I am a crazy perfectionist.
Which may sound strange if you know me in person, because I’m also a mess. My desk at school is currently a raging dumpster fire of papers, my car looks like I live in it, and let’s not even get started on my closet. But I’m an organized mess. I know where everything is at all times and I don’t let my mess get in the way of my quest for perfection.
I’m also insanely competitive, which, if you’ve spoken to me for even three seconds, you already know. I’ve joked before that that’s why I like eBay–not only do you get to shop, it tells you you win when you buy something. And I love winning.
Combining being a perfectionist with my competitive nature, however, has been a disaster in motherhood, especially once we hit the torticollis and helmet bumps in the road. Because that helmet feels like a giant neon sign saying that my baby isn’t perfect, and as he is an extension of me, it feels like it’s screaming to the whole world about one of my flaws.
Yes, I know I’m ridiculous. But it’s still how it feels.
And it all ties in to the latest feeling of failure, which I’m calling FOLM–Fear of Late Milestones.
Much like FOMO or Fear of Missing Out, FOLM has always existed, but is exacerbated by the social media era. I’m sure that moms hundreds of years ago worried when they went to the park, or factory, or public execution (hey, hundreds of years ago, people had pretty sick forms of entertainment) and saw that other babies who were the same age as their babies were walking already and freaked out that there was something wrong with their baby. But it’s worse now that it’s all broadcast on social media.
Last weekend, I saw videos from two different friends, whose babies are within a couple of weeks of Jacob’s age, and their babies were crawling all over the place.
Jacob is not crawling. Nor does he seem anywhere close to it.
I cried. I Googled. I cried some more.
The reality is that babies are expected to start crawling between six and ten months, and Jacob is eight months old. So it doesn’t mean he’s behind. According to our physical therapist, part of that is disposition; Jacob is the most chill baby ever (which he certainly did not get from me, the anxiety queen), so he’s content to sit and watch the world. He’s also huge, weighing in at over 21 pounds at eight months, and bigger babies tend to reach some of the gross motor skills milestones later, as they have more weight to lug around with them.
He also seems to have no desire to crawl yet, which may be my fault. He’ll reach his hand out for something (which really looks like he’s using the Force. Mama’s inner Star Wars nerd is so proud of her little Jedi!), and one of us usually gives it to him. Who needs to crawl when you have a mommy slave?
But I crawled at six months, walked at nine months, identified letters on the fridge at 18 months, and wrote my first novel at 22 months.
Okay, that last one was more like at 25 years. But still. I was exceptionally precocious with all developmental milestones.
And Jacob was supposed to be even better than me with all of that.
I’m fully aware that my competitive nature has not won me any friends. In fact, it’s cost me a lot. Because not only do I try to be the best at everything, I succeed just enough to be insanely annoying. My mom was only in labor with me for eight hours (which is considered supersonic speed for a first baby). I told her I’d beat that, and I did, giving birth to Jacob six hours and one minute after my water broke. She lost eight pounds off her pre-pregnancy weight with me. I lost nine after Jacob was born. Etc.
Do you hate me yet? I kinda hate myself reading that. (And I bet I hate me more than you hate me! Okay, okay, I’ll stop…)
So watching Jacob not be the first to do everything is difficult, because there’s nothing that I can do (besides continuing his physical therapy and doing as many of his exercises with him as I can) to catch him up.
And even more upsetting, our physical therapist showed us a scale of things he should be able to do, and he’s definitely behind in a few areas. Even though the tilt from the torticollis is gone now, he still has residual shoulder strength issues. She said it’s really the chicken or the egg here–did his weak shoulder strength cause the torticollis, or did torticollis cause shoulder weakness.
She did assure us that there was nothing we could have done to prevent it either way, but I still feel like it’s my fault. Torticollis CAN be caused by low amniotic fluid, which I had. Yes, I know that wasn’t my fault on the logical level, but if it’s possible that my body did this to Jacob, I still feel like I did this.
On the plus side, our physical therapist assured us that he’s making progress, that we’ll keep working, that we’ll get him to where he needs to be, and that the age that babies walk and crawl at has no correlation whatsoever to the age that they hit any other developmental milestones at.
She also recommended I get serious professional help because I’m actually competing with myself for what age Jacob does things at.
But that’s another one of those hard first-time parenting things, because what my brother and I did is my only real basis of comparison for what Jacob should be doing. And I hate worrying that he’s not exactly where a chart says that he should be.
Until then, feel free to keep reminding me that just because he’s not the first one to do something doesn’t mean he’s actually late. It does take both early and later babies to make up those average age ranges after all.
Happy holidays, folks! I’ll see you in the new year!