I've been giving lots of thought lately to the dark secret that none of us moms want to admit or talk about. I've been guilty of it before, and you probably have too.
Motherhood is a competition amongst ourselves.
Oh yes, we don't like to openly talk about it or freely admit it, but it's true we compete amongst ourselves for who knows what reason. That is currently what I am trying to figure out.
It all starts when we are pregnant. Are you going for a natural birth? Do you plan on breastfeeding? We ask of the newly expectant mom. As if somehow breastfeeding and giving birth naturally make you a better mom before giving birth.
Shortly after we give birth is when the real competition begins. It's not a competition of who can dress their little girl the cutest, or whose little guy has the most name brand clothes, although I am sure those things can be a competition as well. But the competition I'm talking about is when I hear people ask me when my preemie daughter is 2 weeks old, if she is sleeping thru the night? Or how about, how often is she eating now because my child goes every 4 hours. As if my child is the same as yours and should be doing the same thing. I think not. We are all different and unique. Even as adults.
Don't believe the competition is there? Then why when I was recently teasing a new mom about my three all sleeping thru the night (which they all don't in case you were wondering) and her son should be too, did she look at me horrified and then quietly, almost guiltily tell me her son was still getting up to feed. Why the guilt?Because the competition is there. She then went on to share with me that she knows she should be following a certain nameless controversial book but that it just didn't feel natural to her. I remember as a first time mom being in her shoes and feeling the same way. Yet, fear of the competition kept me silent on the issue. I can no longer be silent. Maybe it's because I have three children now and realize more and more that what works for one mom, may not work for another. Or maybe it's because I'm sick of seeing moms be made to feel guilty because we aren't following said controversial book. Either way, I'm speaking up and saying now is the time to stop making motherhood a competition.
It's not after your daughter has potty trained before your best friend's son. It's not after my daughter learns to speak fluently in Spanish before yours. It's not once we are past the sleepless nights, and messy days. The time is now.
Listen carefully moms: We are to be each others biggest supporters!!
We should not drag each other down. Criticize each other behind the others back. Just because your son sleeps thru the night before my daughter does, does not make you a better mom. Likewise, just because my daughter was speaking in sentences at a year while yours said nothing more than mama, does not make me a better mom.
Motherhood is not a competition. The only way we are ever going to stop that is right in our own homes, in our own hearts. Let's stop acting better than the other mom who bottle feeds. Let's stop acting as if our parenting is way better than hers because our children sleep thru the night, in a crib; while she co-sleeps with hers. Let's stop judging in our hearts and criticizing the other mom who is different then us. Who parents different than us. There is no one correct way of parenting. No book, magazine article, speaker, author, etc. is going to be 100% correct for every mom out there. So stop pushing it!
Instead, let's glean a bit from that book, this from that magazine article, and did you hear about what I learned from this speaker on this? Furthermore, let's encourage one another as moms. Build one another up! After all, isn't that what motherhood should be. Shouldn't we have a team of unique, but supportive mothers to consistently back us up no matter if our choices are different from each other?
So if you happen to run into a fellow mom who mothers the complete opposite of you, don't judge her, don't compete with her, instead cherish the fact that you are both moms and have the awesome opportunity to support each other no matter how different you are. You never know, you may just become best friends despite your differences. And the beauty of friendship is that we can look past all that because in our hearts we are the same: moms.