Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why Motherhood Should Not Be A Competition

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.

The secret?

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.


  1. Excellent entry - my constant refrain has been that "every mother is the world's leading expert on her own child." Because it is true. Our children are all individuals (Praise God! We like them that way!) and are *people* way before they are born, so why would we expect them to all act the same, or slap a "best" label on any one set of baby behaviors?

    An overview of how families "should" be doing it... Sleep: the best way is however everyone in the family sleeps best. Babies sleep how they will and that is what is healthy for them. I am thankful for nightwaking because it protects my babies from SIDS, btw. Language: It is good to learn to communicate with your baby, from the time they are blinking sleepily and/or squawking to the time they are writing high school essays and beyond. It will all happen when the time is right. Food: It is good to nourish your baby, and should that way be breastfeeding and should you need technical support at that, I'm so here for you with information and ideas. No matter what method, I'm here for you with support. And when your baby is ready to eat solid food (whenever that might be), do what works for your baby and family.

    I'm rambling on but it is really important to me. It is good for us to share, to see the wondrous differences and similarities in our children, but the notion that some way of being is better should be thrown overboard. My friend and I have babies born within 2 weeks of each other. (Like little Xio and India - and my little Eliza also has a cousin born within 3 months.) We DON'T COMPETE. As a result, it's *fun* to talk about how different they are, all wonderful and gifted and amazing, just like babies everywhere. So my kid can't sit up unsupported but rolled over super early... my friend's still has trouble rolling over but could sit unassisted from like 4.5 months (!), and they are just so different and it's so much fun to see! We celebrate our children, everything that they are. We do some things the same and some things different as moms - because that's what our kids need. And that's how to do it "best." What's "best" for your little individual? You are the one who knows!

  2. this was a well written, much needed post for all moms and moms-to-be!!


  3. I couldn't help but think of you and I on the last part lol! LOVED THE POST!

  4. Mandy-Thank you for your thoughful comment! So very true too that each of us is unique and that how we parent is what is best for our family.

    April-*blush* Thank you so much for saying that. Many hugs to you with your recent loss.

    Leann-I wrote that last line with you in mind!! :) You and I are complete opposite, but I never feel as if I have to "explain" myself to you or compete with you. We love each other and our friendship for what it is!! :) Thank you so much!

  5. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! I must admit that I have fallen into the trap once or twice (maybe more) in my life. It can be frustrating when you are trying your very best raising your child and in someone else's eyes it's "not good enough"; "or you are doing it wrong"; "or if only you did it this way, it would work."
    We can all learn from each other and thank you for teaching me something!!!

  6. You are so welcome Charlene! Isn't that the truth though, so many times I find myself feeling guilty for the way I have chosen to parent. I shouldn't, and neither should you. It's so much easier said then done though. We can work on it together! ;)

  7. I tell new moms at showers..."Do what works the BEST FOR YOU!!!"
    I of course know what worked(s) best for "us", we were a co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing family...BUT...I realize that not every mom wants to wear her baby, or breastfeed OR even co-sleep...AND THAT'S OK!!!
    I am grateful you wrote this's ok to be the mom you are, or want to be...I'll love you just the same :)
    I had to lay the smack down on our Pediatrician when he told me to lay my baby down at night, close the door and not come back until morning...I told him, "That may have worked for YOU 25 years ago, but that's NOT what works for us, and I didn't ask for you sleeping advice, you asked if he was sleeping through the night and I told you NO, I didn't complain about it or ask for what YOU think works best." He looked at me and said, "Well ok then."

  8. Salena-Your post made me laugh! :) But it's oh so true. So many people want to tell us how to raise our children, when really it is between us and the Lord. I too am basically a co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing mama...however, I don't mind one bit if my best friend does the opposite! That is the beauty of friendships and relationships. We are all uniquely different from each other and it makes our lives interesting to learn from each other.

  9. We pray A LOT about what we should do with our kids...and when the Lord tells us what to do, I'm confident with our decisions and choices.

  10. That is a wonderful way to put it Salena. I also think to go forward with confidence in your decision is great. So often, I have found myself being fearful of what other will think. I'm super happy that as I've had more kids, and gained confidence in where God has lead us to be, that I can not be so afraid to be "different".


Feel free to share any jewels or treasures in your comments to me. :)