5 ways to change mompetition to true motherhood
I’m not sure how it had started, but there I was in the middle of a circle of women, all who kept trying to top the other baby’s developmental milestone. “Sarah might be gifted, she’s trying to form sentences and is only 6 months. Has Laila shown any signs of talking now?”
I didn’t know what else to do except be honest and said, “Well she can roar deeply like a lion and just laughs a lot. We’re all just happy where we are.” With a smug look, she looked at Laila who was pulling out grass instead of playing with the million toys this woman had laid out and replied, “Well that sound must be cute.”
Then another mom chimed in, “Well Jack is way beyond the curve physically, he’s been lifting his head for almost 32 seconds at a time.”
I looked around wondering when I could talk about breast-feeding or ask for different baby food recipe ideas. I was mortified that this was what bonding time with other moms was turning into.
Instead of an ocean of support from my community mommas, I had found a mompetition pond.
That was back when my daughter was only 5 months old and I never went back to that group. Luckily, I have friends I trust to talk to and shortly after that incident, had found a group that totally feels supportive…and of course, I always had my chai mommas;)
But mompetition is not unique to just my experience. It’s already in Urban Dictionary as “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.”
And a year later, as I look back at all the mothers I have met and conversations I have had, I wonder why mompetition is so prominent.
In many countries of Africa, South America and communities of India, women raise their children together, often as a collective rather than individually. And while that isn’t conducive to our western frame, isn’t the concept of mothers sticking together one that can only be fruitful in any community?
I read that in a survey by Parenting.com of 26,000 moms asked, they found that nearly 90 percent of American mommas judge other moms, for everything from breast-feeding habits to bratty kids.
As one mom said in the survey: “motherhood is a competition nobody meant to enter.”
Really?!! When I think of motherhood, I think of the meaningful connection between child and parent, the nurturing and supportive role we all take on, yet also the learning and the intuitive ways we find what works for our families.
It’s about being present, about accepting love and unconditionally sharing your heart, even in the hardest of times.
We all feel this, even the competitive moms, but it’s how we as moms choose to play the game of raising babies.
I realized if I want to raise my child in a mindful way, I have to surround myself with others who agree and be mindful of my own actions.
So it means NOT engaging in a never-ending mompetition match of whose child is the smartest…(which in the moment, can be hard!).
Here’s 5 ways I found I can focus on real connections with fellow like-minded women rather than moms who wish to compare. These tips also invite competition convos to turn into true mommy bonding ones instead:
1. Let the competitive mom “win”. If she says, “Jill can recite the alphabet in 6 languages,” simply say “Wow that’s awesome, you must so proud.” Let her continue and be proud of her child. It takes two people for a competition, so reacting with joy at your friend’s baby’s achievement will keep the situation from turning into something more. If it does get to be too much, you can always change the subject. “She knows French? That reminds me of that cute little French bakery in town…”
2. Genuinely complement other moms on what you notice. I’m not talking about just noticing a nice haircut, I mean if you see that she has a great way of teaching her kid to be respectful on the playground, tell her. Reflecting on the good in other moms steers away from judging, plus opens the doors for kindness rather than jealousy or comparison.
3. If you are having trouble with something as a momma, talk about it. That’s what a community of mothers is about. By showing your vulnerability, you are allowing other moms in, seeking advice on something you had missed or weren’t sure of, and letting other moms know it’s okay to be in that spot. It’s okay NOT to know what to do all the time. This is authentic communication with your girlfriends rather than hiding anything.
4. Surround yourself with like-minded women. You can try to change the convo and steer it as many times as you can, but know your boundaries and live in your truth. If a group of women never makes you feel good or happy, they are not the people you or your child should be around.
5. Keep in mind that every child is different, that your child’s development has nothing to do with your parenting. Even the experts agree, go ahead, ask your pediatrician if every child looks and acts exactly the same. Some kids talk at 11 months, some don’t walk until 14 months. How fast your child picks up something has nothing to do with how good of a parent you are.
Just do your best, be yourself and let your kids do their best and be themselves.
Do you have any mompetition stories to share?