Anyone who knows me will testify to the fact that I am, indeed, a pushy mother. Friends will confirm that I am more than happy to sing my daughter’s praises and boast of her many and varied accomplishments at any available opportunity. And if that opportunity doesn’t occur organically, be sure that I will create it. Given that she is not yet two, you are correct in assuming that she has not yet graduated from Cambridge with a first class honours degree, become the youngest Olympic gold medal winner or the first woman to set foot on Mars. But, don’t worry, when this is the case I can assure you that you will be the first to know.
Apologies to those of you reading this (as I would be) waiting for me to now provide detailed anecdotal evidence of exactly what my supposedly talented toddler may or may not be able to do so that you have that all important checklist for measuring your own child’s invariably greater successes, I will not be detailing any of her milestone markers here. Because I am slowly coming to realise that this isn’t really about her at all…
I was pushy when I was pregnant. From day one (in fact, if I’m honest, even before that blue line appeared), I became obsessed with the Baby Centre pregnancy app. And, when that failed to satisfy (after all, that provided merely one piece of precious information a day), I began to alternate between that and Sprout. Obviously this is in addition to consulting every book ever written on the subject. I could accurately inform you at any given moment the exact fruit my growing foetus was the size of. Cumquat or butternut squash, I could detail the development of its organs and let you know exactly what I could do to ensure everything grew as expected. Okay, I may have indulged in a little more Diet Coke than was really recommended and certainly failed to meet the requirements for pelvic floor exercises, but told myself knowledge is power, right? And when I felt those first flutterings of movement I rejoiced because, not only could I finally feel my beloved baby, but they were earlier than the books said they would be! Terrible, I know.
And then my beautiful baby was born. And she was everything I had ever hoped for and more. And I swore right then and there that I would give her every little thing I had.
So my reading list expanded. My weekly guide became my scripture as I broke my earlier promise to myself by reading a week ahead, just to be on the safe side.
As she has grown we have tried it all; Baby Signing and swimming, flash cards and Gymboree, church mother and toddler groups and classical music. If research suggests it is beneficial for your child, we have been there!
We have also sat drinking coffee with other mothers after these classes. Now, 31 years of life experience has taught me that you don’t win friends by showing off so, as I became initiated in to that wonderful world of motherhood through shared birth stories and talk of reflux and routines, I often sat silently screaming yes, but guess what she did today?!
But it wasn’t until recently I realised I may have a problem. As I began a simple online search for Gifts for Father’s Day, good old Google decided to throw up every site I had ever searched with the reference gifted toddlers. And there were a few!
And today was her two year check up (I even took the fact it came a week early to be a positive sign!) and, as he left for work, her father (a man who’s mantra in life is don’t try, just do it and who recalls with pleasure tennis tournaments where he made his siblings cry) turned to offer these parting words;
Remember, it isn’t a competition.
And he is right. You are all right. Because I know that I should let her be a child, that they all develop at their own rate and every other pearl of wisdom that makes mothers like me fein modesty and bite our tongues. But I like to think that, despite the evident truths in these words, my behaviour (and I am sure I am not alone here) is not all bad.
I am proud of my daughter and I tell her every day, so why not the rest of the world? She is certainly not perfect but remains the most awe inspiring thing I have ever known and watching her change and grow never ceases to amaze me so should this not be celebrated? And if I want her to see just how wonderful the world is and that she can contribute to that in so many different ways, is it not my job to show her how?