Mompetition

I had my first small run-in with mompetition recently.  Mompetition is the term I use to define that competitive spirit some moms tend to have in comparing their children.  I’ve heard about it.  I’ve read about it.  Others have told me about it, but I didn’t actually experience it firsthand until this past weekend with my daughter.  And, you know what?  It makes me sort of chuckle.  I’m a bit surprised by that.  I thought I might be more irritated or even get a competitive feeling in my soul as well, but I didn’t.  I’m a competitive person by nature.  I like to win.  When I play games, I like to be the victor.  When I was in high school, I competed many times in music and could throw quite an attitude of superiority as I marched by with my trombone.

However, I’m not competitive outside of games.  And I’m not competitive when it comes to material possessions or my children.  I’m happy with what I have.  God has blessed me in so many ways and I feel like He’s also blessed me with contentment.  I’ve learned in dealing with a wonky bladder and chronic pain to appreciate the small things in life even more.

So when the mom of one of my daughter’s friends was bragging and being mompetive with me recently, I just smiled.  Here’s what I’ve learned: I don’t need your approval or validation to know that I’m doing well for my children.  I just don’t.  Perhaps the school system I like differs from the one you like.  That doesn’t make either of us right or wrong; that just means we’re different.  I don’t need a debate or to prove my or my children’s worth to anyone.  If you really care about us, you’ll spend time with us, get to know us and see our worth for yourself.  You’ll quickly surmise my daughter’s beauty inside and out.  You’ll see her sweet spirit, her polite manners and her super sharp brain.

I feel like this is progress.  I know it sounds weird because it was my first run-in with mompetition, but I can see how in the past when I was younger, I might have been drawn into this.  I can see how I might have worried and fretted over what another mother thought or how I could most impress her.  But now?  Now I just don’t care.  I know my kids are smart.  I know I’m making the best choices for them to the best of my ability.  And I’m 100 percent OK about it.  I also know that it really does take a village to raise a child and I have a support network in my life that I can trust to bounce ideas off of about raising my kids. I have discussions with my parents about school systems.  Our pediatrician has spotted the sharpness of my daughter and given me suggestions of programs that would work well for her.  I have mom friends with whom I share similar parenting philosophies and compare notes of how to navigate the challenges that come our way.

I don’t need to worry about random other moms or people along the way.  I feel strong to say that.  I feel empowered to say that.  And I know it’s also something that’s easy for me to say today.  This was my first run-in and since my kids are 1 and 4, I’m sure I’ll encounter more mompetition as they grow up.  I’m left trying to think of the best response.  I don’t necessarily want to engage.  I am incredibly proud of my children in every way.  I think they are brilliant in so very many ways, but I don’t want to come back with that to a mompetitor.  I don’t want to get into the one-upping conversations.  I’m thinking of things to say like, “We’re all doing what we think is best for our kids.”  I need to have lines handy and prepared because I’m an introvert and don’t think of these things very quickly in the moment they happen.  I wish I’d have had something ready during this encounter.  But, I didn’t.  And that was OK, too.

Mompetition is silly. Let's hang up the boxing gloves and support one another.

The other thing that bothers me about mompetition is that the mom who is competing is trying her best to make other children look bad or inferior.  That’s not OK.  In this situation, my daughter was off playing so she wasn’t around.  But, egads!  Who needs that?  The whole thing is just silly.  I’ve come across quite a few blog posts talking about mompetition and judgmental mothers.  I’ve speculated with some friends of mine as to whether these issues are quite as prevalent as some blogs purport.  I’m not sure.  I don’t think they are.  Of all the moms I’ve talked to and been with, this was my first encounter as such.  I’ve had many more encounters with other moms of cheering each other on, laughing over our kids’ antics and venting frustrations over things that are challenging.  I’d like to think that’s the majority of modern moms.  We’re not competing with each other; we’re surviving with each other.  It works much better that way.  We are better mothers to our children when we’re able to put aside our pride and competitive spirits and just learn from one another and commiserate from time to time.

I think those are the kind of things I’d say if I could go back in time and talk with this mom.  Because of the nature of life and our situation, I doubt I’ll see her again.  I wish she could understand that we’re not mompetitors.  We’re both doing our best.  Even if we’re mothering differently, we both still love our kids and are doing the best we can for them.  That’s all it comes down to.

Have you encountered mompetition?  How did you handle it?

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