Musings On Development (Or, How I’ve Become Even More Of A Neurotic Bag Of Crazy Than Usual)

I’ve written all about how wonderful my baby is; the amazing disposition, the sleeping, the babbling, whatever.

He’s wonderful, he’s doing great. But I am fighting hard to ward off the crazy.
Because, when it comes to baby’s development, I’m a neurotic mess. You can tell me every baby develops at their own pace until you’re blue in the face. I will agree with you, but secretly assume you must really see something wrong with my baby for you to be coddling me this way.

I know how ridiculous I am, but I can’t stop. I sometimes wish he could just magically skip to age 3. The articles I read when I google my worries say they all catch up by 3.
3…3…that’s the ticket. But I imagine all the fun stages I’d miss! And even if I could overlook all the fun stuff I’d miss, there will be a never-ending list of milestones to come and pressures to worry about!

It’s impossible not to compare my baby to others. Impossible. Even though he was one of the younger ones in baby class last semester (ridiculous, I know), I still compared. And if stay-at-home-motherhood is my JOB, then isn’t baby’s prowess in all areas of development a reflection of ME? When other mothers brag tell me about what their babies can do, they certainly seem pretty proud. And they should be! But, like most aspects of suburban motherhood, it feels like a competition. We’re all eager to offer training tips (“Try propping him up in front of a Boppy pillow!” “Try putting a toy he wants out of reach!”), but it doesn’t matter, because EVERY BABY DEVELOPS AT THEIR OWN PACE.

I can sing the “peek-a-boo” song until my vocal cords bleed. Baby isn’t going to put his hands over his own eyes until he is good and ready.

I can sit baby up in front of the Boppy or in this awesome chair toy all the live long day. He’s not going to sit independently, reliably, until he realizes how fun sitting is and stops trying to lie down!

I can put the greatest toys in the world on the floor just out of his reach for hours. (And I have been doing this. For MONTHS). He’s not going to creep or crawl toward them until he can.

I obsessively look at the age ranges for “normal” achievement of milestones in my treasured copy of Baby 411. And I start a mental countdown until the time I am “allowed” to be worried for each milestone.

Right now I am obsessed with sitting. He’s been sort of sitting up for a little over a month. The “normal” range is 5-8 months. He’s getting better, but my head is still consumed by a loop of “you can start worrying at the end of next month! you can start worrying at the end of next month!” Because I’m not already worried? It never ends!

And I should have already learned my lesson from The Episode of The Leg Paranoia. The “normal” range for baby being able to bear weight on his legs is 3-7 months. But all the little 4 and 5 month girls in baby class were doing it like champs. And girls are supposed to be slower for gross motor skills. I started to worry. The pediatrician asked about it at baby’s 4 month appointment and I said he could sort of do it. The doctor tried it out as he was examining baby and baby’s legs collapsed like a deck of cards after 2 seconds. I was mortified, but the doctor didn’t seem too concerned. I was CONVINCED there was something wrong with his legs. I googled and googled and ended up in mommy forums where I read people write “give him some more practice and he’ll be fine.”

I gave him more practice, standing baby up on the changing table every time I changed him, in the crib before I picked him up, and on top of the Boppy while I was feeding him. I came up with a catchy Standing Song. Now baby LOVES to stand and can suport himself if we hold only his hands. I am starting to stand him up in his crib and in front of chairs and small tables to let him practice holding onto something other than my hands.

I really should’ve learned my lesson.

Sometimes I even find a way to worry about his great personality. Even if he’s upset you can make him laugh through his tears. But if I’m having a particularly hard time fighting my way out of Crazytown, I actually find myself wondering if his cheerful disposition is an indication of some sort of neurological problem.
Then my husband has to attempt to formulate a list of all the ways baby has been difficult in order to convince me that his veil of perfection is not going to disappear with a disastrous diagnosis of some sort. “He couldn’t latch on!” “We had to pay to get his tongue tie clipped and he still couldn’t nurse!” “He sometimes gets constipated!” “His neck is always rashy!” “He cries when he’s hungry!”

Really, though. I google “sixth month old baby not sitting” at least 4 times a day. At least. And this is with tremendous restraint.

We live in a pretty affluent suburb. Almost everyone I meet has a deeply ingrained “push push push” mentality that is hard to shake.

I am doing everything I can to foster his development right now. When he was a tiny little guy, I was convinced that all I want for him in life is to be happy.
At almost 7 months old, he still seems to be his happiest on his back, kicking his feet and rolling from side to side.

And so it begins. Do I let him play the way he wants to play? Or do I push him to develop his gross motor skills? I’ve read that in cultures that wear their babies, they stand before sitting up because they’re used to being held in that position.
Do I let him teach himself piano and play for the love of the sounds he makes? Or do I make him take lessons and have structured practice times?
Will I worry this much about every important new skill in life? Alphabet? Colors and shapes. Counting. The times tables! The list is growing.

He’s happy. He’s healthy. He’s well within the “normal” range of everything. The only things he was a little early for were teeth and babbling.

But how can I stop this craziness? Is this why people say parenthood is the death of your life? Because you spend all your time worrying?

Am I especially nuts, or am I just honest?

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2 thoughts on “Musings On Development (Or, How I’ve Become Even More Of A Neurotic Bag Of Crazy Than Usual)

  1. All of my mommy friends do this. =) One used to urge her baby to smile, because she was afraid of autism. The baby was a newborn! They don’t do much of anything, much less smile. Heck, my BiL didn’t speak a single word until well into his second year. He just burst out in complete sentences one day. He went to MIT, so I’m pretty sure he caught up just fine…

    Whatever you do to fix the paranoia, please fix it before my baby is born so you can teach me!

  2. Pingback: Musings On Development, Part 2: Talking and Not Walking | babiesandstuff

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