The day the community midwife signed me off, she wished me good luck and offered me one piece of advice. 'Never compare your child to anyone else's and never compare yourself to other mums'.
I've been going back to her words a lot over the past couple of weeks, repeating them to myself over and over. Trying to not compare your baby with others is tough. Babies develop rapidly at this sort of age, and they all reach different milestones at different times. I know that. And Samuel is spot on in terms of his development. I know that too. Yet when I see him at play groups and play dates struggling to do some of the things his contemporaries are doing, I can't help but feel it. If he is popped down on his tummy to hang out with the gang, he cries immediately and wants to get up and be held. If he's offered finger food with the others who are happily noshing away, he cries because he doesn't really know what to do with it. If I move more than a metre or two away from him at any point he cries because he hasn't learned to play without me around yet.
And then I start to wonder about my role in all of this. Maybe I should be giving him more tummy time (and stop worrying about how much milk he throws up every time I do it). Maybe I should be working much harder on the finger foods and not focusing so much on the purées. Maybe if I'd have chilled out a little bit more and not been such a hovering mum, he'd be much happier being left to play alone now. Maybe I should have been more prepared and read up on parenting psychological theories and philosophies long before he came along.
It's crazy how, if you give this sort of stuff time to fester, you really can start regretting tiny little decisions you've made over the early months and start to worry that you've indelibly broken your baby. The other night I was really beating myself up about having given him the odd sugary rusk. But it's madness. I know that Samuel's a happy little man if he's with me and we're sticking to his routine. He's kind, he's funny, he's interested in everything, he's extremely dextrous and he loves a good giggle. I know that when all is said and done, he's doing great and he'll get there in his own time. All that I'm trying to do is the best that I can. There's a huge amount of room for improvement, but I'm on the steepest learning curve of my life. I'll get there in my own time too. In the meantime, I'll keep thinking back to the midwife's words.