It seems competitiveness doesn't just describe professional working folks and their ambition but maybe even moms and their babies! Do babies care if the baby next to them is 2 inches taller even though they are a month younger than them? Do babies talk about how many teeth they have growing and if it's weird that they're coming out in singles rather than pairs? What about formula vs breastfed, cloth diapers vs disposables, homemade baby food vs jar/can/package/store-bought food, baby-wearing vs stroller, co-sleeping vs crib and tons of other things?! I highly doubt my 18 month old Kiggster cares a smidgen if Baby X, Y, or Z is eating their broccoli, pooping in the potty, talking up a storm, walking like a pro, or has a full head of Pantene commercial-worthy hair!
I actually don't even think Dads care about those things either, at least Honey doesn't! If he takes notice of something about another baby, it's usually out of concern for Kiggster, like Baby X weighs that much and is same age, height, etc as Kiggster, should we be worried about her nutrition and then he goes out and buys vitamins for her. However, me on the other hand, I get pretty "competitive" or sometimes just feeling guilty! I don't do it on purpose but sometimes I just feel it in my bones, gut, heart…everywhere that just tells me I have to get my competitive spirit on. When other Moms start talking about their baby's milestones, I know in my mind that it's because they're proud of their baby and happy to share what's going on. However, emotionally and in my heart, I can start feeling like they are telling me that I'm not a good mother and I'm doing a horrible job so I have to find ways to defend myself or "block the punches" is how I really feel.
I know other moms that seem to also have this "competitive spirit" or "mommy guilt" too because when I talk about something that Kiggster is doing, I notice their comments can be more on the defensive side. This is not just with new moms but also with moms of older kids and even moms of the previous generations! Moms with kids around the same age can compare directly what milestones their child is hitting compared to another. Then moms with older kids, some can still be competitive or feel guilty when they talk about how their child didn't walk or talk until late or how they didn't do a certain thing (insert cloth diapering, homemade baby food, sign language, or other activity) with them when they were younger, etc. Then with the previous generations, I get this from Kiggster's grandparents, great-grandparents and others too, how if I make a certain decision or choice that was different than theirs, they feel like I am telling them that they raised their children (myself, Honey or others) wrong. In reality, all I am doing is just making a different choice, not wrong, right, better or worse, just Honey and I's personal choice for our unique child!
That's our unique child that likes to play piano with her pants half-way on because she can't wait!
Why is it that we can feel this way? I can feel so much guilt when someone tells me that they stayed home with their children and homeschooled them till they were 30! Ok, no one has said that but I can just feel so much guilt for not staying home with Kiggster and teaching her valuable life lessons. Then I can feel like I'm doing a horrible thing by not sleep training her (You can read about our last sleep training attempt here but it's actually gotten worse since then, a follow-up posting is due) and allowing her to co-sleep with us when other moms tell me how their child sleeps so much better and sleeps through the night now that they sleep in their own crib. I can even feel guilty about the kind of shoes I put Kiggster in because my MIL told me that Kiggster has been walking like a drunken sailor and it's because I'm putting her in horrible shoes with no ankle support! Honey and I think it's because she's learning to run (she's mastered the walking) and so she is walking funny because now running is another new skill to be learned. But now I have thoughts about how because I don't put her in Stride Rite or Buster Brown shoes, I'm going to do permanent damage to her and she'll never walk properly if I don't get her those new shoes! Then we hear ourselves and others telling our children, "why can't you eat/drink/walk/talk/be-as-smart-as Child X?!" Then our kids will learn from us to have that same competitiveness or maybe even have low self-esteem because they feel they can never live up to our standards.
But with all those feelings and emotions and thoughts running rampant in me, it really takes a lot to bring me back to my sanity. Honey is great at always bringing me back to God and scriptures. He reminds me that God chose me to be Kiggster's mom and I will be the best mom for her. That if I do everything out of love for God and our family, that will be enough and will be best. I love the following scripture, it's actually my all-time favorite:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand —
when I awake, I am still with you.
~Psalm 139: 13-18
I love that it tells me that when God made Kiggster he didn't spare even the smallest detail on her, from when she would hit her milestones, her style of walking, her health, her sleep patterns, how she would look, her love for water, her fascination with kittens and bubbles, and everything that makes her unique in this world. I couldn't have even asked for or imagined a more beautiful and amazing daughter. I have no need to compare or feel guilty and neither does any other mom out there. We have enough on our plates, we don't need the added pressure of guilt or competitiveness. Like I always like to say, One Size Doesn't Fit All, so why do we want all our kids to be exactly the same or even raise them exactly the same? No one method works for every child and our children shouldn't have to or be expected to fit into the same mold!
One size doesn't fit all!
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
God has every detail planned and laid out for us and our children so there is no need for us to anxious about things we cannot control! Let's also celebrate other children's milestones without feeling a tinge of guilt or competitiveness! So this Mother's Day and every day from this point forward, let's all make a conscious effort to just enjoy our children, whatever stage they are at and be comforted knowing that as long as our love for our family is what is driving us, then we are doing the best job ever as a Mom!