Here are my darling daughters... notice they look nothing alike. And their personalities are as different as their looks. Gigi takes a bit to warm up to people, while Emi Lou crawls out of my arms to be held by strangers. Emi Lou is a party animal who is perfectly happy running on less sleep than me, while Gigi would stay in bed with me all day cuddling and sleeping if I wanted to.
I pretty much thought I had parenting figured out with Gigi. We had a few challenges, but for the most part, Gigi made becoming a mommy feel easier than I had ever dreamed. But then little Emi Lou came along and none of my tricks worked! The baby wrap and the boob were the sure-fire solutions to everything with Gigi. With Emi Lou, the boob mostly seemed to frustrate her and she always tried to wiggle and squirm out of the baby wrap.
Now, lest you get the wrong impression, I'm not trying to say Gigi is "easy" and Emi is "difficult". (That's actually kind of the opposite of my message!) I noticed right away that Emi was actually easier in certain ways and a bit more challenging in others. I used to sometimes wonder if I was doing something wrong when Gigi would burst into tears if my dad would try to talk to her or when my sister would try to hold her, but I was reassured when my social butterfly, Emi, took to everyone she met. (And Gigi has become much more friendly and outgoing as she's gotten older, even though she's still a bit timid around people she doesn't know.)
I think that one of the most important parenting lessons I've learned is to trust my children: trust them to tell me who they are and what they need, and trust that they will learn and grow at their own pace, and both eventually learn to walk, talk, read, etc. I know it's hard as parents (and as humans!) to fight that urge to compare our children/ourselves to others. I find there's a fine line between observing differences in two people/children and comparing them. Of course we will notices differences between our children and others, and between ourselves and others... it's human nature.
|An example of the differences between my husband and I :)|
But when we start "comparing" our children and wondering why our kid isn't walking or talking as well as his friend who's the same age, I know it can put undue stress on ourselves and our children.
I have a good friend who's daughter was nearly 2 before she started walking. I know many parents start to panic if their kid isn't walking by 12 months, but this lucky little girl had a mama who knew her... her mama knew that she was extremely cautious, and that even though she had the ability to walk on her own, she wasn't going to do it until she was totally confident and comfortable walking.
I'm honestly not sure I would have been able to trust my child that long. Even though I knew that Gigi was a bit timid and had more intense separation/stranger anxiety than other babies I knew, there were times I didn't trust that she would outgrow it. I was so embarrassed when she had a melt down at my brother's wedding as he tried to hold her for a picture (along with her cousins who were the same age, who sat happily on his lap). I was so frustrated when I couldn't even leave Gigi with her dad while I ran an errand without some serious waterworks. So I tried to force separation on her for a few weeks, until I noticed how badly it was backfiring. She became more clingy and anxious, and it wasn't until started trusting her again that she started to come around. (Plug here for The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution ... this book changed our lives!)
So I'm continuously striving to trust my children more and to compare them less. And hopefully someday I'll get this parenting thing figured out for reals :)