VideosMy Baby Is The Best Baby In The Whole World. (On Mom-petition)Danielle Hampton

There I was, ready to work out. I had on my yoga pants, my sneakers laced up, 14-week old Henry was sound asleep in his stroller.  I was pumped to be exercising again, and I loved that for the past few weeks I had been able to attend our local YMCA’s “Mommy and Me,” aka Stoller Bootcamp, aka World ‘o Mom-petition. The first classes had gone well and without anything notable happening (if you don’t count getting my shoelace stuck in the wheel of another woman’s stroller. Yeah.). But then, out of the blue, Mrs. My-Baby-Is-The-Number-One-Baby-Ever decided she wanted to be buddies.

It started out innocently enough; small talk, quick chats while we pushed our babies around the gym in their strollers. “Oh, what does your husband do?” “Do you miss teaching?” “Do you plan on having more kids?” I didn’t mind the chatter too much. It’s not like this was an extremely grueling workout– I mean, we were pushing strollers– so it was a nice break in the monotony of working out in the same half-gymnasium, three days a week.

Then, one unassuming Wednesday morning, it began. I mentioned something in regards to how Henry had been sleeping well recently, and what an amazing thing it’s been getting a full seven hours of sleep in a row. “WELL MY BABY SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT FROM DAY ONE, EVEN BEFORE SHE WAS BORN, LIKE IN MY BELLY SHE WOULD SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. SHE SLEEPS ALL DAY TOO, JUST SO YOU KNOW. YEAH, SHE’S THE BEST SLEEPER EVER.”

Um.

I responded with a “Good, great! That’s wonderful,” and pushed my stroller a little faster so she’d maybe get the hint that one, I didn’t care to compete with her, and two, it’s really weird to yell full sentences at someone when you’re right next to them.

As the next few weeks went by, the mom-petitiveness escalated (I learned that her baby was well on its way to being fluent in sign language and Spanish, could pee on command, and was on the road to becoming a little “Doogie Howser”), but she finally backed off when she realized I wouldn’t engage.

Now that I was privy to this form of competition though, I noticed it everywhere. Being a bloggger, and more so a “Mommy blogger,” as most would call it, I started seeing it in the comments of my friends’ blogs, in Twitter conversations, and especially on Facebook. And I kind of hated it.

By nature I’m a slightly competitive person. I grew up playing sports and yeah, I like to win. It’s easy to get sucked into competition with others, and if you’re a Mom, you may have noticed it started way back when you were pregnant. With social media seeping it’s way into so many corners of our world, it’s hard not to see someone else and compare. Pregnant women talk about how much or how little weight they’ve gained, if they’ve dared to eat sushi or maybe have a glass of wine, if they plan on natural childbirth or medicated. It’s easy to judge, and to start to feel inadequate when comparing yourself to everyone else.

Now that Henry is 7 months old, it’s a whole new world of mom-petition. And I’ve decided that the best way to offset these (annoying) women is to just give them what they want– the ego stroke, the coddle, the pat on the back. Sometimes though it’s hard. There have been many times I’ve wanted to step up to the plate to bat for my kid in this non-existent game of “Who’s the Better Mom/Best Kid Ever/etc. etc.” But outside of getting into the mom-petition ring and throwing down baby stats, there are some things that have worked for me when faced with a crazy mama.

1. Combat the mom-petition with a compliment. “Oh wow, Lila was potty trained by 12 months? That’s just awesome, you’re a great Mom.” (Even though you’d rather say something along the lines of, you’re a liar and a weirdo, I don’t care about your kid’s potty training time line.) But with the compliment there’s not really anywhere else to go, and it kind of stops the other Mom in her tracks. My challenge here though, is fighting off the sarcastic edge that often threatens to come through.

2. Lie for fun. “Oh wow, Lila was potty trained by 12 months? My Henry was potty trained from hmm, I guess it was 9 months. The doctor said she’d never seen anything like it. I can give you some tips if you’d like, for your next slow potty-trainer.” This one isn’t a good idea whatsoever, but at least it’s entertaining.

3. Be Honest, and ask for tips. Then shut it down (or prepare to be there for hours). “Oh wow, Lila was potty trained by 12 months? Henry definitely isn’t even close yet. What were some things that worked for you?” This method is awesome, but it’s a slippery slope, because more often than not, Mom-petitive Mommies love to give advice. If you take a step in that direction you may have gotten on an advice train you can’t really get off of, so tread carefully.

Overall though, just know that women who feel the need to engage in mom-petition have always been the type to be competitive with others. In high school I’m sure they wanted to be the #1 whatever it was they were, after high school it was the same, and now they can channel their hidden yet obvious insecurities into attempting to make themselves feel like the better mom by one-upping you. Whether it’s bragging that their two-year old still breastfeeds, wearing their kid’s early teething like a medal, or even making sure you know that they are more stressed out and tired than you, it’s going to happen. The best thing you can do is do is just realize that you are doing what’s best for your baby, and you don’t need anyone else’s validation to do so.

How about you? Have you ever experienced competition on a Mommy level? What have you done to deflect it? Or do you hop right in the saddle and mom-pete away?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

 

Danielle Hampton is a high school English teacher turned stay-at-home Mom, living the small town life in Arizona. She blogs daily at Sometimes Sweet and tweets too much via @danihampton.

 

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  1. Wow! When I got cornered by one of those moms I just listened, smiled and nodded. I felt like they have other issues or insecurities going on. I never really got on with the other moms because I was considerably younger, single, and had a job. I didn’t knit, do crafts, cook or drive a minivan. They would complain about the Pink song the girls were dancing to and I would comment, “Oh I love that song! I just bought the CD!” OK, that one was on purpose. :) My girl is in college now and happy so I must have done something right. BTW… that video is HILARIOUS!

  2. YOU SPEAK MY LANGUAGE MAMA!!! the toughest part of mom-petion is when its a sister-in-law who always gloats how perfect her child is…still figuring how to deal with that one. I am a mom of twin boys that so obviously I can tell how, even-though they are both my kids, same age- they develop so differently even get sick at different times and act totally different so its not about what i did or did not do- its nature!!!

  3. Dani! This is great!!! We’ve talked about this extensively and yes it’s exhausting and unfortunately inevitable in this fast paced, I’m-proving-my worth-out-loud world. Your tips were great. Stay true who you are, realize half of the statements are over inflated and lies and through it all you will find your true core group of friends that don’t give a poo about that stuff either! :)) xxoo

  4. I agree completely. I find it easier to ignore, nod along and smile at the appropriate points. I don’t have any Mom friends, mainly because where I live it’s all a mom-petition, all of their children were speaking full setences in the womb, sleeping 13 hours a night from birth and potty trained at six months. I just can’t compete with my wonderfully right on-track sublimely normal toddler, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able remove mmyself from the race, even if it’s a bit lonely without Mom friends.

  5. Mrs. My-Baby-Is-The-Number-One-Baby-Ever. This is SO funny. I love this article! Made me laugh and I love the brutal honesty :)

  6. I love that I now have a new way of describing all the moms I meet who are constantly trying to one up each other! I (obviously) think my baby is just about the most brilliant, fantastic, and amazing creature ever to grace the planet. But isn’t that the point of being a parent? Why do I need to try to convince everyone else of that, too? It’s so important to remember that every mom is doing her best and trying to figure things out in her own way – we don’t need to stress each other out!
    And if all else fails, I totally think that option #2 sounds awesome – go for the lie!!

  7. I was fully prepared to face this sort of thing when my mothers group first started up. My baby was only four weeks old, had reflux (undiagnosed, so I had no idea why she was crying all the time) and I was completely shell-shocked by the whole ‘becoming a parent’ thing.
    What I found was a group of first time mums in the same boat as me! They were all non-judgmental, forgiving, lovely ladies and I look forward to catching up with them each week (our babies are six months old now).
    Some of the babies are good at eating, others are good at sleeping, or crawling, or crying! They all have something different. After reading this, I know how lucky I am to have such a supportive group of mums to hang out with. I think if I was in your situation, I would have slapped the woman! Well done for acting so maturely!

  8. i read this article thinking “oh my, i hope i don’t sound like that.” but usually its another mom who starts the competitive game & my response is always just being truthful. i like talking about my girls in the bad or good light. it makes them unique & i know that your child isn’t always good. i think once my girls are older & they are in honors classes & captain of whatever sport they are, that’s when i would do the mom-petition more. but for now i don’t think how old my girls started walking & pooping is too much to brag about.

  9. I accidentally posted this comment prematurely.
    Here’s the remainder of what I had to say.

    I usually find myself surrounded completely by smug and haughty, super-moms (usually these women are glorified acquaintances)or by carefree and single, child-less (these people are mostly my best friends). So it’s kind of awkward for me to even communicate sincerely with either group of people. However my experiences in the past with other young moms is always very bittersweet. I lust after finding an honest and friendly relationship with at least one other mom. Because of this, even though I can see the mom-petiion train coming straight for me, hear the blaring whistle ringing in my ears, I still sincerely try to connect with these women about what my experience has been with my child. I do this because I LOVE learning and truly value diversity, and want to OBJECTIVELY compare and contrast experiences. It seems as though it’s too much of a task to undertake for most moms that I’ve come across.

    Despite all of this, I am hopeful that one day my mother “other” will come along. So, I will continue trying to engage in conversations with other young moms, and treasure the time spent with them.

  10. THANK YOU.
    Seriously.
    I am a first time mom with a full time job. My husband also works full time. So, needless to say, we are working people who need our jobs. It is so refreshing to FINALLY find an article about motherhood that I can relate to.

  11. I sometimes worry that people will think I’m Mompetitive because we do a lot of things that Mompetitive Moms do (cloth diapers, breastfeeding for the first year, Spanish class). But I don’t think those things make me a better Mom or give my kids a head start on life at all. Cloth diapers are cheaper and we’re on a budget. So’s breastfeeding, but if my kids had been bad latchers, I’d be using formula. Spanish class is just another fun activity like soccer or dance class.

    All kids are different, and sometimes the stuff that’s supposedly “best” works and sometimes it doesn’t. A good parent listens to their children and finds out what’s going to work best for them and the whole family. There’s no need to worry about what’s working for other people (though sometimes it is nice to try out advice just to see if it works).

  12. I hate mom-petition. I think the worst is when people aren’t just trying to out-do you so much as shame you. In extreme situations I get a little crazy and to make things interesting I say the unsaid things of normal mothers everywhere such as : “How the h#@$ do you get your kids to eat quinoa with feta cheese? My kids eat nothing but chicken nuggets and mac and cheese ” and “I believe in separate beds for the kids because I enjoy sexy time with my husband without the kids watching. I also vaccinate because I don’t wan’t my child to get polio. I heard it kind of sucks to have polio.” This approach quickly shuts the mom-petition down. It also feels really good to be honest and brazen.

  13. I couldn’t agree more with this article. Being the only Mom in my circle of friends, I didn’t really feel the need to be Mompetitive. I don’t even talk much about my son unless people ask. I just don’t want to be THAT Mom that goes on and on about her kid and has nothing else to offer to the conversation. Fortunately, other Moms I’ve met haven’t been Mompetitors, so this article is handy if and when I encounter those Moms when my son starts Kindergarten. I’m more of an Actions-Speak-Louder-Than-Words person, so hopefully my son’s actions will send the message out ;)