Yesterday afternoon we all went along to the pub to celebrate a friend's birthday. There were a group of parents there who we didn't know, whose babies were all around 14 weeks old. One of the mums took a quick glance in the direction of me and the twins and said, 'oh, your babies are really young, aren't they?' I told her they're 20 weeks, and she replied, 'but they're so tiny.' Now, for some reason, my defensive inner voice kicked in and I bristled. What she probably meant was that they're cute because they're still quite small and dinky but this got translated in my mummy brain and what I heard instead was, 'They're too small. Why are they so small? Is she feeding them properly?' The 'tiny' comment felt like a slight against me and my little darlings, and I went into defensive mode.
So it's time I held my hands up and admit that I'm not immune to Competitive Mummy Syndrome! It started way back when I was pregnant and was endlessly comparing my bump with other bumps, exchanging morning sickness stories (for the record I don't think many people can beat my five months of nauseating morning sickness!), and quizzing people about how prepared they were (I was at home obsessively reading parenting books and compiling endless lists). Now Mr A and Miss E are here there's even more to compare, judge and dissect. I wish I didn't do it, but I'm guilty of sounding off to Young Daddy after a chat or meetup with fellow mum friends, 'oh, you won't believe what so-and-so's doing now.' But the particular strain of Competitive Mummy Syndrome that I suffer from is not that I think my babies are better than everyone else's, it's actually the opposite - I'm my own harshest critic!
At the end of the day, I know that everyone has their own approach, that every baby is different and I have to remember that I HAVE TWINS and things are likely to be a bit more difficult for me. It's natural to find it tough going, but that doesn't mean I'm failing. So when I catch smug mothers (who think they are acing the parenting test because their baby is a happy little cherub who sleeps at all the right times and reaches all the milestones bang on schedule) looking at me with disbelief/shock/distaste because the only way I can get Mr A and Miss E to (perhaps) stop crying is to stand by the fairy lights in the pub and sway violently, I shall just hope that their second baby is a nightmare. Ooh I'm evil!