The Mom Olympics

0

Are you like me? As a first time mom, and a competitive person my nature, I found myself comparing what my daughter was doing to other kids her age. Add social media to the mix and I can compare her against anyone within my social network of friends and their kids.

“Johnny is reading novels and he’s only two!”
“Mary can sign 240 words!”
“Well, Graham can say 500 words, and talk in complex sentences.”
“Elizabeth is running for class president…at preschool!”

Ok, obviously these things are ridiculous, but I’m sure you get my point and can probably think of a few mammas that fit the bill. Of course as parents, we want our kids to excel and be awesome, and sharing that is totally fine because we’re excited, right? But sometimes I feel like I’m in an SNL Kristin Wiig sketch and everyone is telling me how much better their kids, their parenting and their life is than mine.

Penelope

Is it just me?

Let’s pretend it’s not just me for the purpose of this blog. Is it possible that as moms we might be finding our identity in our children’s performances? Is it possible that we’re wrapping ourselves up in shiny paper with a bow screaming, my child’s achievement = MY achievement? 

Here’s why that’s dangerous: 1) We are our own person, just like our kids are their OWN person. 2) Our kid’s personalities and milestones are going to come out despite our parenting wins or failures, and 3) Finding our identity in our children will make us lose our identity.

I have a really good friend whose first daughter was very articulate at an extremely young age. However, her second child isn’t verbalizing much, even at two and a half. My friend didn’t do anything differently, like read less or offer less experiences. So when she gets together with other moms and they talk about how their child is talking, reading or writing, what they’re really doing is elevating themselves, through their children’s milestones. No wonder we as moms feel beat up by other moms sometimes. My friend didn’t become a totally different mom to her second child. Despite my friend’s best efforts, her child is experiencing delays. Our child’s abilities has less to do with us, and more to do with how our children are wired.

The-Mom-Olympics

I think “The Mom Olympics” begins before we’re even expecting a baby. I remember feeling competitive in wanting to be the next person to get pregnant. Everyone I knew got pregnant two and three times over. I’m still sitting here wondering (six years later) if it will ever happen, or if adoption will be the way we continue to grow our family. After pregnancy and birth, it’s mom battles of breast feeding vs. bottle feeding (G-tube feeder here), what sleeping habits are better, etc. Oh, and then there’s the food.

Another good friend of mine said she feels pressure when it comes to what her kids are eating. Food battles can turn into all out wars at home…FINE! Eat pop tarts for dinner!! While that friend is struggling with food, another brags about how their child eats only organic, and nothing in their home has high fructose corn syrup, and feeding them is a total dream (yeah, right!).

I’m a firm believer in not just sharing the positive experiences in raising your children, but the struggles as well. We don’t want to feel alone as moms and we all struggle, daily, let’s not kid ourselves. I want to foster an environment of sharing and understanding that all children are different, all parents handle their unique circumstances different, and there’s not just one right way.

I’ve seen this line of thinking come to fruition in an amazing way with my friends. After suffering a traumatic brain injury, my daughter was flung right off the milestones chart, and into a special needs category all her own. My competitive nature had to do a serious adjustment. But through the sharing of our struggles, a lot of friends (and strangers) have opened up to me, thanking me for the honesty in the parenting struggle. Special needs or not, we don’t need to compete with one another or brag so much that it pushes our fellow moms down. Let’s raise a generation of thoughtful kids who aren’t here to elbow out their peers, but rather embrace them for who they are.

And let’s not elbow our fellow moms either.

As moms, let’s take a new stand, with our arms firmly around one another’s shoulders, instead of our elbows in one another’s ribs. Let’s put our brag show aside and celebrate the highs and the lows of motherhood. Let’s end The Mom Olympics and stand on the podium together, as a team. We need one another, and our kids are watching.

Walking buddies

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here