- When my other half told me that I was always comparing our daughter to other people’s children, I was mortified. Said child was only a few months old and the only humans I was conversing with were those at the baby and toddler groups, my new found antenatal friends and on rare occasions, close family members (the ones who are judging you on every tentative step into parenthood you take).
Apparently, so it transpired, every time a fellow mummy would mention something about their reflux-suffering son, or sleeping-like-an-angel daughter, I would have to pipe up with something similar about my own daughter.
The thing is, when I was engaging in these conversations, I wasn’t trying to compete. At least, I don’t think I was. I was merely trying to feel part of the group. I wanted to be the confident parent.
I most definitely cared about the trials and tribulations of my new friends and their new offspring. Just listening to their joking about the latest poo-disaster or the fact little James vomited over the lady in the supermarket made me smile and made me want to join in. If I had something to say in reply, I said it. I got nods of agreement or amazement, a little titter of laugher or a concerned look. If I could relate to what they were saying, I damn well made it known.
It made me feel good.
It made me feel accepted into the mummy clique that I so desperately wanted to be part of.
However, when I was accused of being a competitive parent, all my new found confidence suddenly drained. Was I really being a bit over-confident, a bit bolshy? Were those little nods from the others just politeness? Were they really thinking to themselves “here she goes again”? Did we not fit in with the group?
For a few days I pondered this, I tried to recall (and occasionally cringed at) the things I had said in conversation, things like the fact that my little girl could also start the jumperoo on her own and I’m sure she also had just muttered the word ‘Mama’. I didn’t always boast about her achievements, we had some horrid times too, but I needed to share my new life of parenting with other people. I didn’t think my daughter was any better than anyone else’s child, but I needed to feel like she and I were just as ‘normal’ as everyone else in the group.
After a few weeks of trying to make a conscious effort to not ‘compare’, I slipped gracefully back into the old habit. I decided that actually, these new parents were becoming my friends, they still listened to me, I hadn’t felt ostracised and most importantly of all, we were all going through the new-parent stage together.
I’m a proud (and slightly paranoid) parent, and I’m a talker. That is all there is to it. If I was comparing my daughter subconsciously then I apologise if it annoyed anyone. She is now 3 and I can safely say that we are still good friends with all those parents from the early days. We still get party and play-date invites at weekends and we’ve even been on holiday together!
Pipe-down Daddy-o, I wasn’t comparing, I was just joining in!