Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The competition of motherhood

Dare I say it?
"Who me? I'm not competitive!"

Since I'm all about honesty, especially here, I'll be the first to admit it. Not only am I competitive, I'm competitive about motherhood. I don't know why. I wasn't raised that way. I'm not surrounded by competitive people. It's not even a competition!!

But as K learns new words everyday, and does cool things, and I read about the age range of developmental markers, I can't help but feel good. Not smug, or righteous, let's be clear, but I feel like I'm in the game and doing a pretty good job of mothering.

Then I hear about friends feeling like they are losing in the game. And I feel ashamed. 1) Because I'm even thinking about it as a game, and 2) because I perpetuate the culture of "better than" when I really just want to feel accomplished at SOMETHING.

So it's a weird paradox. I don't want to hide my pride and excitement at K's cool developments and I don't want to encourage mamas (by my pride and excitement) to feel less than about any mishaps they have endured (for whatever reason).

Then it can kinda go in the opposite direction where I downplay anything that K does that I find amazing (he signs and says dog, and also recognizes them in real life and in books and makes the sound a dog makes...which isn't the onomatopoeia of "woof" but the actual sound he hears dogs make) so that no one thinks I am gloating about my kid. God forbid I'm proud of my kid for doing cool things.

Where is the balance? 

And sometimes, K does stuff that I had no hand in, but I still feel proud...because I think that's normal. He's beautiful and I'm happy about that. He's content, and I'm happy about that, too. He's social and doesn't cry (yet?) when he is cared for by others and I'm relieved about that. I don't want to take credit (maybe he was born that way), but I also don't want to make like it's nothing. Being social and easily consoled IS amazing! I love it!

Judgment and competition go hand in hand, it seems. When I see someone doing something I wouldn't do, I immediately want to justify/explain why I wouldn't do that, and why my decision NOT to do that works for me. Now that I am a mom, I find that I hear so many different (successful) ways to do things and now my immediate thought is shifting to "That seems to work for them, it just doesn't work for me."

This allows us to both be right, to both win, and it allows me to carry on, without dwelling on who's winning, anyway.

Seeing other moms feel like they are losing, affects me too. I hate that people I LOVE are feeling badly about experiences they've had, things they've done, said, or thought, and results that are less than ideal, especially regarding parenthood. I don't want to be that mom who judges. I want to offer help (if asked) and support.

No one wins in a competition of motherhood. We're all moms. Period. That's about as far as it needs to go. Competition helps no one.

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