Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The One With "Mompetition"

Mompetition:  The one-up rivalry that moms play making their child seem better, smarter, and/ or more advanced than yours. May involve two or more moms and any number of children, even full-grown. [from UrbanDictionary]
In the world of parenting, I am a noob.  You'd think now that Little Man is four, I'd have achieved a moderately higher rank by now.  But alas, I have only one child.  And he is only four.  And I am *gasp* a young mom.  Only 26.   I mean, my kid is alive now... but from all the unsolicited advice and thinly veiled threats, I wake up every morning thinking Child Services might be staked out in front of my house waiting for me to make a wrong move.
Why is that?!  Purely rhetorical.  I know why I feel like a parenting noob.  Because of those Other Moms.  You know them.  Gwenyth Paltrow (check out GOOP if you're particularly sadistic).  Giada DeLaurentis.  Even just a random Facebook friend.  Wait a minute... not "even just" a random Facebook friend.  Ninety percent of my mom guilt comes from self-righteous Facebook mommies.

Contrary to what the term "Facebook friend" implies, we all know that some of your "friends" are most certainly not friends.  Some of them are co-workers.  Or people you know through your significant other.  Ex-classmates.  The list is endless.  Sometimes I feel really ambitious and try to whittle down the list of people I don't really give a crap about.  And somehow I get about ten or so people in and I'm exhausted.  And then in the next few days a couple of these people refriend me with confusion and I just give up.
One of the toughest groups to ignore read on Facebook are the MOMS.  Not that I want to ignore all of them!  Your babies are cute.  Look at that one covered in spaghetti.  Aw, a cat hugging a baby!  The cuteness explodes my Newsfeed and I comment on each picture like it is my job.
But there are the others.  The ones who inform me that every.single.thing. I have ever done to keep my child alive to raise my son is absolutely wrong. 
Status Update: "Little Man ate grapes today for the first time!  I can't believe he ate a fruit! I AM A GREAT MOM!"
Mom #1:  LAWL that is so cute!  I hope they were organic locally grown grapes - you know that if they weren't he will be exposed to pesticides and chemicals and grow flippers right??
Mom#2:  Are you just now introducing grapes after four years?  I am sure you cut them in half so he didn't choke to death on them, right?!  Princess has been eating grapes for years now and we deseed them individually and cut them into quarters before they are allowed to touch her precious baby lips, just for EXTRA safety.  ;)
Possibly an exaggeration.  BUT NOT BY MUCH.  These women are merely annoying.  I can usually roll my eyes at this kind of Mompetition response because well... I let my kid eat bread off the floor when he drops it.  And sometimes I look over at him and I'm not even sure what he's found in the couch cushions.  I assume it is some more of that bread.  I've never heard a news story where a kid dies because his mom did not buy him organic grapes.  I've only heard that one news story where someone almost died from a steady diet of chicken nuggets.  So these kind of "one-up" comments from Moms are just something I sigh and chuckle about and remind myself to block them from my Newsfeed ignore it.
The ones that are hard to ignore and get my feathers all ruffled are the ones where someone leaves feeling genuine guilt and sometimes fear because of the way they have been raising their child. Not doing extended breastfeeding?  Your child will never get into college.  Not breastfeeding at all?  Sacrilege, your child's every illness is your own stupid fault.  Your child is sleeping on her tummy?   Do you have a death wish!?!?!
Heated debates on everything from attachment parenting to infant circumcision fill up my Newsfeed at least once a week.  Everyone seems to know exactly how children should be raised, and God forbid you disagree or... *second gasp of the day* DID IT WRONG!  Don't worry, 100 other mothers (and most have never met your child) will tell you how badly you've messed up.  And in the meantime, remind you how they've done it right.
Its just so ridiculous it makes my blood boil.  When I say I didn't breastfeed my son, and that I probably won't be breastfeeding future children, you'd think that I was advertising my intent to set their cribs on fire.   And I feel so guilty. (For like a minute.  Don't worry too hard.)  These moms make it their goal to make you feel unbelievably shitty for something you may or may not have control over.  And they feel justified in doing so because we've created this culture of mompetition, where every mom has to be the BEST mom or they're not doing it right.  If you're not homeschooling, feeding them organic meals three times a day, teaching them Chinese, and making sure they are reading above grade level then you're a failure.  And you BEST have lost that baby weight six weeks after your little precious came into this world, don't even get me started on moms who "don't care about their physical appearance."
There are not nearly enough moms who support each other, who lift each other up, who try to understand different points of view.  I don't need to be educated on how to be a mother.  We've read the same articles, the same books, and heard the same stories.  I'm living motherhood.   Every day is a crash course in parenting, from the one little person whose opinion will matter in about twenty years when he is reflecting on the job I did.   When I mention I am doing XYZ with my son, its not so you can tell me what I'm doing wrong.   Its probably because I think a really funny story is about to come out of this.  If "I'm right and you're wrong" is all you can think of to say, then keep your lips zipped.  You can come give me that opinion in twenty years too actually.  If he's living in my basement building pipe bombs, then remind me I should have breastfed him and given him more organic vegetables.  Maybe then I'll agree with you.  My prediction though, is that he will be a happy and well adjusted person who thinks I'm the greatest mom ever.  And he probably won't even mention all the times I let him eat bread from under the couch cushions.


  1. This is the BEST post I have read in a long time! Everything you wrote rang so true to me. Even over here, on the other side of the world, the "mompetition" is in full swing. And it amazes me, that at a time in a woman's life when we probably need the most support from each other, we compete. It's awful. Thank you for writing so honestly, I loved it! :)

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it - and I most definitely agree with you!