Having a baby and being a mother has involuntarily entered me in a competition game I had no idea about…
I’ve done a good job in my life at protecting myself in enjoying daily life goals, succeeding and working with others without having to outrun someone. I’ve never compared my skills.
Now, today, I’ve gotten into an uncontrollable spiral where I encounter competition on a daily basis and some days I have that feeling that I’m failing. I start getting anxious or feel less than capable, and it spirals into a toxic comparison that has presented for a lot of mothers in American culture. It started from the day I found out I was pregnant, to the day Oliver was born and hasn’t stopped. It’s not just about my “performance” but how my son is moving along in this world. How is he hitting his milestones and how am I managing it all? The truth is, we all learn at our own pace and mothers can do it all, indeed – just not all at once. So, I have to stick to what I believe in; which is a more laidback, meant to be, it is what is, not-everything-has-to-be-explained philosophy.
Here are some of the hurtful, not-so-thought-out questions that are asked regularly to new mothers that I believe can be very harmful. Motherhood is full of changes and can be a lonely process. We are aware of the changes or differences that we go through. What a mother chooses to discuss is really, ultimately, HER decision.
“How did you gain that much weight?!”
“You didn’t lose your baby weight yet?!”
“Don’t you think your baby has to be colic?!”
“Your baby only weighs THAT much?!”
“Your baby weighs THAT much?!”
“Your baby doesn’t drink formula?!”
“Your baby isn’t walking yet?!”
“Your baby doesn’t say 20 words yet?!”
#1 – LET’S SWITCH THE DIALOGUE
If I told you how many times I’ve gotten these absurd questions, you wouldn’t believe me or you’d just say that you’re going through the same thing. It looks like some moms live to be better than other moms to quiet their own fears – which just creates more fear in other moms who are just going about their business. However, there is a real lack of support for mothers and it is understandable.
Pregnancy, children, parenting skills, weight loss, kids’ milestones…are personal. They are achievements in people’s daily lives that are so different from one another that they are not comparable. In some countries, asking these kinds of questions is the most impolite thing you can do. So let’s switch conversations: let’s ask moms how THEY are doing, feeling and how their child is feeling. Allow any dialogue to come from it, organically.
#2 – KNOW IT ALL
There are also the “know it all people” who constantly judge you but have no idea what you’re going through, and this doesn’t just apply to motherhood *side eye*. It’s a form of laziness to speak about someone’s life thinking you know about the subject at hand, but in reality, you’ve never experienced it. Some people are better than others at putting themselves in your shoes…while others assume it wouldn’t happen to them.
#3 – YOU DO YOU, MAMA
What’s most important is knowing what you do for yourself and your kids. Trusting your gut feeling. Don’t let anyone make you feel like something is wrong with you or your child unless you know in your heart something is not right. If something is not right, that’s how life can be and you shouldn’t feel ashamed because you’re dealing with something “different” and I don’t even like that word, because it still creates a separation between all of us. We should be kind and understanding. Helpful and loyal. Calm and present. Listeners and honest.
#4 – RESOURCES
The greatest advice I’ve been offered is that we today have access to classes, specialists, tutors and more to enrich our child’s education. As new parents-to-be, we also have access to classes, books, blogs and more. There are resources for each milestone, even if you live in a smaller city, it’s approachable and if it’s not, maybe you could think of something to create that in your community! There’s nothing better than enriching yourself with knowledge. Parenting can ask for a lot of it, which is why I did my own research, read a lot of books and kept what served me and left behind what didn’t. Having educational, loving conversations can turn into valuable resources for everyone.
My point is there’s no race or actual competition that is part of our reality when it comes to kids or parenting – if you love competition so much, stop sitting around asking questions and go be an athlete. Lately, I’ve really asked myself, what are my actions that will matter the most or be the most memorable/helpful? Being a good person and a good parent is what matters. Being present and at service.
I’m basically writing this post to encourage mothers and others to trust their paths and if some people make little things look like problems that don’t belong to you, let it go. I have days where I feel affected and all of a sudden I wonder: “why is my son not walking at 14 months?!” And then I realize…who cares!!!!! He’ll walk….when he’s ready! And that’s just the way it is.
We all have our own stories and different paces. It shouldn’t be hard to accept that, but apparently, it’s rocket science for some people. 😉