Kara Evans writers about the joys of parenting.
COLUMN — It’s difficult to go through life without competing at least once or twice in a battle of “one-upmanship.” Whether you’re trying to outdo your neighbour for the greenest grass on the block or attempting to best your brother in being the better child, there’s always some kind of competition going on.
The funny thing is that more often than not, these little competitions are one-sided. Unless you’ve shaken hands with the Johnsons next door and have agreed that the best lawn wins, the need to beat them will forever be just in your head.
These games couldn’t be any truer when it comes to being a parent, especially when a gaggle of women are all with child at the same time. Conversations soon become a little battle of who has the worst heartburn, or whose feet are the most puffy and swollen.
As women, we are constantly comparing ourselves with one another, whether announced aloud or not. If Betty-Sue, who is the same shape, build, and size as you goes through pregnancy with no stretch marks, it is most definitely the end of the world if those red lines of accomplishment appear on your abdomen. However, the comparison game does not end with our own bodies, it continues on once baby arrives and it only gets more heated.
The various milestones during those first couple of years are always something to cheer about, but of course, we cheer louder if our little one is the first of her peers to do it.
But what if your little Scarlett lags behind? Most things are out of your control, but it’s hard to remember that when Timmy is already walking and your little darling is still butt-scooching across the floor. When you witness your friend’s kids reaching every milestone at a rapid pace the desire for your own child to get there increases, creating that “Beat the Johnson’s” mentality that is anything but healthy.
Speaking from my own experience, there was definitely a green-eyed monster that made an appearance from time to time. While other babies were meeting those first milestones like cutting teeth, walking, and potty training, I couldn’t help but feel pressured to help her reach those moments sooner rather than later. My dear husband has had to remind me more than once that our daughter will get there when she’s ready to, and by golly, he was right.
The thing that most of us forget is that kids grow and learn at their own pace, and that most things are out of the parent’s control. Teeth appear when they’re ready to; your child isn’t going to go into kindergarten sporting a gummy smile, and as much as you can’t wait for your little love to start walking, the moment it happens you’ll regret it because it opens up a whole new world of chaos.
I suppose the lesson to be learned here is for parents to take a step back and remember that your child’s development is not an Olympic event. Your child is an individual the moment he or she is born and the only thing we can do is try not to push them to do something they’re not ready for. It’s tough, but always remember that the only thing that matters is that your child is Number One in your eyes.
Kara Evans tweets from @KaraEvs and blogs on http://www.shewriteswords.com.