Friday, January 20, 2012


We were loading up in the Jeep when Josh asked Kate if she wanted him to tell me about her day or if she wanted to tell me. Uh-oh. You may remember from this post that the last time a conversation started this way, it wasn't a good thing. My stomach started turning and Josh started telling me that when he picked Kate up her teacher wanted to talk to him. At this point I was on edge. Way back a decade ago when I began the journey of motherhood it never occurred to me I would have to worry about teachers wanting to talk to us about anything bad. Because you know, my kids were going to be perfect. :)  Well, almost 10 years and 3 kids later, I was worried! To build the suspense and DRIVE ME CRAZY, we stopped to get a drink at Mr. Cheap Butts and Josh told me he would tell me what she wanted to talk about after he got our stuff. AGHHH!!!!! It was driving me nuts. I started trying to pry it out of Kate, but all she would tell me was, "I didn't get paddled today."  Well, at least that was a relief. Finally, Josh returned and I gave him .5 seconds to get in the vehicle and tell me what happened. He started telling me that when he got there Kate was looking for her folder and Mrs. B. had it because she wanted to talk to him. I frantically grabbed Kate's backpack looking for her folder. Did she get a frowny face??? And who knew that as a 31 year old woman I would be so concerned over the idea of getting a frowny face? After dragging this story out for EVER, Josh told me that basically Kate's teacher was really impressed with some testing she's been doing and she wanted us to know that Kate is really smart and she was amazed at how quick she picks stuff up. *sigh of relief*

You might think that this information caused me to swell with pride. Well, maybe a little. But it also caused me to pause and realize how far I've come (or fallen, however you want to look at it.)  The truth is, with Sarah I knew she was brilliant and advanced and I had two sets of grandparents confirming my beliefs. I had the normal parental expectations for greatness. Now, after having made the decision to hold a child back a grade and having another paddled before she even starts going to school for a full day, I just hold my breath and hope we get through the day. And I had to laugh a little because the day before this happened, my friend Philip had sent me a message with the word of the day: 
January 17, 2012 Urban Word of the Day
The one-up rivalry that moms play making their child seem better, smarter, and/ or more advanced than yours. May involve two or more moms and any number of children, even full-grown.
She engaged me in mompetition insisting her son walked at 6 months and implying my son was slow for his age

Okay Moms, show of hands. Have you ever been part of a mompetition? I think we all have. Being the slacker that I am, I dropped out early. I am not one of the awesome moms who kept perfect records of every milestone of their children. I remember that Sarah sat up by herself when she was 5 months, only because it happened on Christmas Day. I remember that Eli and Kate both started walking before they were 1, not because I was thrilled that they were advanced, but because by then I knew that life is never the same once your child becomes mobile and that you never sit down again once it happens. And I like to sit down a lot.

Unfortunately, mompetition doesn't end once the physical developments of infancy do. It just changes. It turns into whose child makes the honor roll, whose child has the cutest clothes or whose child is the most talented, creative, athletic, etc. You find yourself doing things like building huge veggie trees because your child always ends up in classes with the children of "that" mom who runs a bakery and always makes the best goodies for class parties. Wait, is that just me?

I am competitive by nature. Just ask anyone who has played against me in Wii bowling. :) And I think that healthy competition is a good thing. There is a time and a place for it. I've had to realize though, being a mom isn't one of those times. For two reasons. First, my kids are real, live people with their own thoughts, feelings, abilities and personalities. It's not fair to expect them to be a certain way because another child is, or to use their achievements or awesomeness to bolster my self-esteem. Not their job. The second reason is that we as moms DO NOT  need something else to stress about. Am I right, here? I mean really, between sleep deprivation, picky eaters, sick days, homework, and trying to find a way to get fingernail polish out of the carpet, who needs more pressure? 

Here's what I've recently realized that I wish I had realized 9 years ago. This is not a contest. There will be no trophies or ribbons presented to us upon high school graduation. It will not matter how early our child rolled over or if they were the first kid in their class to learn to tie their shoes. It will matter that instead of being taught to compete with their classmates they learned to love them and appreciate each of them for the special qualities and talents they possess. It will matter that they learn to value themselves as unique and special rather than running themselves ragged trying to win the next award or be the top of the class. It will matter that they learn to work with people instead of against them. 

And that brings me to the greatest downfall of  mompetition. In a time in our lives when we need all of the support and encouragement we can get, we tear each other apart with jealousy, snootiness and one upmanship. I just read this great blog post and I thought it brought out something none of us wants to admit. That there is a part of us that wants people to be jealous or to look at us and think we are the mom who has it all together.  We've all been part of that conversation where "that mom" is praised for whatever reason, be it that she cooks all organic meals or that she can wear skinny jeans. But the truth is that at the end of the day, even the mom in skinny jeans doesn't have it all together. 

I'm pretty sure I gave up my nomination for "that mom" as soon as I started blogging. Sometimes I wish I could go back and start over and only blog about our sweet moments or post pretty pictures. But, by now y'all know me well enough to know I do good to get any pictures!! Personally, I'm waving the white (slightly yellowing and wrinkled because it stayed in the laundry pile too long) flag of surrender on the competition thing. If you need a mom to be greatly impressed with or to inspire you with educational activities and healthy snack ideas, I'm probably not for you. But if you need a place to go to feel better about yourself, I'm your girl. There is no perfection here. Just lots of learning lessons the hard way, trying to love the good AND the bad, laughing when it's funny and crying when it's not. 

I'm going to finish by telling you something that Eli did that really made me think. Every week since school started he had been making 100's on his spelling test and I would proudly display them on the refrigerator. Well, one Friday I had been busy and hadn't checked his folder. I walked past the fridge and noticed he had already put his spelling test up. But something was different. No 100/A this week. Nope. It was a 67/D. I was in shock. A little disappointed. Then, it hit me. Eli didn't realize I had been putting those tests up there because of how proud I was of his grade. He just thought I was proud of him. And you know what? I am. I'm just proud of him. Of course, it's not okay for him to make that grade every week, but he hasn't. He's gone back to his A's. But it is important that my kids know I'm still going to love them and be proud of them, even on an off week. Especially on an off week. Moms are the same way. Sometimes those off weeks are when we really need the most love and encouragement. Sometimes us moms are the only ones who really get that. Let's stop the mompetition and instead of using our knowledge and experience to brag or beat each other up, let's use it to hug, support, educate and hold each other's hands on this journey. From what I hear, it's not going to get any easier!!!!!!! But we have great reasons to persevere and cheer each other on!


Neila Monroe said...

I enjoyed reading your blog today. My daughers are 28 and 25 now, but I still remember those years and all the fun times and hectic times.

One thing I remember in particular that humbled me into realizing I wasn't in the running of mother of the year came when my youngest daughter, Hannah, was in 2nd grade.

It was a Wednesday afternoon and we were headed out the door to church for a supper(imagine that, Baptist Church - supper)when Hannah said,"Oh, Mom I forgot, we are supposed to take a doll that we've made to school tomorrow." What?! She said the teacher said we could make it out of sticks, pop-cicle stick, etc. They were going to display them on the chalkboard tray in their classroom. So since we were in a hurry, we found a little troll that fit on the end of a pencil and tied a piece of fabric around it to make it look like a robe. This troll had bright orange hair that was tied up with a green ribbon. We tied a red piece of yarn around the middle of it. It was colorful to say the least. We put it in her backpack for school the next day and went on to church.

You can imagine my humilitation the next day when I asked her about her doll and she said it was okay. I said, "just okay?" And she said, "Well, it was supposed to look like an indian or a pilgrim!

When I visited her room before Thanksgiving, there were all these Pilgrim men and women dressed in their black attire and a few Indians and right in the middle of them was this troll with her arms struck straignt out with her orange hair, green ribbon, and red belt holding her robe in place!

mamajil said...

Great post!!! I dropped out of the mommy competition a long time ago :) As a homeschool mom to 10...I always felt a lot of pressure to do what I felt called to do but also to make sure everyone was excelling some how I measured my success by how well they tested....imagine my struggle when my fifth child came along and with severe learning was an eyeopener and a pride buster...but she is the most precious child a hard worker and loves the Lord so much....I had to learn this journey isn't about the A's its about raising men and women for the kingdom and equipping them to fulfill their destiny in Christ....its a work in progress for me to yield my expectations and seek Gods...Love your Post and your blog

Kristy said...

You go girl! :)