We rocked up to our first lesson and I saw my neighbour there with her 11-month-old daughter, who is also her first child. Now, in the country 'neighbour' doesn't necessarily mean next-door neighbour (next-door could even be several kilometres away) - it means anyone on a farm remotely nearby to you. This neighbour is probably about 5km away, but I hadn't seen her for ages.
Our experiences could not have been more different.
Her daughter is already walking before the age of one, has slept through the night consistently since she was a few months old, and had an absolute ball in the water. My neighbour was wearing a bikini, has pretty much regained her pre-baby body, and got back into sport a few months after having her baby. I remember seeing her in the supermarket when Flynn was a few months old and she said she was close to being due. I couldn't believe it, I thought she had months to go. She was TINY.
Flynn walked later (at 14 months), SCREAMED his head off for the entire lesson, I can count the number of times he's slept through the night on one hand and he ends up in our bed every night - the only way we can get some sleep. I was wearing a faded old t-shirt I've had since I was 12 over the top of my tankini to hide the fact that I still look terrible thanks to abdominal diastasis. I haven't played sport in goodness knows how long and can't until I've recovered from my surgery mid-year.
It would have been easy for me to become very disheartened after this experience, but an article I read on Facebook recently really helped my perspective. When we're having a bad parenting day, it's easy to think seemingly perfect parents are parenting AT US, that they are deliberately trying to make us feel bad. I don't believe for a second that my neighbour was trying to be superior to me. She simply has a much easier baby and has therefore had a much easier time than me. It's also good for parents who do have a bit of an easier time of things to see parents like me, who very clearly HAVEN'T had an easy time of it and are battling along in the hope that their authenticity is an encouragement to others.