Size Doesn’t Matter
January 20, 2013 1 Comment
It has been some time since my daughters were babies, but even then there was a constant comparison between mothers regarding the size of their babies. It felt like, the bigger the baby, the better the baby. A big baby was a sign of good health and logically, good mothering. Neither of my daughters were what could be considered ‘big’. Although they were both over due, my oldest was a mere 6 pounds, 3 ounces at birth and in a day quickly dropped to 5 pounds 10 ounces. She was consistently below the 50th percentile in height, weight and head circumference for the first 3 years. My younger daughter was 7 pounds 3 ounces at birth and also constantly remained in the 50th percentile for about the first 3 years. Both were quick walkers, early talkers and so far in school, great learners. Their small size at birth and toddler years seems to have had zero impact on the children they have developed into.
I remember a co-worker who had a child about the same time as my youngest daughter but unlike my daughter, their child was a ‘big’ baby. And I remember all the concerned questions I received regarding the size of my child. Especially in comparison to a child similar in age and so drastically different in size. And it made me wonder, even all those years ago, what the big deal was about having a ‘big’ baby? Lucky for me, my daughters fit into the size of clothes that matched their months for a very long time. This made purchasing seasons head very easy for me. And because both were small and born only 14 months apart I was able to use the same clothes over again as they were right size for the right season for my second daughter. And I can’t tell you how nice it was to not have a heavy child to carry in a car seat or wrap. My small babies made my life very comfortable.
But still I hear the boasting comments on the size of babies. Especially those under a year old. And it makes me wonder, at what age does the boasting of having a ‘big’ baby end and the boasting of having a ‘thin’ child happen especially in regards to daughters? It’s funny to me that there is a culture of accepting large babies as healthy and yet that changes the moment a baby becomes a child, teen or adult. And does this happen strictly to daughters and their parents?
When my daughters hit about three and a half they each shot up in height. Like their older sister and almost every one in their family, they are tall people, They have large feet and long legs. My older daughter is built more solid like her older sister. Very athletic. All strong muscles and sureness in her athletic abilities. Loves and excels at every physical sport tries. My younger daughter is thin. So thin that when she sucks in her tummy I can count every rib. Every. Rib. I can put my fingers on one hand around her ankles. She is long and lean in every sense of the word. Like her father was a child I am told. Bony bum and all!
But my daughters are tall enough to be the ‘big’ girls in their classes and when people comment on their height I forget that at one time they were both so delicately small. They were not always the giants they now appear to be. Nor will be they forever most likely. Their start in this world, the weight they were, has had no bearing on who they have grown up into. Nor will affect who they become.
So why the obsession with ‘big’ babies? What does it matter how big your babies is? Having a big baby does not assure great parenting, nor does having a small child assume poor parenting. Babies are how they are. Some are small no matter how much they eat – my youngest daughter is living proof that a child can eat ALL THE TIME and still have ribs to count.
The down side to these comparisons and labels of ‘healthy’ babies can be most challenging on moms though. Especially first time moms who are finding their footing in the land of motherhood and who are holding themselves to an unbelievable standard of perfection. Shortly after my first daughter was born I became friends with a women whose son was born unimaginably early (26 weeks) and heart breakingly small (1 pound 4 ounces). He was 9 months old and just out of the hospital with oxygen in tow when we met. My daughter was 2 months old. She was a giant on the blanket next to him. But today, they are equal in size, and ability. Time is the great equalizer. It matters very little how big a baby is. That child and these past 7 years have proven that to me time and time again. Having small babies, and now, tall daughter I have learned only to care about the image they have of themselves. They are tall. And strong. And capable.