Mompetition

11 May

TIME Magazine’s controversial article and photo Are You Mom Enough? and the timing of this blog post are purely coincidental, albeit apropos.

Confession: I fully admit that when I first saw the cover of TIME, I couldn’t have cared less that the woman still breastfeeds her eight-year old (if that child is three-years old, then I’m a dancing chicken). I was more enthralled with her balls of (recycled) steel and confused as to why TIME portrayed nursing as provocative. Ew. 

But what did strike me was the deeper question. (And this is way more to me than breastfeeding for an extended period of time.) Is the pressures of modern-day motherhood hurting our culture? And have we “lost our ability to trust our own instincts…” as Dr. Logan Levkoff so eloquently put it.

Have the pressures and consequent mompetition gotten to an all time high? Or should I say low? It’s like if you’re not nursing your kids until they’re four, composting your baby’s bowel movements, while making baby food from organic, raw, clean, quinoa fed vegetables in a recycled spiralizer made out of hemp and flax seed…and perseverating over all of the above, well, you’re just not cutting it as a mom.

Dinner is ready! I grew it in our victory garden.

Mompetition has certainly evolved. Gone are the days when soccer moms were at the top of the Mommy pecking order. Nope. Now, it’s more than having a mini-van, perfectly curled bangs and a cardigan draped loosely over your shoulders. Now moms are having a face(book)-off as to who has it rougher. Who can do more. Who can do it all and in the most difficult, yet organized and perfectly timed way possible, while looking amazing. Of course.

She probably let your kids watch television.

Watch this clip and OH MY GOD WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS?

But let’s be honest, mompetition really begins when your child is in utero:

Nowadays moms-to-be “should” want to give birth in the woods, by themselves, hanging from a tree limb, Mayan style. Don’t get me wrong, I have fully supported all of my friends in their quest for their ideal birth. I love when women get to have the experience that is right for them. But now I read these articles and it’s not just about having a “natural” childbirth anymore. The more pain, degree of difficulty and of course less “intervention” the better. Not sure when having medical personnel handy when you’re about to attempt bringing a baby into the world was coined “intervention.”  

Oh you love your baby, Alicia? Tell us all about it.

I remember when I was pregnant with my first. A co-worker (or it could have been a stranger on the street because we all know that absolutely nothing is sacred when it comes to pregnancy) asked me:

“Are you getting an epidural? Or are you trying for a natural childbirth?”

Me: “I think I’m just going to try to get the baby out one way or another without dying and in the safest way possible for me and my baby.” There’s a novel idea.

And natural childbirth? I’m not sure you can get more natural than creating life. I got an epidural. And it still hurt like a sonofabitch and it was still hard. I didn’t take narcotics and I didn’t so much as take a Tylenol when I was pregnant. But, I felt more natural after my two children were born than I had ever felt in my entire life. And I am just thankful that I didn’t pee on the doctor. That’s a lie. I totally peed on the doctor. Twice.

Me in labor. Truth.

I have a hard time imagining my grandmother, who raised six children, competing with other moms. Asking them if they got an epidural, if they exclusively breastfed and if they fed their children dye-free, organic food. Then again, they typically knocked a woman out with ether during birth, but that’s neither here nor there. My point is that I think women were too busy being moms to bother competing. And of course having conversations about  women’s rights. And drinking highballs. And they fed their kids mayonnaise and it was awesome. Now I want a highball and mayonnaise.

She feeds her baby formula. She must not love him.

And disposable diapers? Why don’t you just pour chlorine down your baby’s gullet? Or just throw your garbage in the ocean? Slacker. When did we start measuring the success of motherhood based on the receptacle in which our baby poops? When did the objective become making all of our lives more difficult? Isn’t it hard enough? And don’t we still have a ton to learn? If my daughter doesn’t kill me with a flat-iron when she’s sixteen, I’ll consider myself a success.

If only I had homeschooled her…

Speaking of overcomplicating things, what’s with the baby carriers? The Baby Bjorn is no longer sufficient. Do we have Maggie Gyllenhaal to blame for this? Try following this tutorial after not sleeping for three weeks. I ended up weeping on my sitz bath, contemplating selling my baby on the internet because I was clearly unfit.

Yup. Seventeen minutes later and you look like a drunk Samurai and your baby is still screaming. Only this time she’s in a full split.

And can it be okay to not have our kids in eight hundred activities? “Sorry, little Banjo has soccer, jai-alai, origami, Mandarin lessons and statistic club, so we’re not going to make your son’s stupid, low-rent birthday party at the Bowlerdome.”

I wonder if the pendulum will ever swing in the other direction. If we will ever be satisfied with doing the best we can with the resources that we have. I hope to get my children into adulthood, healthy, happy and kind. I’m not sure if that makes me mom enough, but they certainly seem to like me and I’m having a ton of fun.

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11 Responses to “Mompetition”

  1. Sylvia May 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    1. You crack me up!
    2. Thank you for saying it like it is. Yes, I use disposable diapers, yes I got an epidural, yes I’m still a good mom. Women should be sticking together, focusing on our similarities instead of our differences.

    • Bitchin Sisters May 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

      I couldn’t agree more my friend.

    • Cathy May 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

      Amen, Sylvia!!!

  2. RFL May 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Hilarious! I want a high ball and some mayonnaise too.

    • Cathy May 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      “Like”!

  3. liz (@eliesheva) May 15, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    omg wtf you’re BLOGGING and not teaching your infant which nuts and berries are ok to eat in the woods? how will they survive the SOCCER PRACTICE? OBVIOUSLY, I brought along organic Cheetos and freshly squeezed strawberry kiwi Snapple.

    slacker.

    • Bitchin Sisters May 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      I love Cheetos.

  4. Sara May 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    Well said. I tried to be as “natural” as possible during my daughter’s gestation and birth just for my own benefit. I’ve never been a fan of drugs so an epidural scared me more than the pain did… ergo, natural childbirth. I think moms today do feel a sense of competition but finding the need to talk about our birthing and parenting experiences comes from us wanting to brag about this amazing new life. I definitely got annoyed with “veteran” moms telling me what to expect and how to behave and , “Oh you’ll definitely want an epidural” but that came from their own experiences and who am I to say that it wasn’t the right thing for them? Time to put the notion of “competition” aside and see personal mommyhood conversations as an excuse to talk about your kids and all the memories, whether good or bad, of being preggers. Even if it makes you want to drop kick their opinionated heads… it’s way easier to just listen, nod politely, and take exactly what you want from it. No one has the right to influence you to behave a certain way, especially when it comes to creating a life and raising children. I definitely see the competition and I wonder why people spend so much time building a case that they are THE MOST TIRED MOTHER ON THE PLANET when they should be enjoying the little twerps who are making them so tired. Love the videos btw!
    lifeinthesetimesblog.wordpress.com

    • Bitchin Sisters May 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      I love you.

    • Bitchin Sisters June 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

      holla (said in new annoying RHONY voice)

  5. Missy August 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Oh snap! I got an epi, formula fed, disposable diapered and bjorned my son. Thank gawd he’s still alive at 2 to tell of such hardships: “Back in my day, I had to sleep in a black dungeon-like hard-cloth carrier with a name no one could pronounce correctly…yeah it was tough back then.” Lol! Thanks for the awesome post! I think about my mom and grandmothers too; how they never had time for this mompetition bs. Besides, my fiercest competitor is my kid and I just about sh– myself every time he threatens to put a single, green pea in his mouth. Omg he ate a veggie! Win 1 for Mommy! 😉

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