First of all, a HUGE thank you to Potty Mummy for naming me the British Mummy Bloggers’ Blogger of the Week – what an honour! Welcome to new folks joining the sleep deprivation party here at SIFTW (acronyms mean I’ve totally made it!) This does of course now put me under immense pressure now to come up with something vaguely entertaining for you all. Which no doubt means, according to the ‘rules’ that I will end up being dull and weird. Oh well. Popularity was nice while it lasted!
There seems to be a bit of a theme running through my blogging at the moment. First we had a post about my average accomplishments, then it was my average blog, and today, well, today I want to talk about average babies.
You see, now Kai has hit the big 1 the inevitable baby race seems to have taken on new and infuriatingly pervasive proportions. Of course, it’s always been something. Can he smile yet? Can he roll? Sit up? Stand on one leg while singing ‘I’m a little tea-pot’? (ok, not the last one. At least… not yet)
Right now it’s walking and talking. It’s all anyone seems to care about.
And as Kai is doing neither (apart from the odd random word and strange animal impersonation) nor, in fact, showing the slightest interest in doing so, I find myself once again the recipient of a multitude of wonderfully reassuring and self-affirming comments such as “Well, I’m sure he’ll get it EVENTUALLY *sympathetic look*”, and (my current favourite of the week) “It’s ok, some babies just have more ‘physical’ intelligence than others” (what does that even MEAN??! If you’re reading, person who said that – FOR SHAME!!)
I’ve talked about the infuriating affliction that is competitive mum syndrome before on here. It’s something I try very, very hard to avoid. Mostly because I think it’s a huge big pile of bull crap.
But I’m going to admit it. A teeny tiny part of me cries as I watch Kai’s peers confidently run around reciting the alphabet backwards while Kai himself sits in a corner randomly pointing and laughing at inanimate objects and trying to bark like a dog. I am forced to face the fact that, despite my best efforts at parenting, my child hasn’t been gifted with supernaturally advanced powers of development.
Yes Josie, it’s bad news I’m afraid. Your child is *gulp*… average.
Why does it bother us so much? Cause I know it’s not just me, I bet you, mummy readers, have all had such moments of fleeting disappointment and vague feelings of failure which seem to rise, unbidden into our minds, every time your child’s friend does yet another extraordinary thing.
Saying that, I think this is mostly a first-born thing. Parents with two or three, or even (as in the case of some friends) , five or SIX probably don’t give a damn at what age their child decides to do something, or what anyone else thinks about it, too busy as they are trying to end the day with as many children alive as when they started. So parents of multiples – you have permission to take a smug position of superiority here – no doubt you learned these lessons long ago.
Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes…
Common sense tells us that obviously the rate of our child’s development has nothing whatsoever to do with our relative merits or failures as parents, or is, in fact, any indication of their future intelligence or success but far more likely down to random genetics, personality and well, chance. Despite what the competitive mums seem to infer, the fact that my baby is not walking and talking at the grand old age of thirteen months old, does NOT mean he is destined to become that man that walks around our town with a robe made of a sacking, sandals, and a straw hat shouting at the pigeons.
So why do we take it all so personally? Why DOES it bother us, if only a little?
I think the reason it seems to strike a nerve is due, in part, to a journey that began back in our teenage years. When we were forced to come to terms with the fact that no, we probably weren’t going to be a model, and that we weren’t going to ‘grow into’ our noses and magically wake-up looking like Angelina Jolie. Or that we were going to randomly bump into Robbie Williams in Starbucks one day and, looking mysterious and alluring (as, of course, we would), and being given his skinny cappuccino with extra foam in a hilarious coffee shop- misundertanding, cause him to fall head over heels in love with us because we ‘got him’ and didn’t care about the fame thing.
I’ve STILL not quite got over that one.
And guess what. Our children probably aren’t going to be space men either, or prime minister, or nobel peace prize winners, or pirate ninjas, or a horse, or any of the of the things we ourselves dreamed of becoming as children. Unconciously we long for them to live extraordinary lives, the lives we did not lead, the lives we had to let go of.
Ok I’ll admit this is all sounding rather depressing in a kind of let me take your dreams and stamp all over them kind of way.
But the sooner we realise this as parents the better. The sooner we can let go of our need for our children to be so damn extraordinary, the sooner we are freed to see just how incredible they already are. Maybe if we can just stop worrying about the big stuff, the stupid milestones and the whole ‘my baby should’s, we’ll be less likley to miss all those teeny tiny subtle moments of everyday extraordinariness that our children show us just be being alive. Those moments that show us that sometimes it’s the ordinary and unremarkable that can be the most beautiful and precious of all.
Like eating mash potato with their hands. Or how watching a dog running round the garden can be the single most hilarious experience of their little life. Or they way their head seems to fit so perfectly nestled into your shoulder.
Not clever. Not exceptional. But just magic.
So let go Competititve Mums. Please. Because I can’t take this crap anymore.
Stop asking me if Kai’s walking yet and let us get back to rubbing mashed potato in our hair. Cause it’s ten million times more fun.