Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Not a Contest, Competitive Mommy

I am constantly telling my kids: "It's not a contest". They compete over everything - who should get in the car first, who should get out of the car first, who gets to pick the movie, who gets to sit next to the baby, who brushes their teeth first. It never ends and it drives me crazy.

That phrase is so often on my lips that I almost spit it out at another mom recently. That’s right. I was nearly guilty of mom-on-mom snark. Do you know why? I was provoked by Competitive Mommy. Where I live this type of woman is everywhere. You can identify her easily.

Competitive Mommy comes in a couple of varieties:
Type 1: Can’t Help Herself
Type 2: The One-Upper
Type 3: The Pretend to Be Concerned
Type 4: The Soccer Stalker Mom
Type 5: Mean and Evil

Let me specify a little something. To a certain extent, we all do it. We all have moments when our kids shine and we think: “There goes the best kid EVER” and we want the world to know how proud we are. I am not talking about that. We are moms. We’re supposed to brag about our children and talk about them and their accomplishments. What Competitive Mommy does is take that very natural part of parenting and twist it to make you feel like schmidt and make herself feel better. And that sucks and should not be allowed.

Type 1: Can’t Help Herself
A lot of us at times can’t help but ask questions that maybe we shouldn’t – “can she read yet?” or “does he have a strong back stroke?” or “is she potty trained?” Sometimes it’s because we’re really interested or wondering if our own kids are keeping up with their peers. But other times it’s because we already know the answers but want to hear them anyway because they validate that we are awesome.  If that is your motivation for asking, even if you can’t help yourself – please try NOT asking these questions. Because the compulsion to compare your kids to everyone else’s is actually pretty douchey. And you may find that the only moms who want to hang out with you are other Can’t Help Herself’ers and that will quickly become a big cluster of not fun.

Also, this mom is all over Facebook. Good Lord. Block her updates. They are bound to be annoying as hell. You can be a proud mom and not make people want to Square Up and kick you in the taco (as Sue Sylvester would say).*

Moving on to…

Type 2: The One-Upper
Did you throw a great birthday party for your little dude? Then hers will be better. Ruthlessly, aggressively better. Do your kids speak French? Well hers speak French and German. Do you love your fancy phone? Well guess who just got the second generation and it’s way awesomer? I have even heard of this phenomenon occurring with getting pregnant. Because don’t think you’re going to get all the attention and fancy Baby Showers.

Why? Why would you choose to live like that? Only being happy when you’re showing someone else up? Getting pissy when someone else has or does something that you want? Why is it so hard to just be happy for other people? It’s ok to be jealous – everyone gets jealous. I for example, would really like the following: a husband who comes home early, a cleaning lady, a mom/m-i-l who lives nearby and babysits all the time for free because she loves her grandkids so much. I try not to let my occasional bouts of jealousy be yucky. I constantly remind myself how grateful I am for what I have. And how quickly something bad can happen and take all of it away.

So I have no use for the One-Upper. Suck it, Fancy French Cell Phone. I’m going to drive my smelly van to Kate’s house and drink wine from a box.

Type 3: The Pretend to Be Concerned
Have you ever had someone ask you something out of their deep and abiding concern for you or your family’s well-being, only to realize it was actually an opportunity for them to be a dick? It’s a really low and base form of competitive momm’ing. Because it’s snitchy. If you’re a first time mom, this type seems to be everywhere (often disguised as a family member) and they can really undermine your confidence.

I had variations on the following conversation with various snitch-tastic moms and thought I’d share:

“My son is not walking because he is only 9 months old. Yes, he is big for his age but he does not have a glandular problem. No, there is nothing wrong with him medically. He’s just big. 27 pounds and 28 inches tall. Yes, I am sure he’s only 9 months old. I’m not lying about his age no matter how much you seem to want to tell me that he’s “failing to thrive”. Thanks for sharing all about how yours walked at 9 months but guess what? I don’t care and please back up because I have an egg salad sandwich and I'm gonna slap you with it.”

Ok, that last part was made up. But if this has happened to you too, please know that it’s not you or your amazing kiddo that has the problem. And if you don’t believe me, read the Open Letter to Stupid People we posted, where literally hundreds of moms wrote to us about the stupid crap people have said to them. You’re fine. They suck. End of story.

Type 4: The Soccer Stalker Mom
You buy a new shirt or get a hair cut. She comments on it favorably. The next time you see her, guess who has the same shirt or haircut? You get a rare breed of dog. Guess what kind of puppy her family just got! You grow a big garden every summer, now she does too. You sew a dress for your daughter and guess who busts out the Singer? She’s not trying to one-up you. She’s trying to be you.

Friends have common interests. Friends encourage each other to do things that they can enjoy together. That’s not what I’m talking about. These are the things that when they register – “Isn’t that my shirt you’re wearing?” - get real awkward, real fast. Like awkward turtle. This is me (Lydia) we're talking about here.  I am not a fashion icon.  When some random mommy I know shows up in lavender yoga pants and freshly striped hair, it's pretty obvious that something fishy is going on. 

So if you find yourself doing this, please oh please stop. If you find someone doing this to you, it's perfectly fine to pretend you have contracted an infectious disease that prevents you from spending time with her.

Type 5: The Mean and Evil
Let’s be honest. There are bad people out there. There are some mommies who are so competitive that they will actually try and sabotage another child’s opportunity to succeed in order to enhance their own. It’s never happened to my family, but I’ve seen it and it made me sick.

A mom went whining and complaining to a coach that it’s not fair that so-and-so made the tennis team because she didn’t deserve to be on it. That girl was 12 years old and she almost got kicked off the team. You were trying to hurt and disappoint a little girl so that your daughter might get more playing time? Lady, you have issues. Nothing justifies that kind of behavior. If you see this rare and pernicious type of CM – run, Forrest, RUN.  And if you are this type of mom – why are you even reading our blog? We’re about niceness and silliness and supporting each other – concepts you clearly do not understand or else reject. In either case, you also can suck it.

There are a lot more of us than there are of you. We choose to use our powers for good. And good always triumphs over evil in MommyLand. So suck on that.

So, Competitive Mommy, as I always tell my kids: "It’s not a competition."  But if it were, we would totally win.

*Facebook example: my friend Ellen’s daughter was just accepted into a GT program which would require her to switch schools. It’s a big freaking deal (the kid is a genius). So her Facebook update was like: “My daughter Una just got accepted into to the GT program at Blah Blah Elementary. We’re thrilled! But confused. What do we do now? Does anyone out there have good scoop about the program?”


That is a badass update. Does she brag a little? Hell yes. Does she brag perfectly? Even yesser. Because that’s the kind of bragging that makes people genuinely happy for you rather than sighing and rolling their eyes at you.


Share
 Subscribe in a reader
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

25 comments:

  1. Love this! So true!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I had a BFF that was a combo of 2 and 3. I dropped her like a bad habit and MAN has my life been grand ever since.

    Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd now I want a egg salad sammich!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What about ones who want their lives to be worse? Like, I was telling a friend about some non-typical behavior problems I was having w/my kid and how I was struggling to deal with it, she was like, "OH, mine is like that all the time." Yeah, no she's not. I've seen her. And why would you do that? Act like your kid is worse? What prize is there for that??

    ReplyDelete
  4. OMG I have a #4 friend!! At first I thought it was just me going crazy and reading too much into things, but it was definitely a weird stalker thing. I used to do things I had no interest in whatsoever just to see if she would do them too, and she ALWAYS did!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh yes. A friend with a baby two weeks older than mine kept asking if he was sitting up yet, from the minute her daughter did it. It made me feel inferior but he was 7 weeks early and about 7 weeks after she started asking, he sat alone.

    My stepsister has to one-up and her kid is 10 months older than my daughter. I would HOPE she is capable of doing things an 18 month old does 10 months later.

    My mil is the worst example. The grandkids are cute but her own kids were cuter. (I do agree that her son is a fine specimen but the kid have ears!) Her kid walked already or sat up or had teeth by that age. One potty trained at a year old. You get the idea. We call her Marie like the mom on Everybody Loves Raymond.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That was my favorite line from Glee the other night! Although it is a toss up now whether Sue or Brittany is my favorite character. :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. OMG Jenni yes! The "my life sucks more than yours" mom is awful! If you got 3 hours of sleep last night, well you can just stfu because she only got 1.
    I know someone like that and she was TERRIBLE while I was pregnant. She'd ask how I was feeling, practically beg to hear the bad parts, and then proceed to one-up (can it still be called that?) me on every single count. Sorry, but I don't like to be in "suckiness" competitions. Just because your life sucks doesn't mean that my life doesn't occasionally suck too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Met a mom like this on my son's soccer team recently...my son is autistic and plays soccer in order to help with his social skills and teamwork. So this BIZ-NATCH goes to the coach and says how it isn't fair that the other kids on the team (her son, like she's actually concerned about the other' well-being) have to deal with the disappointment of losing just so my son can feel included. (Just FYI, I got this directly from the coach, who happens to be a family friend. She had no idea this was the case.)

    So I heard about this, and squared the F up. Pulled her aside after practice one day and straight up called her on it. Asked how dare she pass judgment on a child who has a disability, and express the idea that he should not have the same opportunities as the other kids on the team. Told her that if she was lucky, her son would end up being more like his father and less like his judgmental Nazi of a mother. Stupid cow.

    So she backed off of my kid but complained to the coach about some others, when finally the COACH squared up and said that he was going to kick her boy off the team if she didn't stop. So she has...for now. But the summer sports season is coming up:/

    ReplyDelete
  9. OMG! This is so true! The only thing I don't agree with is that there are more of "us" than "them" I am kind of a lonely mom because every time I make a new friend who seems pretty normal, they turn out to be nuts in one or usually more than one of the ways you mentioned. I'd rather have no friends than a bunch of bitches.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You know that One Upper Moms produce One Upper Children. It is like a disease. My son has a friend that I refuse to allow in my home because this child spends the entire time he is here commenting on how his legos are better, he has more Pokemon cards, his house is bigger, he has more trophies.... you get the picture.

    So I recently spent some time with his mother at a school event. We'd met before, but I didn't really know her well. So we got to talking with a small group of moms. This mom had to one up every single story. Oh, your kid was reading when he went to kindergarten? MY kid was reading at 3! Oh, you had a fun drunken story? Let me tell you my BETTER drunken story! I then realized the kid is a One Upper because his mother is a One Upper. Annoying, but now I know who to avoid.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you, thank you. Your post saved my day today. I have been feeling lately as though my life is one big minefield of CM's.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Loved it! I know we are all competitive in one way or another, but we have to control it if we ever want to have any friends ;-) I've had my fair share of type 1-5, plus the weird liars - why do they have to lie about everything??? It makes me strive to be as normal as my messed up self can be and be thankful for my normal friends!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you, thank you, for this post. I have been feeling completely surrounded by Type 1 and 2 CM's lately, and I agree I'd rather be lonely than wasting time around people like that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sorry, did not mean to post twice...or thrice.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lets not forget the twits who know that you are home alone with a nursing NEWBORN while your husband is deployed to IRAQ yet insist that they are more exhausted because their husband's snoring woke them up last night.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm glad to have a bunch of great mommy friends, and none of us really tolerate the CM syndrome (though it does creep in... I guess it's a little inevitable, and everyone is guilty sometimes of being a Type 1). Bragging is one thing, as mentioned, but all the rest?? Wonder, too, if it's more or less prevalent in homeschooling circles... we've definitely had some Drama Queens.
    And honestly, it's the parents that keep me from wanting to put my kids in organized team sports.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I sometimes have the urge to downplay my son's achievements (and by achievements I mean kicking a soccer ball in a perfectly straight line so it hits my phone and sends it slamming into my upper lip, thereby leaving me with an attractive sliced-lip-look)just to discourage competition. It's hard to one-up me when I say "Potty training? No, C still thinks the potty is a receptacle for his toothbrush. His tush has never touched it."

    ReplyDelete
  18. I haven't dealt with this yet.... mostly because I don't know a lot of moms. I'm actuallyt more than a little terrified that I might BE a CM some day! If I become that, I expect you two to stage an intervention...

    ReplyDelete
  19. My SIL is a one-upper, except that she is constantly in battle to be worse off then you. You have trouble balancing your budget that month? She's practically on the streets. You've got the flu? Then she's sure she's dying of cancer. Guess which family member I only see once or twice a year?

    And my sister is convinced her son is gifted when he demolishes the furniture and yells swear words. Again, not a frequent visitor.

    It takes a lot of energy to be a parent, so I don't understand why people take things even further. Me, I'm happy to quietly sit in the corner (when there is the rare quiet), drink my cocktail and revel in my own inner achievements.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Have you guys read: http://stfuparents.tumblr.com/ ?? It's so great.

    My BFF and I just had to dump a #1-4. The #4 part is very scary. And the #3 was capped off by this inability to remember a single detail about our kids... you just asked me about this last time. Why do you act like you care?

    ReplyDelete
  21. How about the "more experienced than you" mom? I think this is a variation of Type 2 and/or Type 3. I have a friend who has 4 kids, all much older than mine [hers range in age from 9 - 18 while I have a toddler and an infant,] and everytime we go somewhere with my kids she proceeds to give me "advice" - sometimes contradictory within the same visit. We were out to breakfast one morning, and everytime I did something to help my toddler she told me I needed to be more laid back, yet 1 minute later she would look at him and exclaim, "He's choking!! He's choking!!" - I panicked the 1st time she did this, then was more annoyed than anything else when she proceeded to sound the choking alarm for no reason at least 4 more times that meal. A year later, she tried to pull the same thing! Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I was afraid I was becoming THAT facebook mom so I started a twitter just about my kids. When I posted this, so that the family members who do want to know about every fart and booger, can follow I was asked by a few people to not stop posting on FB. So along with your Ellen example I will let the other mommies know that apparently funny antics are well received. Even if they do sometimes involve farts and boogers.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I had a pleasure-filled afternoon once of watching a Perfect Mom rip into my friend who had experienced the horror of one of her identical twin daughters dying in vitro. The other daughter was born healthy but was of course delivered via C-Section. My friend was also unable to nurse.

    Perfect Mom lit into her for NOT delivering in "the normal way that would have proved she was a woman by pushing that baby out!" Next on the list was not breastfeeding and instead feeding the ONE SURVIVING TWIN formula. Not a pretty picture!

    ReplyDelete
  24. @Amy - Ack! How did you restrain yourself? I could NOT have listened to that. People like that are the only reason I sometimes wish I did wear heels, so as to have a handy weapon when needed.

    ReplyDelete
  25. im with you on the one upper,my ex boyfriend is a one upper,so is his daughter,and so is her mum,everything my kids have she has,she is more intelligent,taller,can read better is doing better at school,has more friends,bigger house,better toys,pinker things,(shes 7 my daughter is five) lets overlook the fact that she has a better grasp of sarcasm then her parents,and is turning into a bit of a liar,one uppers suck,its contagious and must be stopped avoid one uppers at all costs......

    ReplyDelete

ShareThis

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts