Whenever two or more mothers get together the conversation inevitably turns into a child growth and development comparison and bragging session. It starts from the moment children are conceived. Mothers discuss and compare their pregnancies, births, and children’s development. They often determine their own maternal successes and failures based on these discussions. There is not only an unofficial competition that goes on, but also a way to determine normalcy. These conversations can result in some good advice, suggestions, and reassurances, or feelings of failure or being insufficient.
From the time a woman finds out she is pregnant her concern is for the health and safety of her child. Every decision she makes, from the things she eats to the activities she participates in, are based on what is best for her child. Once the pregnancy is made public the unsolicited advice, and pregnancy and labor and delivery stories, can at times be overwhelming and disheartening. Regardless of how horrible some of the stories are, there is inevitably the mother who was in labor for a week, without any pain meds, and suffered almost every complication and hospital mishap imaginable, and then, on the brink if death, delivered her own perfect ten pound baby while her husband ran to get the doctor and nurses! She is unanimously named the “comparison game” winner.
Once the baby is born, the game changes from who had the most horrific experience to whose child is the easiest and develops the fastest. Moms like to brag about how wonderful and smart their children are. If a group of moms are discussing their children’s developmental progress or achievements, there is predictably one mom that feels the need to one-up everyone. You know the one whose little Johnny has been sleeping through the night since he was a week old, never spit up or got gassy, started rolling over at two months, crawling at four months, took his first steps at six months, and now, at twelve months, is potty trained, speaking in complete sentences and can count to 100!
Overachievers aside, most regular moms actually enjoy a bit of healthy competition and comparison regarding their children. It can make them feel good about how well they are doing as a parent and how good their child is doing. It can help to determine the normal growth and development they might expect to see in their children. This type of conversation can also assist in recognizing delayed developmental issues.
If one mother’s two-and-a-half-year-old is speaking clearly and with a good size vocabulary, other mothers might compliment her and compare how their children’s verbal abilities were/are at that age, and for those with delayed development, possibly recognize and explore ways to help improve their child’s verbal skills.
Another great benefit to these informational exchanges is the help, encouragement, and support that can be gained when an issue arises. A mother can feel safe in seeking the advice of other mothers on how to deal with what’s going on. If little Susie is having problems with potty training after several months her mother will welcome suggestions on what else to try. Or if little Bobby has started having very disrespectful and destructive behavior at school, his mommy might ask for creative ideas to help deal with it.
With minor medical issues, these conversations can be similar to a second opinion that either solidifies the advice of the pediatrician or raises questions or possibilities not yet considered or discussed. There are even times when a mother will consult her fellow mothers before the doctor. Moms share experiences, support, advice, and proven over-the-counter or home remedies.
After all the things motherhood entails, a woman needs, and deserves, a place to brag, vent, and talk; a place where she can seek and give advice, give and get encouragement, be understood, and feel like she is not alone. What better place than with other women who are going or have gone through similar experiences?