My baby is a late teether. He cut his first tooth when he was ten-months old, on the last day of our trip to South Africa. The other one followed two weeks later. He is a year and two weeks now but still no sign of the other teeth. Which means no biting his food. Which means he eats soft, mashed food. Which means limited food options and hence more work for yours truly. Also, sleepless nights when all he wants is comfort nursing. Result? Backache in the morning.
It’s amazing how babies and their milestones matter so much. They mean so very much to the mom and those around her. When in fact, it’s really such a trivial matter. It’s like there is this invisible Checklist for Motherhood Success. Baby:
- Is exclusively breastfed
- Is fed healthy, organic home cooked meals from amongst all the food groups
- Has sprouted forts tooth at four months
- Has at least six teeth by his first birthday
- Sleeps through the night since he was six weeks old
- Eats himself and drinks water and milk from a glass without spilling
- Never put pacifier or bottle to mouth
- Communicates effectively with a few words
- Is walking unaided by eleven months
- Is very sociable and friendly, not shy at all, shares his toys and has no separation anxiety
- Weighs ‘x’ kg by ‘x’ months
- Is potty-trained by 18 months (!!)
This is ALL the matters. What does not matter is baby’s happiness. Whether he is loved and has a sense of security. Whether he is encouraged in the little effort he makes or if there is warmth and affection around him.
I have known MANY a mother who has crumbled under the weight of these judgments. Where strangers ask these questions and make comments about how your baby has fallen short in some way or the other. As long as baby is healthy and happy, do these things really matter? He will get there eventually, what really is the rush? Are these things more important than the mother’s and baby’s self esteem and the quality of time they spend together? When did we let something as pristine as motherhood get tainted by something as crude as societal expectations and judgments of others. These things do matter to the voice in your head that tells you you have fallen short in some way. It’s not always easy to say ‘shove it’ to the next person who is issuing free unwanted advice. But if you let these comments/remarks/suggestions get the better of you, remember you are succumbing to them and letting that voice in your head win. It’s about you and your baby. You are your baby’s comfort, safe place, security, first love, everything that is right and beautiful. Your child can sense your stress and insecurity. He sees you crumble under the weight of it all. You can’t let them win, for his sake you can’t. Tongues will wag, they always have. Naysayers will shake their heads, they always have. You have to be impervious. You have to be his brick wall against all the shit in the world. And you have to start now.