Mom Always Liked You Best
My youngest son, Andrew is closing in on his 1st birthday in early January. Outside of it being a momentous event, full of a mouthful of cake, a mountain of gifts, and cameras flashing from the family paparazzi, I find myself already comparing him to his older brother. Most notably in mobility milestones, such as walking, crawling and rolling over. When he was five months old, he rolled from his tummy to his back. We all cheered, and I even have it on video. This remained his one and only trick for quite some time, until he learned how to sit up on his own at about 7 months. Then he learned how to eat a Cheerio on his own. Then he learned how to clap. And now we’re all waiting for him to crawl. And still waiting, and waiting…. I say I’m worried because I can’t help but stare at a picture of my older son, CJ when he was 9 months old: he is standing. He was most definitely crawling by that time, and it was with great celebration when he took his first steps at his 1st birthday party. We were all amazed and we were all proud. So now that Andrew is nearing that one year milestone, I can’t help but be a little inquisitive about his development. He’s starting to reach out of his radius, moving all the more closer on bended knee, and each day I think he’s going to jump closer to mobility on all fours, when all of the sudden his attempt gets foiled by landing on his tummy in defeat. And then he rolls over on his back and starts squirming like a turtle on his shell. My poor little pumpkin.
I am doing my best at not comparing my two sons. I know I am starting a long road of therapy by instigating this practice, but it is very hard for me to ignore. As mothers it is instinctual for us to worry about our children, and I think it is second nature to say that one child did something later or earlier than the other, especially when they are of the same gender. But will it stop? Will I let them be separate individuals, and separate of my own expectations? Medically speaking, there is no physical reason for his immobility. Although, our doctor has advised at his last check up that if he is not crawling by one year he will be concerned. I feel like I’m tricking my motherly instincts into thinking this is OK, this is normal, and that other babies are not crawling yet. I’ve been telling myself not to over-analyze, don’t get competitive with the mothers on and off-line over who’s kid does what first. I’m really tying hard. But the sore fact that I share DNA with my own aggressive, perfectionist, obsessive compulsive mother, hinders my ability to take a laid back approach. You know the mom, the one that says: “Great attempt at making your bed, honey, but here’s how it’s really done.”
Not only am I a perfectionist, but I am also obsessive compulsive. A few weeks ago my older son went into a tantrum because the way he painted was not “perfect”. I couldn’t help but look at myself in the mirror and say, “Well, you’ve done it, Kate. You have become your mother.” So all this business about Andrew not crawling, it’s deep-seeded. These are generations of child-rearing coming out in all of us. It goes beyond me pinning my sons against each other. This is beyond the surface. It requires a moment for me to think about everything that I say to avoid the knee jerk response that so many before me have done. And that is tiring on some days. But it’s my attempt at breaking the cycle. But more importantly, am I able?