Choosing Presence Instead Of Comparison

Choosing Presence Instead Of Comparison.jpg

By Becky Houdesheldt

This morning, as my son was entertaining himself in the living room while I made a quick cup of coffee, I thought to myself, maybe he’s behind. Maybe he’s not being challenged enough at home. My friends who have babies around the same age are crawling, or sitting without any assistance at all, or making clearly articulated sounds. Maybe I’m doing something wrong.

How often I have felt this way the past 19 months. I say this because my whole pregnancy I doubted myself, the actions I took, the way I handled everything. I gained too much weight. I didn’t read enough. I didn’t go to enough classes. And now that Carson is here, my doubts have shifted. I still worry about myself, I haven’t lost any weight post pregnancy, I don’t feel like I look or behave like other moms.

Still, my worries for my son have taken precedence. I worry about his development, his diet, his nap times, his overnight sleeping. His vocabulary. His weight.  I’m comparing myself to the mothers around me, and my son to the babies around me, and in scrutinizing the differences and the perceived shortcomings, I’m robbing myself of the enjoyment of watching my baby gain strengths he wants to focus on.

I’ve placed these expectations on him, and myself, based on my perception of what I think we should be, and I’ve realized how incredibly unfair that is. To both of us. Ultimately, my son’s development is his own. Feeling less than because Carson isn’t doing something that another baby is, is a complete waste of time. My focus should be on celebrating everything he’s doing right now, that he wasn’t doing three months ago, three weeks ago even!

At my desk on Friday, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of loss at what I miss out on with him when he’s at daycare. I teared up and felt like I couldn’t be a good mother because I was not around for him during the day. Add meetings at least 3 nights a week, and a 7pm bedtime, and our time is limited. I felt that mom guilt. Heavily. It weighed on me all afternoon. Then my dad gave me the advice I knew he would. He told me he went through the same thing when we were little, and to be present in every moment I do get with him. Not even two days later and there I was, worrying.

Carson was very quiet in the living room, and I peeked my head around the corner to see him holding a rattle that he’s had for months, inspecting it, talking to it, happy. Content. Peaceful.

He is teething and was fussy most of the weekend. It was a challenge to keep him happy. I warmed up the same cup of coffee three times – I was a very tired momma. But I remembered my dad’s words. I carried my coffee to the living room, set it down without taking a drink, and laid on the floor with my baby.

Soon he’ll crawl, then he’ll walk, he’ll talk, and with every new thing he does, I’ll think back on when he was younger. When that happens, I want to be able to say I was present in every moment. Even when he fussed and needed to be held. Even when he wouldn’t nap. Even when I was tired, or impatient, or lonely.

There is a freedom in deciding to stop comparing our journey to those around us. Carson is a smart engaged, happy baby. He will learn everything in his own time. He’ll know he’s loved. And that’s really the most important thing to me today. For him to know, without a doubt, that he is loved.

Becky is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.

{featured image via unsplash}

4 thoughts on “Choosing Presence Instead Of Comparison

  1. bethanyk says:

    My best friend and I had our children 4 days apart. My daughter was walking at 10 months old. Potty trained at 18 months old. Talking at 1 year old. Her son did not move or talk until he was 2. Was not potty trained until he was 3. They are both 21 years old now. They are both exactly the same. Where one was “behind” the other excelled all through their childhood years from fine motor to large motor skills to eating to athletics to grades. They are both the same now in most ways. Obviously they are each unique. But their life is always so cool to look back on when I hear mothers worried about “milestones” that seem to be written in stone and if I learned anything in my degree in childhood development it was that each child was different and may not follow the same path of development and that is ok.
    I love that you decided to just be present.
    I am a worrier. I always worried. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between worry and intuition. It took me a long time to tell the difference because I always seem to be on mommy alert even though she is 21 now! She says ” I have stomach pain” I think OH NO ITS THE APPENDIX.

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  2. kristinmoras says:

    Mom guilt is so real… I remember I used to worry so much that I was missing out or that my son wouldn’t feel loved or have a connection with me when I went back to work. Eventually, I left my job to be a SAHM when he was 9 months old. Only, then I started to worry that my being with him all day wasn’t enough to challenge him developmentally or that I might be holding him back socially because he wasn’t in some sort of daycare program. No matter what I think we moms will question every little thing about our parenting journey. I’m learning that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a common side effect of the intense love we feel for our children.

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