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:
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!