Mompetition

There was never any question that once Gus was born, I would be a stay at home mom. It didn’t seem right to give my child to someone else to care for while I went and spent my days with other people’s children. I was able to find an online teaching gig which allowed me to be able to be at home with Gus without having to become a one income family. Granted, it made my life more difficult as I had to work and be a full time mom, but it was how I wanted it.

It didn’t take me long to figure out I could not stay in the house with Gus all day long. I was just not cut out for it. For decades my life had consisted of constant activity and being busy. Even when I’m at my house, I don’t sit still. I am the kind of person who always has to be doing something. A small space filled with me and my son for hours on end for days was a type of isolation I hadn’t expected and certainly wasn’t prepared for.

I had to have other mothers around me. I don’t know how previous generations did it. I don’t remember my mom having any other mom friends that she hung out with in the neighborhood. It was just her and she seemed completely content with it. Maybe it’s another thing that separates our generation from previous generations. All I know is that there is no way I could survive my life without other mothers in it.

I know there are mothers out there who spend a significant amount of time at their house and stay pretty isolated from others. They seem happy enough living that way, but I just can’t do it. I love hanging out and spending time with Gus, but I also love hanging out and spending time with grown-ups. I like to have adult conversations. I like to hang out with people who don’t start to cry if I tell them they can’t do something. I like to spend time with others who actually stop doing what they are doing when I tell them no. In addition, it is comforting and nice to know I am not the only mom out there. It gets lonely and I need social support. Some people can be a mom on their own, but I just can’t.

Hanging out with other moms is similar to going to an AA meeting.  One of the main reasons people attend AA meetings is simply for the social support. There is something strangely comforting about hearing other people tell their own horror stories that makes you feel better about your own. Recovering alcoholics’ eyes light up when other alcoholics share their stories about the terrible things they did while they were drinking. I have seen the same light sparkle in mothers’ eyes when another mom shares something terrible she’s said, thought, or done.  You find yourself relaxing a bit and realizing you are not the only one making mistakes and feeling like a failure.

Yet, I am continually disturbed at the amount of competition that exists among mothers. So many times I feel as if I have been thrust back into high school. The competition this time around is centered on trying to prove you are a great mother, you are the best wife, you love your life the most, and you are the happiest.  In addition to the mother component, you must prove your kid is the smartest, the happiest, the most well behaved, and most well adjusted. The competition is unbelievable. And so unnecessary. And unbearable at times.

I have found myself getting sucked into it, but for the most part, I am in the crowd but opt out of the competition.  I conceded the title of being the best mother a long time ago. Gus may be extremely bright but no one would ever mistake him for the best behaved. And I’m pretty sure no one is nominating me for the greatest mom on the planet. And the best wife? Not even close.

I wonder what happens when you win the titles… Is there an annual banquet each year that I don’t know about? Who’s responsible for the nominations? Anyone know?

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18 Responses to Mompetition

  1. TheCheekyKea says:

    I have heard of the phenomenon but I’ve never really had to face it. I live in a self imposed isolation because I don’t have enough confidence to make friends. In some ways it’s perfect for me, because I don’t have to deal with those types of scenarios and because I would never be able to keep the house clean if I had do to coffee visits. I know of other mums that just never seem to be at home and I’m baffled at how they can keep up! Still, I do feel like there must be something I’m missing out on, and it would be nice to have someone to swap babysitting duties with.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comment. Sometimes I wish that I was more of a homebody, but it’s just not me. Where do you find yourself going for social support?

  2. Jessica says:

    Totally agree with you and I had the competition vs. support that should be happening among moms. I do notice though that the ones who compete the most are usually the ones who are most unsure of themselves.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jessica. I think you are right about the confidence part playing a huge role. I also think it shows how competitive women can be with each other in general. I don’t really see this phenomenon occurring with the fathers I know.

  3. Kat says:

    Thanks so much! I swear I love this blog.

    I myself feel a lot of the time I’m surrounded by these perfect mothers and they’re going to figure me out. They know how to talk to their children when I don’t, etc.

    I started a mommy group for moms of babies born in 2010 in West LA because I wanted to meet other moms. With a then 9 year old at home all my friends had older kids or no kids and when my daughter was my sons age I was a work-a-holic. Had to be to support my husband through school. So now I’m thrust into being a Stay at home Mommy and I felt so alone……I didn’t feel any better starting the group.

    I’ve found that I had to one day say “Who cares what they think of me” and I’ve got a small core group of friends with toddlers, tweens, and nada and I’m happy. If I meet a mom and we click it’s a bonus. I am always so self conscious that trying to make mommy friends drove me crazy and now I still have the group, attend what I can, set up what I can, but I don’t feel pressure to be anything I’m not to “Get them to like me”

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Kat. I swear I love writing this blog:) I had no idea what I would be up against when I stepped into this mommy world. Thankfully, I’m at a place where I’ve got a few who I’ve really connected with over the years and I hold tight to those relationships. Mostly, because I don’t want to have to go out there again and start the whole process over again.

  4. Kyra says:

    The competition is real, and I’ve certainly encountered quite a bit of it (especially since my son has become a toddler), but I’ve never had a problem finding plenty of moms who aren’t looking to compete, and who are up front about being less than perfect themselves. – This is a good thing because as a less-than-perfect parent of less-than-perfect kids, the support I get from other moms is invaluable! The competitive moms get a lot of attention, but I think those moms that are honest about their work-in-progress-parenting are much more common. Or maybe it’s just my neighborhood?

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kyra. Thankfully, there are as you said admitted “less than perfect parents”. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a few that I can really connect with. I hold onto these sooooo tightly.

  5. Diane says:

    WOW, Heather…nice blog. After waiting to be parents for almost 9 years , I couldn’t imagine being anything other than a stay-at-home mom once we got them. I did daycare to make a living. It worked out well, but there are definately advantages and disadvantages. We thought for sure that we knew everything about parenting by then. We’d had lots of practice with other people’s kids….LOL One things is for sure, parenting gives you a new perspective on your own parents. I look forward to reading more and subscribed. (We are friends of your folks from K-M) Greetings!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comment, Diane! It’s so funny how we think we know so much about kids until we have them ourselves. And then we really learn the deal:) Hope to see you back soon!

  6. Keesha says:

    Thanks for your comment on my mompetition article. It really is something isn’t it? And it can happen anywhere and out of nothing. I am always surprised how it happens so easily with strangers. Also, the more I think about it, I have to say, Dads are not immune either. I don’t know how they are with each other, but I’ve met some Dads who made sure I knew that their child was destined for greatness while mine were bound for say, the welfare rolls.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Keesha. The stranger thing is amazing, huh? I don’t know about the dads…Maybe it is because my son is still young enough where the dads are just finally starting to figure out what’s going on. I can see them getting a bit more competitive when the kids get older.

  7. Penny says:

    I agree its a hard group to mix in, as my good friend says, when you become a mother you put your CV on your forehead for everyone to see. I also agree with others that you really need a couple of excellent friends that you can be completely honest in front of. As for heading out and about,I think its a bit of a “seasonal” thing. I know I went out heaps when my first was portable, then when number 2 and 3 arrived, suddenly it was easier to be at home than be out and about. Now I am getting to a place where its easier to be out and its great and the public shaming incidents have lessoned somewhat…. .

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comments, Penny. I look forward to the days when the public shaming incidents decrease:)

  8. Julie says:

    Hi there! I’m new to the blog as I’m also new to being a parent- well, not quite there yet. I’m 8 days overdue and scheduled to be induced this Monday. I know I’m probably overdoing it when it comes to all the internet info I’ve been soaking up over the past months, but blogs like these can be really helpful when it comes to getting a glimpse of how other mothers do it.

    This entry really spoke volumes to me as it’s something that I’ve been thinking about A LOT in how I plan on raising my child. I’ve always been kind of a homebody. I’m comfortable at home and when I do go on social outings, it’s usually with my boyfriend or mother or a few close friends that I have. One of the major reasons for this is that there’s competition in EVERYTHING in life, not just parenting (although I can see how that would be a big one), especially with other women. Who has the best clothes, the best boyfriend, the best everything. And I don’t like getting involved in that aspect of life. But I’m not sure if staying in with my daughter all the time will be healthy for her. I don’t want to raise her sheltered. My mother didn’t do that with me, but she DID do it with my sister who’s ten years younger than I am. So I know that my decisions that keep me at home most of the time came from my own life experiences. My sister on the other hand, doesn’t have much life experience and also isn’t the most social but that’s because she’s unsure of herself and other people in the world. It’s going to take a lot for me to break outside of my comfort zone, but I plan on making every effort to do so. I may not end up being the greatest mother in the world- that’s not the goal- but I *do* want my child to be able to experience life from all angles, make mistakes and great accomplishments- and to be able to form her own opinions about what the world has to offer.

    I know I haven’t even given birth yet :) And I know things don’t always go the way you plan them, but at least I have some goals in mind for what kind of parent I will ideally be. Now it’s just a matter of whether or not I can stick to it.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Ugh…I remember being overdue. I was two weeks overdue with Gus. I ended up having to be induced as well. I had so many plans for my “perfect birth” and of course, none of them went as I wanted them to. I say now that it was a perfect predictor for parenting:) I’m glad you found the blog. I hope you keep coming back. There are some really fabulous women here in the blogosphere. Hopefully, you won’t read this for a long time because you are busy giving birth:)

  9. Melissa says:

    Hey! I got your blog from the babble comment lol, not a stalker I’m always looking for local mommies because lets face it LA is a world of its own. I am in Beverly Hills so not too far from you. I am now following. Love the post!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Melissa. Yes, L.A is like living in an alternate universe. I am in Weho.

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