Monday, July 23, 2012
There I was, ready to work out. I had on my yoga pants, my sneakers laced up, 14-week old Henry was sound asleep in his stroller. I was pumped to be exercising again, and I loved that for the past few weeks I had been able to attend a particular "Mommy and Me" class held in my town. The first classes had gone well and without anything notable happening (if you don’t count getting my shoelace stuck in the wheel of another woman’s stroller. Yeah.). But then, out of the blue, Mrs. My-Baby-Is-The-Number-One-Baby-Ever decided she wanted to be buddies.
It started out innocently enough; small talk, quick chats while we pushed our babies around in their strollers. “Oh, what does your husband do?” “Do you miss teaching?” “Do you plan on having more kids?” I didn’t mind the chatter too much. It’s not like this was an extremely grueling workout– I mean, we were pushing strollers– so it was a nice break in the monotony of working out in the same half-gymnasium, three days a week.
Then, one unassuming Wednesday morning, it began. I mentioned something in regards to how Henry had been sleeping well recently, and what an amazing thing it’s been getting a full seven hours of sleep in a row. “WELL MY BABY SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT FROM DAY ONE, EVEN BEFORE SHE WAS BORN, LIKE IN MY BELLY SHE WOULD SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. SHE SLEEPS ALL DAY TOO, JUST SO YOU KNOW. YEAH, SHE’S THE BEST SLEEPER EVER.”
I responded with a “Good, great! That’s wonderful,” and pushed my stroller a little faster so she’d maybe get the hint that one, I didn’t care to compete with her, and two, it’s really weird to yell full sentences at someone when you’re right next to them.
As the next few weeks went by, the mom-petitiveness escalated (I learned that her baby was well on its way to being fluent in sign language and Spanish, could pee on command, and was on the road to becoming a little “Doogie Howser”), but she finally backed off when she realized I wouldn’t engage.
Now that I was privy to this form of competition though, I noticed it everywhere. Being a bloggger, and more so a “Mommy blogger,” as most would call it, I started seeing it in the comments of my friends’ blogs, in Twitter conversations, and especially on Facebook. And I kind of hated it.
By nature I’m a slightly competitive person. I grew up playing sports and yeah, I like to win. It’s easy to get sucked into competition with others, and if you’re a Mom, you may have noticed it started way back when you were pregnant. With social media seeping it’s way into so many corners of our world, it’s hard not to see someone else and compare. Pregnant women talk about how much or how little weight they’ve gained, if they’ve dared to eat sushi or maybe have a glass of wine, if they plan on natural childbirth or medicated. It’s easy to judge, and to start to feel inadequate when comparing yourself to everyone else.
Now that Henry is 20 months old, it’s a whole new world of mom-petition. And I’ve decided that the best way to offset these (annoying) women is to just give them what they want– the ego stroke, the coddle, the pat on the back. Sometimes though it’s hard. There have been many times I’ve wanted to step up to the plate to bat for my kid in this non-existent game of “Who’s the Better Mom/Best Kid Ever/etc. etc.” But outside of getting into the mom-petition ring and throwing down baby stats, there are some things that have worked for me when faced with a crazy mama.
1. Combat the mom-petition with a compliment. “Oh wow, Lila was potty trained by 12 months? That’s just awesome, you’re a great Mom.” (Even though you’d rather say something along the lines of, you’re a liar and a weirdo, I don’t care about your kid’s potty training time line.) But with the compliment there’s not really anywhere else to go, and it kind of stops the other Mom in her tracks. My challenge here though, is fighting off the sarcastic edge that often threatens to come through.
2. Lie for fun. “Oh wow, Lila was potty trained by 12 months? My Henry was potty trained from hmm, I guess it was 9 months. The doctor said she’d never seen anything like it. I can give you some tips if you’d like, for your next slow potty-trainer.” This one isn’t a good idea whatsoever, but at least it’s entertaining.
3. Be honest, and ask for tips. Then shut it down (or prepare to be there for hours). “Oh wow, Lila was potty trained by 12 months? Henry definitely isn’t even close yet. What were some things that worked for you?” This method is awesome, but it’s a slippery slope, because more often than not, Mom-petitive Mommies love to give advice. If you take a step in that direction you may have gotten on an advice train you can’t really get off of, so tread carefully.
Overall though, just know that women who feel the need to engage in mom-petition have always been the type to be competitive with others. In high school I’m sure they wanted to be the #1 whatever it was they were, after high school it was the same, and now they can channel their hidden yet obvious insecurities into attempting to make themselves feel like the better mom by one-upping you. Whether it’s bragging that their four-year old still breastfeeds, wearing their kid’s early teething like a medal, or even making sure you know that they are more stressed out and tired than you, it’s going to happen. The best thing you can do is do is just realize that you are doing what’s best for your baby, and you don’t need anyone else’s validation to do so.
*This one of the many pieces I'll be re-sharing here over the next year. This originally published on Hello Giggles, but since I am not writing for them anymore, it's important to me to have all of my writing in one place. If this is the second time you've seen this, I hope you didn't mind too much! Thank you for reading!