I have recently noticed a pointed and competitive edge amongst certain mothers, something I thought was reserved for middle class women at boarding schools and grandmothers outside Sunday schools. I have quickly to add that none of my close friends or my ante-natal friends are included in this because the display of this edge immediately eliminates the offender from my circle.
I am talking about improbable mothers who are endlessly blurting about how much their baby sleeps, how early it smiled, how it's laughing already and is only 3 weeks old, how much hair it has, how it grasps it's little rattle when the midwives say it shouldn't have any control over it's hands (rather like it's mother and her mouth)... and these boasts are always couched as worried questions 'I don't know if this is normal ha ha but little Fluffypootykins is already spelling four syllable words. Should I take her to the doctor?' My Ass. Normally little Fluffypootykins is a doughy blob with a dummy shoved into it's wet little mouth and too many frills on it's socks.
A few scant months ago I had no idea that that this was a competition - and apart from the inevitable 'I'm so glad Charlie doesn't look like THAT' I had nothing to say on the very private matter of how ugly most babies truly are... but I realise now I was sadly deluded. In fact, I've noticed some Mums being competitive about everything from the birth to the length of their baby's toes.
Having had what is universally accepted by everyone except me as an easy birth it would be terribly bad form for me to go on about it and those of my friends who've had genuinely awful births speak about them in hushed tones if at all - however there are those out there for whom every contraction was The Worst Ever and every stitch was Ten At Least and every pound of baby was doubled because I'm So Small. It's inevitably those same women who go on to talk about how their three-week-old snookums is smiling and nearly potty trained and oh dear is Charlie really not rolling over yet? Little Wonder is sleeping 20 hours at a go and eating a three course meal and he's half Charlie's age, Have You Spoken To The Health Visitor About It?
In fact it seems to me that those Mums are the same ones still receiving visits from the Health Visitor which always makes me think of nits and rats and babies at risk. I have to swallow my tongue to stop myself from saying 'If Snookums is so perfect, why is there a civil servant still coming to your house to check on it's progress?' because... well er... because perhaps secretly I am worried that they are right and there is something wrong with Charlie not being able to hold a toy at 8 weeks old or not sleeping through the night or not having all his hair.
It's really pernicious this competition and even though I genuinely do not care if Charlie is sitting up before or after any other baby in the world, I do find myself being glad he doesn't have a big fat head, or being narked that his hair fell out - or looking at babies in massive bourgeouis strollers and feeling superior about Charlie's sling.
In fact, I can't see the point in being competitive about anything, I mean, Charlie is doing fine. He was holding his head up from the day he was born, you know. He's taller then any baby the midwife ever saw, we had the fastest birth, he's stopped pooing in the night and he's already trying to stand up.
To be honest in fact I think he's already trying to say 'Mama'... but you can't be sure, you know, it may just be 'my mama's mad'.