Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why There Is Little Point In Comparing Children

They tell you that you should never compare your children.

Well, I think ‘they’ probably never had children, because find me a mother who doesn’t wantonly compare their kids and I will find you a mother who is still under the influence of her labour-drugs.
Compare and contrast: Baldy Baby and the Blonde Bombshell

With Baldy Baby now five weeks old I find I am constantly comparing her with her eldest sister, the Blonde Bombshell.  This is because they look similar, were approximately the same size and – to be frank - because I simply cannot recall anything about the early days of my second child, Miss Curly Mop.  I assume she had early days because she is now two and still with us, but I struggle to have any memories of her as a newborn or infant.

This, from someone who wrote everything down.

And I mean that quite literally.  I did write everything down.  In the hospital where all three of my girls were born, the midwives ask mums to complete a chart documenting feeds (when, how long, which side) and wet and dirty nappies.  Most mums do it for a few days and then give up. The rest stop when they leave hospital.  I did it for a year.

Anal much?

In my former life before children, I was a researcher.   I also worked in clinical drug trials where documenting things can be a matter of life and death.  Perhaps that is overstating it slightly, but you do develop a love for small details, and become the type of person who loves ticking boxes and completing forms.  Some of you are nodding. Admit it, the thought of completing the census every four years gets you quite excited, doesn’t it?

Anyway… back to the point.  I can compare Baldy Baby and the Blonde Bombshell (look, they even have the same initials!  How can I not compare them?) because I have extraordinarily detailed records of everything the Bombshell did in her early weeks from which side breast she fed on, to what time of day she pooped.  The first night at home, I wheeled her bassinet into the bedroom and climbed into bed.  Five seconds later, Bombshell Baby and I were back in the family room where we slept for the next two months, having realised that she was going to scream pretty much solidly for the entire night.

I remember recording that first night in detail.  What time I turned the light off, how long she slept, when she started screaming, when the light went back on. Change a nappy, breastfeed, light off.  Scream, light back on, jiggle, sing, light off.  Light on, more jiggles, more singing.  Change nappy.  Light off.  Short nap.  Scream, light on.  You get the idea.

Why did I do this?  Surely it wasn’t just the researcher in me.  I suspect it was partly so I could complain in great and accurate detail to my husband the next day about how horrible it had been. Partly because it was one of the few things I could actually control, and dammit, I was going to have the most detailed baby diary known to mankind. It was just a pity about the baby.

The first two months with the Bombshell Baby were pretty difficult, caused in no small part by my complete ignorance about babies and my misguided belief that writing it down would somehow make things easier. 

Writing it down means that five years down the track, I can recall with great ease those long nights.  So very very long. And when I am up at 3am feeding Baldy Baby I can laugh at the utter ridiculousness of myself back then, why I couldn’t just let the baby make a tiny noise without feeling the need to rush to her. Why I over-thought everything, and sweated the small stuff.

This is when I realise that it isn’t the babies, but their mother I am comparing.  Over-anxious, naïve, first time mum with an over-reliance on white noise and stringent settling techniques, and older, chilled third-time mum with a dodgy Facebook habit. 
Maybe ‘they’ were right.

Turns out I still write things down in the middle of the night.  Only this time it’s usually ideas for my blog.  Much healthier.


  1. I love this post.
    I absolutely think the writing it all down was about control.
    Well, it was for me.
    I, too, made my own charts when I got home and kept the buggers religiously.
    How else could I make sure I was 'on top' of it??!!
    Ha ha!

    Although, my 'record keeping' was actually an accidental godsend.
    My Magoo was a sick little man and my 'records' or 'data' actually helped the specialists diagnose his conditions and arrange the appropriate surgeries.
    They may also have been some evidence that this first-time Mum was not going completely bonkers. Just partially.

    Now I'm pregnant with my second and I wonder if I'll do the same - or instead be so lax I forget where I put the baby!!!
    (As if.)
    It'll definitely be my mothering that I'll be comparing.

    And how sweeeeeet is that pic?!
    :-) xx

  2. Fabulous post Shan! I'm still giggling. First up: you kept records for A YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's incredible. And second, yes, I love how you are really comparing the mother. I can already imagine how many things I would do differently after having one and you have double (plus a bit) that experience already. A different ball game!.
    And third - love, love it that now your writing down in the night is blog ideas. Go you xxx


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