We had such an interesting discussion at BellyTots Postnatal about why Mums compare. Compare milestones; sleep patterns; response to teething; and many more.....We agreed that we all do it (myself included) and that it could be good and bad.
Lots of the mums there spoke about how helpful it was in providing reassurance and understanding about whether something is normal for our babies and children, or whether it could need some outside help from a professional. Not many of us go into motherhood with a lot of experience of baby care; and no one can go into motherhood for the first time knowing how it will feel. Even if we are blessed with a lot of baby care skills, motherhood can feel very different to caring for someone else's baby. So it's a very new experience, a new phase in our lives, and we can feel vulnerable and unsure. Checking in with other Mums, we agreed, can bring reassurance that our experience is normal and it can bring lots of hints and tips from others that we can choose from to try in whatever we're experiencing.
Sometimes it's not helpful though. Lots of Mums spoke about how hard it can be if sharing and comparing is met with rigid views, and advice is given that feels forced on us; rather than being offered on a friendly 'this is what worked for me, but it might not work for you' basis. Even worse was when our own babies or children are pointed out as 'Oh, they're not doing that yet are they'! In our discussion, some Mums expressed how uncomfortable they could feel if another Mum seems to have it all sorted, have all the answers and expresses surprise at their struggles and challenges. We can spiral into a negative, self doubting place that is horrible to be in. We questioned whether anyone can truly have it all sorted?
Overall, the women in the class considered it normal, human nature to compare our babies and children, even comparing siblings to each other if we have more than one. We felt that where that comparison is to seek reassurance and share experiences it is really helpful. If unhelpful responses or contradictory views or advice are given; the mamas felt it best to remind themselves that their baby and journey are unique. As is so often the case in these discussions, we all agreed that listening to each other; sharing our experiences sensitively; and respecting different parenting choices, was key to ensuring that comparing stays helpful.
What's been your experience?