Tuesday 4 September 2012


All babies are different. No two babies are ever the same, even identical twins are not actually exactly the same. Babies, like adults, come in all shapes and sizes. Babies develop at their own rates. Some babies will weigh less than their peers; this isn’t necessarily anything to worry about. Some babies will outgrow their clothes quickly, this doesn’t mean they are going to grow into giants. Some babies will walk at seven months, others might not say their first word until they are two years old.

You must accept your baby on their own terms. Do not constantly judge them against their peers. Do not worry that your baby doesn’t conform to the babies you have read about in parenting books. All babies are different, and you know your baby best.
I don’t compare Ebony to other babies, although it can be hard when your mind subconsciously makes comparisons during play dates. I have noticed that Ebony’s baby friends all seem to master skills around the same time, although some may get there quicker and others may need more practise, but eventually they all end up at the same stage so there is no point worrying.
There is a Mum at baby group, who constantly questions me about Ebony’s development. Her daughter must be a couple of weeks younger than Ebony. When Ebony sat up during baby group, the Mum glared at her for five minutes before asking how long she had been able to do that. I told her she had been trying for a month, and the Mum looked like she might cry. She then gave her baby dagger eyes.
I imagine that her poor daughter was then put through a strict training regime until she was able to finally sit up. A boot camp for babies, if you will. Every time Ebony develops a new skill, the Mum glares and ask how long she has been able to do this. I have started to answer with a lie: “Just this week.” in the hope it will spare her baby at least a few weeks of boot camp.
I don’t understand these intense Mums who are so desperate for their babies to be developing skills at the same time as or, even better, before their peers. Babies learn to sit up, it may take some longer than others, but they all do it. They need to develop the muscle tone before they can do it, and they will be working on this without you realising, so you really don’t need to try and force them into doing it sooner.
Competitive Mums seems to be prevalent in baby groups, and I hate them. It makes me feel bad for their babies. These amazing babies are putting all over their energy into growing and developing, and when they master a skill  they must feel very proud. I know that Ebony always shrieks with excitement the first few times she manages something new, and I enjoy sharing in that experience with her. I would hate to be the baby who looks up at their mother for recognition of the amazing development milestone they have just conquered, only to be sniffed at: “Hmmm, Rosie did that a whole week ago. Not good enough. Try harder.”
I feel sad for their babies, but not really. Because mostly I only care about Ebony now, all the rest of you are tiny dots of insignificance in my now Ebony filled heart. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
The worst kind of competitive Mum is the one who implies that it is your baby who is weird. These kind of Mums are very close to getting punched in the face by me. A kind of vigilante to prevent competitive Mums spreading their hateful baby judging ways.
Ebony is a normal baby. Scratch that, she’s awesome. But, basically she’s the same as everyone else. She isn’t a giant or a borrower, she’s not a sumo wrestler but she wouldn’t blow away in a light breeze. She’s average. She does have a particularly large head, but this she inherited from her heavy headed father so it cannot be helped. Also, the size of her head is hard to judge due to the number of times she bangs it these days, I have no idea what is skull and what is swelling. Head size apart though, she’s no different to all her friends.
[NB, I use the term friends loosely here by the way, don’t worry competitive Mums, your child is not lagging behind by not acquiring friends by eight months. Ebony has no friends, I have friends and I force her to “parallel play” with their babies, because otherwise I would literally have no adult conversation ever.]
We attend a baby group on Mondays, and we pay quite a bit to be there. As you can imagine, this means most of the Mums are the type of people who regularly use the term ‘yummy mummies’. These Mums have probably already spotted Oxbridge potential in their babies. Seriously.
There are a lot of competitive Mums at this group. Ebony is one of the oldest babies, and so she is more mobile than most of the babies. As she crawls around the room, competitive Mums glare at her, then during the break I am asked repeatedly how old she was when she learnt to crawl. Yawn. These Mums are boring, but at least they’re not mean.
Unlike the Mum encountered yesterday.
Mean Mum: How old is she?
Me: She’ll be eight months next week.
I cannot really explain the facial expression this Mum pulled, because I am not that good with words. But if you imagine a flatulent drunk donkey having a stroke, you’re probably close to the real thing.
Me: Sorry? 
Mean Mum: Don’t you think she’s small???
Now imagine that same donkey, but with a painfully smug expression on his hairy face.
Me: Erm, no.
Now, I didn’t see it, but the facial expression I tried to achieve here can best be described as a beautiful unicorn turning down the advances of drunk donkey with a look of pity and (using only my eyebrows) an acknowledgement that the donkey was, rather pathetically, attempting to seduce above his station.
Competimums, I don’t really care if you make your own babies feel like crap because they cannot live up to your skyscrapers of expectations, but don’t start judging my baby. Why on earth would you say that my baby was small, even if you thought it?
And also, while we’re on subject, she is not small. The next growth spurt isn’t due for another month, if babies continued to grow at the rate they do when they are first born then we would all be giants. And, even if she was small, what business is that of yours? And why question me about it? Maybe her father is teeny tiny, maybe that is why she is so slight. Maybe she has had problems with her weight and it is an issue that has already caused me countless sleepless nights and maybe I don’t need to be reminded of it. She could have been born early and is still catching up with her peers. It could really be down to any number of issues, or non-issues, none of which would be your business.
And, quite frankly, maybe your baby is just MASSIVE.

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