Comparing My Children

Everyone says, Don’t compare your children. No two children are alike. Every baby develops at their own pace. When dealing with babies who are premature, you must consider their gestational age in terms of developmental milestones. Don’t worry so much.

I know all this. Honestly, I do. But I also don’t know a single parent who hasn’t compared—either their child to another child or their child to that child’s sibling. We may not talk about it, admit to it, but we do.

My boys will be 10 months old Saturday. They’ve been eating solid food for about a month now, and just recently we introduced Puffs. I can pour a small handful of Puff’s on Owen’s tray and, as long as I watch him closely, he typically does OK feeding them to himself. James, on the other hand, has given us a few scares. So we feed him broken-in-half Puffs, one at a time.

I can’t imagine the boys eating birthday cake when they turn 1, in two months. At their 9-month-appointment the nurse practitioner assured as that they would.

I began thinking about Sophie and her eating habits. To be fair, she wasn’t premature. And she hated baby food (whereas the boys love it). Still, just for fun (OK, OK, to compare) I looked back to the day Sophie turned 10 months old. She was eating spaghetti.

I looked some more.

At 9-1/2 months, she was cruising.

At 10-1/2 months, she was reading. (OK, not really, but she was standing and pulling books off her bookshelf and making considerable messes for me to clean up.)

Owen gets around pretty well now, but he moves like an inch worm—he’s yet to crawl on his hands and knees. James is following in Owen’s footsteps, but gives up (or becomes content with some other activity) sooner. They can both sit, unassisted, but only for very short periods of time. And they have yet to get themselves in a sitting position.

No one’s concerned. Continued physical therapy and exercises at home have been recommended (by both their physical therapist and pediatrician) and that’s all. This is normal, everyone says. By the time they’re 2, they’ll be caught up. It’s best not to compare.

But I do.

And then I think back to last night. My parents were visiting and my mom was holding Owen, who was content to be held. She commented on his baby-ness, how nice it is that he still likes to be held—most 10 months olds don’t. I remember a friend saying the same thing about her twins, who were born early. She worried about them being behind but loved that they were so baby-like for so long. And there’s something to be said for that. Because, in the scheme of things, they’re only babies for such a short period of time.

And then I think back to the spaghetti. I can’t imagine two times the spaghetti mess. Or two boys, accomplished crawlers, crawling off in different directions (or, soon enough, cruising, walking—running—in different directions). I can’t imagine finger paint projects times three, drippy ice cream cones times three, new running shoes times three, new bikes times three, new (OK, they won’t be driving new but still) cars times three, my God, college times three.

And then I’m a little more content with their development, wiping pureed peas off chins while Sophie spills a glass of milk all over our cloth-covered (what were we thinking) dining room chairs. I relish, and appreciate, their baby-ness. And will wait until they turn 11 months old, to revisit my blog archives and compare.

“Comparison is a death knell to sibling harmony.” —Elizabeth Fishel