Holly is fast approaching four months and things are changing and developing rapidly at this stage. Holly has recently discovered her hands and that is somewhat of a blessing as she has also started to teethe...yet it isn't just Holly that has changed, it seems our parent friends have changed too...
I remember when Holly was a newborn, all our friends who already have kids (mostly toddlers) flocked to our house in droves to coo over our beautiful little baby. They were in awe of our beautiful bundle and had nothing but praise and complements to offer. Now it seems the tide is turning. When they visit or we arrange to meet the things they say are very different. Some of the comments so far have been along the lines of:
"What age is Holly now? 3 months? Oh... I'm sure my baby was doing X, Y and Z at that age...isn't Holly doing that yet?"
"She is doing that already? She is a bit young for that isn't she? Ours didn't do that until much older, are you sure?"
"Haven't you bought this toy/equipment/clothing yet? I can't imagine my little having to go without that."
"Oh you shop for baby things there? I only buy my baby things in (insert suitable expensive shop name here)...."
Well excuse my child for not living up to your expectations (or me for not living up to your parenting standard either)! Don't get me wrong, it is perfectly natural and understandable to be proud of your child and their achievements, but I hardly think giving other parents back-handed comments about developmental milestones or their baby purchases falls into that category!
Firstly, all babies develop at different stages so why make comments to new parents that may make them think their child isn't developing at the "normal" rate? For first time parents especially it could cause them a lot of unnecessary worry. Or is boasting about your child's superior intelligence helpful? I'm all for encouraging your child to learn, but I would never want my child to believe that I would not love them just the same if they weren't smart enough!
Secondly, you may like to buy your child every toy/gadget/gizmo/clothing item under the sun, with no expense spared but that is your choice. Not all parents can afford these things, or may believe (as I do) material possessions are not the most important thing in life. Yes I want the best for my child, but I don't believe that comes in the form of the newest or flashiest pram, toy or clothing. The best thing for my child is good, quality time with people who love her, stimulate her and encourage her. Besides that, when my child is older I want to teach her the value of things and the benefits of hard work. If I constantly buy her all the latest bits and bobs she will never learn that you have to work hard to get the things you want in life.
I am sure our friends don't mean to sound so judgemental or condescending. They are simply proud parents who want the best for their children, as I'm sure all parents do. They just don't hold the same beliefs as me as to what constitutes a good childhood or a good parent. Seeing the way these people behave has reinforced my belief in the values I want my child to learn in life, and more confident of the choices I'm making for her. I try to let the comments they make about my child go over my head, as it shows me that I'm not like them as a parent (which is fine by me), as I wouldn't want to be anyway.
I have started to wonder how these people, who I had so much in common with before we all had children are so different to me now? It seems having a child really does change everything. Will I stop being friends with them as a result? No! Variety is the spice of life, and diversity makes life interesting. I'm sure in years to come we might have some little run ins over our views but who agrees on everything anyway!?