I think I've talked about this a bit before, but it's amazing how much peer pressure can impact life, even with an eleven month old. He's not even old enough to ask for the coolest toy or to need a cell phone, or to want to go hang out at the mall with his friends...and yet I'm already freaking out a bit about his friends! I think it all stems from the fact that I don't feel like I have a heck of a lot of guidance. I don't have many mommy friends, and you can only glean so much timely information from the internet. We only go to the doctor every three months, and that is practically light years in baby time. So much changes! As a result, I seem to find myself playing catch up a lot. You see, it's easy to get in a routine. We try something new and it takes a while to settle in. Once we do, it's nice to just get in a routine and enjoy it for a while. However, babies change so much that you really shouldn't stay in the routine for too long or else you'll be stuck in a rut that's no longer age-appropriate. And that's when the catch-up begins. For example, we started solid foods late...not according to a lot of standards that say that six months is a good time, but compared to a lot of other people that begin at four months. I didn't want to start that early for a few reasons...first, Jacob was quite content with breastfeeding; second, I didn't feel like there was any need to make things more complicated any earlier than we had to; third, no sense risking the allergy thing by starting things too soon. Well, once we started them we ran into issues. Jacob wasn't a fan, he was sick, etc. So, it took a while to really get going on it. Once he did we still had some challenges--teething and more illness--but we settled into a pretty basic routine. And there we sat. I mean, we moved up to stage 2 foods, ate a little more (but not much), started cheerios and puffs, and have steadily tried to add more. We're definitely in a big testing mode right now. But when it comes to daycare, I just send a thing of baby food, a thing of yogurt, and he has puffs and cheerios....plus a couple bottles worth of milk that they split up, since he fights bottle feedings now. But there are other kids that are younger than him that get a lot more...one girl had some pasta and vegetable mix today, and another kid gets four little containers of finger foods...strawberries, hot dogs, chicken, grapes, and who knows what else. I look at those containers and marvel a bit, because I can't imagine Jacob picking up and eating all of that food. Most nights he struggles to finish the 10 pieces of whatever that I put on his tray, let alone a full container of anything. Granted, I'm still giving him some baby food and cereal to keep up the nutrition, but still...that shouldn't fill him up. He just isn't that into eating. I still maintain that it may be the time we eat dinner, that it's too late and he's just cranky. In fact, tonight for the first time he fell asleep in his high chair. And it wasn't even that late! It's moments like that that make me kick myself for not finding a way to shift my schedule and get home from work earlier. It's something he'd obviously benefit from, but I'm not sure I can get out of bed at 5:30am to make it happen. It may still get easier when we start weaning and he can feed himself breakfast while I prep his food for daycare, but still...right now it's tough.
So, back to the peer pressure thing...when I see the food situation I start panicking a bit that we're not doing enough for him, that we're not pushing forward enough and he's going to get left behind. I know it's probably a little irrational when we're just talking about food, but what if things end up that way when it comes to learning shapes, colors and animals? Am I going to get too busy or lazy to really work on that stuff with him? How am I going to respond if he doesn't pick it up as easy as I'd like? I know all babies go at different rates, but it's tough to keep telling yourself that when you see your baby get passed by. Same goes for other major milestones like walking and talking. It's easy to get nervous that your child is falling behind and isn't picking up things as fast...and wonder what it means for their future. Probably nothing, but still...
Even just experiences are tough. Looking around on the internet, you see all the things people do with their babies--hiking, swimming, etc.--and sometimes I wonder if we're giving Jacob a fulfilling experience. We're so busy that we only have a couple hours with him in the evening, and usually it's filled with eating, bathtime, and sitting in the living room trying to play with his toys (notice I say "trying"...usually it's more like blocking him from getting into things all over the house). We rarely have enough time for a walk or anything else interesting in the evening. On weekends we try to get him out and about, but I still feel like we're missing stuff. He hasn't been in our yard much because our grass is awful. No kiddie pool yet because the weather has been cool. Not a lot of walking because we spend a lot of weekend time doing errands or traveling or doing things around the house. He should be our priority, but sometimes reality intervenes and it's incredibly difficult to figure out how to satisfy everyone. We've been pondering vacation this summer, and while he's probably too young to appreciate anything we'd do, it would still be nice to give Mommy and Daddy a nice vacation away (we haven't done it in 18 months, though at least Craig has gotten away on road trips...I, however, am itching to get out of the house) and still provide some sort of enriching experience for Jacob...without spending a ton of money. It's a tough one.
So, yeah, I'm having a tough time figuring out how soon Jacob should be exposed to almost everything. It's easy to make yourself feel inadequate. I know we're doing what we can but I keep trying to do more. I just want what's best for him.