My husband’s coworker’s daughter who is my daughter’s age and signs for “more cheese” at the dinner table.
My friend’s grandchild who was crawling at five months.
All of the babies of the mamas I’ve befriended in the past year with six teeth at six months, with strings of consonants on their tongues, who clap, who blow kisses, who pull up and cruise and file the taxes, too.
I’ve written before about my firm belief that meeting developmental milestones isn’t a race, but it bears repeating. At the very least, I need to hear it again. The pressure to have an exceptional child is one I feel like I counter daily, and not just when I regret I haven’t anything to boast. I hear it in my husband’s voice when he says, “She hasn’t done anything new lately.” I feel it in my disappointment when she begins scooting forward and, flushed with excitement, I tell a good friend who is a parent of two and have confirmed for me that it’s not really crawling. And the worst part is, I feel a little less excited about it. Worst mama ever, that’s me.
I have to be honest and admit that I think part of my frustration is the feeling that we’re doing so many things right (which is not to say that anybody else is doing anything wrong, but “right” in terms of the choices we made for how we want to parent). My husband and I read to Miss E every day. She doesn’t watch television. We let her play freely on the floor and hardly ever with anything that has batteries. When we’re out, I almost always wear her and I try to keep her out of most containment devices that aren’t her car seat.
But she’s not an early talker. Her gross motor skills are mostly in-line with what’s appropriate for her age. She doesn’t sleep through the night, and she certainly hasn’t figured out how to design formulas in Excel. We think she’s practically perfect in every way, so why do I get a little jolt of jealousy and anxiety when I’m reminded of the things she doesn’t yet do?
I don’t know.
Whatever my problem is, I know at least that it’s mine, and not my daughter’s. The first part of getting help is admitting you have a problem, right? So I’m going to look to my cooing, hooting, scooting girl who’s anything but average. Because really, I have an exceptional child. There’s no other baby quite like her, and I wouldn’t want her any other way.