One of my favorite things about having multiple children is watching how they each develop differently. It’s amazing to me how children who got their DNA from the same two people can be so unique. Sure, they have their commonalities, but they are also each so individual.
My first child said “Happy Birthday” on her first birthday. No joke. She had 60 words by the time she was 13 months old. My second did not have that many words, but like her sister she still talked before she walked, however many people didn’t realize this because she was picky about who she talked to. I remember picking her up from the MOPS nursery in the fall after she turned two (we take the summer off from MOPS) and the nursery worker delightedly told me, “Jane can talk now!”. I didn’t want to be rude, so I smiled and agreed, but internally I was thinking, “Yeah, she’s been able to talk for a long time. But I guess she just didn’t want to talk to you before now.”
There are so many ways that our children can be alike or dissimilar. Sometimes finding out their different learning styles or the most effective way to discipline each one can be a challenge. Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out the best way, and that is ok. You are doing your best, but you are only human and you will make mistakes. Probably more with your firstborn than with the others . At least that is my story, I call my oldest “My Poor Little Guinea Pig”.
But I think that the most dangerous thing you can do is compare one child to another child and try to make that child be like that other child.
I like to think of children as being similar to flowers. In order for a flower to do well and bloom, it needs certain conditions. But the conditions are not the same for all flowers. Some like a lot of water, some will die without good drainage. Some like sandy soil, some need dark rich dirt, some only grown well in tree bark. Some need lots of direct sunlight, some need lots of shade. You get the picture. They are each unique and lovely being who they are.
These pictures are of one of my favorite roses, Joseph’s Coat, and an orchid. Can you choose which one is the most pretty? I can’t. They are each unique and beautiful in their own way. But if I were take this orchid and plant it in the ground next to this rosebush here on the wet Oregon coast, do you know what would happen? That orchid would die. Plain and simple. It is not a rose, it can’t thrive in the kind of conditions that roses love. And if I brought this rosebush into my house and only gave it an ice cube a week for its water, it would soon die, too. Those aren’t the conditions that it flourishes in.
I think mama’s are amazing at knowing their children. We often intuitively pick up on their needs and the best way to meet them. But the pressure and opinions and comparisons from outside sources do tend to creep into our thinking.
“Her baby is 4 weeks old and sleeps through the night, mine is 9 months old and I can’t remember the last time I slept for more than 3 hours at a time.”
“That mama’s toddler can say full, clear sentences and I’m the only one who can understand my toddler’s grunts and squeals.”
“That kid can play full pieces on the piano and my child can’t even match the rhythm of a the ABC song.”
Stop it, mama! Your child is YOUR CHILD. A unique individual with unique growth patterns and style. She may never be able to carry a tune, but she has her own strengths that differ from the child who can perfectly match the tone and rhythm of every song.
I just want you celebrate the uniqueness of your child. I personally think it is fun and fascinating to see how each child grows and develops at their own pace and in their own way. I do love to make comparisons, but more as observations, and not in a negative way. I delight in seeing the individuality of each child, and I want you to as well.
There is no individual on this planet that is just like your child. Celebrate it!