When I was a little girl I was a difficult child. I mean people remember me as a good nice girl, but that was after my brother came along. I was diagnosed with epilepsy at a very young age and much of my illness translated into me being a troublesome girl. I was adamant, known to throw angry fits and sported a vitriolic temper.
The doctors advised my parents against scolding me. They also asked them to never pressurise me to perform. “Let her be, the way she wants,” they said and my parents followed their advice to the T. They also said that a sibling in the family would calm me down, that I’d learn to share and care. They were right!
V turns 14 months today. This post isn’t about the need for a second child. Well, not yet! But it is about a very critical piece of learning that I have picked up from my parents. My parents never compared me with other children. Not in terms of academics, sports, extra-curricular activities, career or life’s choices. They let me choose, held me hand when I failed, motivated me when I was down and defended me for my choices. When I became a parent, I knew I had to follow this.
When I held V for the first time, I whispered into his ear: “I love you Baby. And I will always love you for who you are.”
But then soon I found myself falling into the inevitable parent trap of comparisons. My son was born with a clean pate. He had scanty hair. Coupled with long frail legs and arms, V looked like a featherless bird for a good one month. But that’s with all new-born babies, right? I was not bothered as much about his tiny frame, he’d put on weight, I assured myself. But his hair? When did it plan to grow? I waited patiently. Very patiently.
Visitors commented on his taklu status and I assured them that he’d get his hair very soon. But then… the hair refused to grow. I massaged his head. Used baby hair oil and waited patiently. It’ll come, it’ll come. I assured myself again. But then… I started noticing the hair on other babies’ heads. As I floated through the various baby pictures of my various friends’ on Facebook, I started taking stock of their kids’ hair. How much were they born with? How long was it now? And how long did it take for it grow? When I met mothers with infants and toddlers, both acquaintances and strangers, my first comment would be, “Oh! Look at that lovely hair!”
14 months later, I am still counting V’s hair. His hair has grown and it almost falls on his eyes now. But it’s yet to cover those gaps… No Comparisons… didn’t I say so?
“V’s daddy walked at 9 months,” said V’s Thammi (paternal grandmother). Hmmm… so when will V walk? I made a mental note of his father’s achievement. As someone who flipped on his tummy at 3 months, sat up at 6, crawled at 7, I was certain he’d walk soon. As it turned out V is too lazy to walk! “So is V walking?” ask polite relatives, “His 2 month younger cousin walked at 9 months!” Aaah! There I go again!
I am not a paranoid Mommy. At least I like to think of myself that way. But then when V walked 4 steps this morning I knew he was trying.
As parents there are so many things that we want our kids to do. Not as much for themselves as much for us! As an adult I know what comparison does to one’s mind. He has a big car, I need one too. She has such a lovely house, I want too. Look at her perfect body, I wish I was thin too! While aspirations are good, and competition healthy to a certain limit, comparisons, I am afraid are detrimental. I have had friends whose parents pushed them into Engineering and then Management Studies because they wanted to tell their friends what their kids were studying! I know people who worked so hard to beat the rat race that they lost so much in their personal lives!
I am sure I don’t want my child to go through comparisons induced by his parents. And so while he is yet to talk, I am holding myself back. Every time my mind makes that comparison, I have learnt to tell myself, “Let him be… he’ll get there.”
A former TV junkie & workaholic – turned – stay-at-home-mother – recently turned work-at-home – mother Rituparna Ghosh loves herself as @VeesMother (my twitter identity as a parent). Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.wordpress.com/