary relief. I’m joking…kind of.