Yeah, I said it. Motherhood is not a competitive sport.
Some mom’s seem to have not gotten that memo though. Myself included sometimes. I’m not immune to getting stuck in the trap of at the very least mentally competing with other mothers. Even though I’m aware it happens, it still seems to sneak up on me more than I’m comfortable with, and it’s a habit I’m actively trying to break.
So why are we like this? What makes us feel the need to compete with and try to outdo other moms? I’m sure there are very scientific reasons behind why this happens. Sociologists have probably written papers on this specific phenomenon and all the reasons it occurs. Are dads competitive like this? Are all people?
The thing with competition is, I don’t see anything wrong with it if it just drives you to do better and achieve more. Competition can be a great motivator. But when you’re constantly disrupting everyone else’s moment to shine so you can steal their thunder, it becomes a problem. A really annoying problem.
I have certain mothers in my life who for some reason can’t stand to listen to me say anything about my daughter without trying to one up it. My daughter gets all B’s and 2 A’s on her report card? Oh Lauren got all A’s! My daughter learns a new skill? Yeah Ella learned that 6 months ago. My daughter gets a new device or toy she had been asking for? Ava got that for Christmas and she doesn’t even play with it anymore!
Great. Good for little Laurellava, I’m genuinely happy for the kid but was it really necessary to mention that at this specific moment? I see what you’re doing.
Now, I get that sometimes people just do these things as a way to relate. They want to show that they understand or that they too are familiar with whatever the current topic is, and that’s perfectly understandable. But there’s also a lot of times when you can just tell, either because it happens all the time from this particular person, or because of the way they chime in, you can tell they’re really just trying to say, “My daughter/son did that first/better!”
Why? What is the point of this? Can’t you just say “congratulations” or “good job” or “how exciting!” and move on?
The other thing I always see is the “I’m more tired/my life is busier than yours!” game. You see this a lot from moms with more than one kid, mostly towards mothers of one, or heaven forbid no kids at all. Mother of One Amy might groan about how busy she is and Sally-Three-Kids can’t help but pipe up, “Oh girl! You have no idea! Try having THREE!”
With all due respect, shut up Sally.
Does anyone remember that meme that went around a few years ago with the woman with the letterboard sign saying that moms should get to cut to the front of the line at coffee shops because they were more tired than those who were child free?
Yeah, that kind of thing.
That woman got mostly ripped apart from what I recall, with responses ranging from offended (“Uhhh actually pretty sure DOCTORS and NURSES and FIREFIGHTERS, etc, understand tired more than you ever will!”) to straight up crass (“Yeah you’re not special just because you let someone c*m in you.”) a lot of people seemed really annoyed by her “I deserve special treatment because I’m a MOM!” sentiment, as harmless and tongue-in-cheek as she might have intended it at the time. I’m sure plenty of mom’s also found her post funny and relatable, and from time to time I do still see if get reposted by moms in various places but for the most part I just remember the irritated reactions.
Here’s the thing, motherhood is exhausting. Absolutely. There’s no denying that. Is it more exhausting than anyone else’s life? Not necessarily. So let’s not pretend that any of us deserve X amount of sympathy because of Y contributing factors, and just quit the competing. We’re all freaking tired.
So mothers (yes including myself, as I said I am guilty of this as well!) I’m issuing us all a challenge. If another mom brings up something she’s excited about, let’s try to refrain from responding in a way that tries to beat or one up her story. Let’s just respond positively and with encouragement. If someone says they’re tired, don’t scoff that they have no idea because blah blah blah. If someone brags about something they’ve accomplished that you did before, try to fight the urge to bring up your own accomplishment and just simply congratulate them instead.
You can brag later.