I was at story time at the public library a few days ago, and the Library Lady asked the kids what sound a kitty makes. I laughed to myself, as the room was filled with babies who were either drooling, pulling their mother's hair, or both (like my kid) when an adorable, crystal clear baby voice sang out "meow!" We all laughed, but not in a "your kid's so cute" kind of way. It was an "oh my gosh, someone else's kid can do something that mine can't, clearly my child has a learning disability/horrible side effect from all her vaccines" kind of way. The voice belonged to Sally (name changed to protect the innocent), a small, bald 18 month old who could walk, talk in complete sentences, and make the rest of us moms of ordinary babies very uncomfortable.
Why is it that mothers are insanely competitive? It's bad enough during pregnancy. I remember shopping for maternity clothes and seeing other pregnant women, and quickly assessing how I looked compared to them. Although, to my credit, I was convinced that I looked much better than I actually did, so I usually came out on top. (That's what she said.) If the other shopper was smaller than me, I decided that clearly she was not as far along as I was or that her baby was surely much smaller (imagine my surprise when Captain Destructo came out at 7 pounds, and not 35 1/2 as I thought based on the amount of weight I had gained). When the babies are born, the competition takes on a whole new dimension. We try to pretend that we don't care that our kids are not as advanced as others. I know I said "it's no big deal, she'll develop at her own pace" multiple times to people when trying to explain why Captain Destructo wasn't rolling over at 6 months, when in actually at home I was googling "average time to roll over in infants" and forcing the poor child to spend all her time on her tummy. People tried to calm my fears by saying super helpful things like "it takes bigger babies longer to roll over." So now she's fat and slow? Thanks.
The other thing mothers do is attempt to justify why other kids can do things that ours can't. I know I am guilty of this. When I first heard Sally reciting soliloquies at story time, I leaned over and said to her mother "Sally's a great talker! Does she have older brothers and sisters?"
"She has a 12 year old sister," her mother explained. "Does M?"
"No, she's our first," I replied, while thinking "ah-ha! That 12 year old sister must spend all her time teaching Sally to talk."
I wonder if babies go through this. Are we born with an innate desire to be the best? Does Captain Destructo walk around thinking "hey, that other baby can make the noise for the cow and I can't. I must prove my superiority." Or, "is it me or is her butt much smaller that mine in that diaper?" (This is my fault-we cloth diaper and her booty is huge in her diapers.) For her sake I hope not. I guess all I can do is continue to build her self-esteem by teaching her new cute tricks on a regular basis and showing off as much as possible.
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