Friday, October 8, 2010

"Mompetitors" At The Playground

I saw this video the other day on a blog I like called Perfectly Disheveled and laughed so hard because I think we all know that mom who does everything "right"; she is so sure that her way is best and somehow makes you feel as though you are the worst parent ever when you admit to popping in a Dora video or when you open up your kid's lunch box to reveal *gasp* goldfish crackers! Don't we all know those moms who brag about everything from how their newborn sleeps through the night to the organic vegetables they grow in the backyard? Women who engage in this type of one up-manship have come to be known as "Mompetitors" and the behavior is both ridiculous and hard to avoid being affected by.

It feels as though there's enormous pressure that comes along with being a parent these days. After watching this video I thought to myself: don't we all have just a little bit of that overachiever, self-righteous mom in us from time to time? Just the other day I was at one of those indoor playgrounds, escaping the unexpected October SoCal rain, and saw a mom glued to her Blackberry the entire time her 7-year old daughter ran around intimidating and bossing around the other kids. I judged a bit. And then there are times when I judge myself so harshly because I can't live up to some unattainable standard I've set for myself. The more information I obtain and the more knowledge I have about how I can help my kids grow up to be happy, satisfied, self-actualized people, the more I see the areas in which I am lacking and the more guilty I feel. This recent article in the The Huffinton Post talks about learning how to tell the difference between Mommy Guilt and Mommy Wisdom.

We've all got a tough inner critic--a mean-spirited, lying voice inside our heads that judges us, tells us we are likely to fail and compares us unfavorably to the people in our midst.   If you are a mom, the inner critic likely sometimes shows up via Mommy Guilt -- through persistent critiques about how you are falling short in your mothering. Maybe it declares you don't spend enough time with the kids, or earn enough to give them all they deserve. Maybe it harps on you about not packing the lunches or pureeing the baby food or having a happier marriage for your kids to see...Then there's Mommy Wisdom. Mommy Wisdom speaks in a different voice and it comes from a different place in you. Mommy Wisdom brings you important information about what your kids need, what you need, and where something in your parenting needs course correcting.
I think if I am able to be still and not listen to that very loud inner critic, I can tune in to my "Mommy Wisdom". But that requires a lot of effort when you're not used to doing it. And, as a mother of twins, it is quite easy to fall into the "mompetition" habit. As the mother in the video says "Well, I have a 5-year old, a 1-year old and a 2-year old, so it is just like twins"; there is nothing more annoying to a parent of twins than to be told this; and the urge to describe, in great detail, why multiple children of different ages is nothing like twins is a hard one to resist. But why do we do need to compare whose life is harder/better/more complicated? Is it to be known? Is it to feel better about ourselves? Is it to assuage guilt about something we fear we're lacking? Is it because some women who, up until the birth of their children and a decision to stay home and raise them, have been so used to competing in the work force now don't know how to shut that instinct off? 

And so we have guilt, competition, insecurity and judgment; none of which make us better parents. I often tell clients that there is so much information out there about how to raise our children, there really is no one right way to do anything; you simply need to choose what works best for your family. What's the use in comparing? None of us is the same, none of us has the same family structure or genetic makeup or personal history so how can we judge fairly? As the old adage goes, how can you compare apples to oranges?

What struck me as the most interesting part of this video was how much times have changed. When I was a child, my hippie parents' way of thinking was considered radical. These days, it's almost as if it's the parent who follows a more "old school" way of child rearing (following the AMA vaccination schedule, allowing children to watch TV etc.) who feels the pressure to get with the program! Does the person on the side of "the establishment" feel the need to abandon their mainstream ways when faced with pressure about cloth diapers and homemade babyfood? Or does comparing your parenting methods just lead to polarizing people? The video I posted is titled "Why I Can't Make Mom Friends"; It seems to me that accepting that we are all doing our best in each moment is key to eliminating this strange playground "Mompetitor" ritual thus allowing us all to simply enjoy our children and to enjoy parenting. And after my last post, I think that's really where my focus is these days.

Thanks for reading!
The Twin Coach

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1 Great Comments Made By Clicking Here!:

J-Ko From The Block said...

Great post! Thanks for shout out!

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