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Competitive Mothering
When did mothering become on Olympic worthy sport? Birthday parties are becoming more and more outlandish. Kids are scheduled to death with everything from soccer and violin to tai chi and Latin. All this before they even enter preschool. In my observations, Competitive Mommies tend to fall into one or more of four categories. If you are "lucky" enough to encounter someone who can be classified as all four, watch out. Her head may literally explode if she catches you feeding formula to your never-been-to-Gymboree, non-verbal, pacifier sucking, Ferberized nine month old.

1. First, the Activity Mom. The Activity Mom schedules her children for every, and I mean every, activity under the sun. Whether it's because she's terrified that other children are getting a jump on her precious darling in the Advanced French Literature for Toddlers classes or just a wish to spend less time with the fruit of her loins, the end result is exhaustion for everyone involved and an insanely high gasoline bill.

I started thinking about the Activity Mom today because I was home with my children (sick sitter) and we watched Jack's Big Music Show after lunch. Do you know this show? My kids love the music and dancing and I can tolerate it, unlike that annoying purple dinosaur or that blue spotted dog. (Sorry fans, just my opinion) We actually have every show on DVD. Anywho, at the beginning of every episode, Jack, heads out to his backyard clubhouse and we hear his mother yelling out the door "Jack, you don't have much time. We have to leave soon for scuba lessons/ping pong practice/basket weaving class/etc..." Every day Jack has a different activity. There have been 20-something episodes already and 20 different activities. Strangely, I enjoy hearing what Jack's activity of the day will be, but I digress. I know JBMS is lampooning the typical over scheduling Mommy but I have friends who seem to be doing the same thing. Every week little Jimmy or Jane is involved in a new enriching activity and I am gently admonished that I am somehow harming my two year old because I don't do the same. (Oh, yeah, and because I work. But that's another post.) Give me a break. I refuse to get caught up in that insanity and I usually just let the comments roll off of my back.

2. Next, we have the SanctiMommy. Everything SanctiMommy does is the best and only way to parent. It doesn't matter what your choices are. If they are different from SanctiMommy's, she will either bluntly or subtly express her disapproval. Are you a working mom? SanctiMommy tells you that she could make herself happy by working but she's willing to sacrifice herself for her children. They are soooo important, after all. Are you a stay at home mom? SanctiMommy tells you that you're a drain on society and should be using your valuable education to break the glass ceiling. You owe it to future generations, including your children. Not breastfeeding? Breastfeeding? Spank? Don't spank? Attachment Parent? Fond of Ferberizing? SanctiMommy will judge you. Mom-101 summed it up best, writing:
While the Sanctimommy is quick to deem others unfit mothers based on (really, in the end) superficial decisions like the cleanliness of a child's nose or the YoBaby in the grocery cart, she's reluctant to look as closely at herself. At her own attitude. At what seems to me to be anger and angst and a general unhappiness directed at a world around her which she can't control.
Yup, she nailed it. SanctiMommy is infuriating at times (see Mommy Wars), but she can be ignored.

3. Third on our list is the Mensa Mommy. Mensa Mommy has given birth to Jesus H. Christ, or at least the next best thing. Her child will walk before yours, talk before yours, sleep through the night before yours, breastfeed better, and generally stomp the crap out of your child before the age of 2 and for the rest of your lives. No matter what cute, adorable, or truly remarkable thing your child does, she has a story to one up you. Come on, you all know exactly the type of mom I'm talking about. Let's face it. We all like to talk about our kids and brag about our kids and generally convince other people of how wonderful they are, but most of us are careful to make sure we don't push it too far in the process. You're excited to share that your little girl said Mama at nine months? Mensa Mommy's little genius had a vocabulary of at least 30 words at that point and was speaking in full sentences by one. Your 3 year old learned to count to 10 in Spanish? Mensa Mommy's kid was fluent in Mandarin at that age. You're all worked up about sending your little boy to pre-school at the age of 4? That's nothing. Mensa Mommy's brat was deemed "exceptional" by the school and started at 2 1/2. You can't win. I don't even try.

4. Finally, we come to Passive Aggressive Mommy, my personal favorite. P.A.M. appears to be supportive, friendly, and non-judgmental, but beware. She will betray you and the sisterhood in a heartbeat. My favorite example of this is a fellow Mommy at my sons' daycare. She's a fellow working mom and a professional woman in a field dominated by men. My soul sister, I thought, when I first met her. There were several incidents with which I could regale you, but let's jump to one of the more recent - The Great Christmas Caper. I was busy as hell in the first part of December. I took the last two weeks off and had to cram four weeks worth of work into two. Frazzled Mommy that I am, I didn't think to start freaking out about my sons' daycare holiday party until the day before. I asked M, our sitter, if we should bring presents for all the kids. P.A.M. was there and laughingly butted in with a, "who on earth has time for that???" comment. I bet you can see where this is going.... Anywho, I was relieved. If necessary, I was fully prepared to run out to Target after 8pm in the middle of the Christmas shopping season to get small presents for all the kids. But I didn't have to. Someone in the sisterhood of working women gave me permission to just let it go. Whew! My kids showed up the next day with a present for their sitter and none for the other children. And they came home with gifts from their sitter, almost every other child at daycare, ... and Passive Aggressive Mommy (or at least from her son, but last time I checked 4 year olds weren't allowed to charge books at Barnes and Noble.) Now, of course, the kids didn't give a rat's butt. Mine didn't and I'm sure none of the other toddlers did either. (For the record, neither did my sitter.) Nope, we all know that the only people who care about and notice these things are the other moms. And I am now the slacker Mommy who can't be bothered to get Christmas gifts for all the other children. Thank you, P.A.M.

Now, do I really care about any of these judgmental mommies? No. Of course not. But they do get under my skin no matter how much I try not to let them. Am I wrong or should moms be supportive of other moms? We're all part of the same incredibly difficult, awe inspiring little club so why can't we give our fellow moms some props instead of tearing them down?

So do you have any categories I should add? Competitive Mommy stories to share? Let's hear them!



Blogger Zuska said...

My kids are older than yours - and I can only think of ONE type of competitive mom at this stage: The "I'm at School More Than You Are" mommy. I have gotten more judgmental comments about the fact that people "hardly ever see me at the school" and that they know *everything* going on in the 5th grade, because THEY are there every DAY than I can count.

I don't notice the competitiveness about activities anymore, and honestly, whether it comes from myself or from other parents, I'm more apt to feel competitive about having LESS activities than others.

I am also sniffing in the wind an encroaching competition about how "popular" a mom's kids are - both with the same and opposite sexes.

Just to give you stuff to look forward to .....

Blogger CPA Mom said...

How about my sister saying I was a bad mom for not breastfeeding when she knew I had a breast reduction and DID NOT PRODUCE ANY MILK.

How about her judging me for working when she knows my bills won't get paid unless I do?

Good times, good times. I'm totally directing everyone I know to read this post.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the beauty queen MOMMY -- the ones who wear a size 0 but claim to be chubby, have perfectly foiled hair and lipstick and designer duds at the playground and look at me like I am a complete shlump when I show up at the playground in jeans much larger than size 0 prepared to PLAY in the sandbox!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the type I experience at my kid's schools... The I-gave-up-my-career-to-be-with-my-kids mom. They look down on me for not having ever chosen a career path. Like I have no real ambition in life and I am just very stupid.

Even one teacher thought I didn't know how to do 5th grade math because of those moms talking about me not being smart.

And, it's funny that those same moms are the beauty queen moms here.

Blogger bubandpie said...

This is such a fun post - I wish I'd written it myself! (Darn you.) I don't have any new categories to add, though: I haven't actually encountered much judgment from real-life moms. Probably because I don't get out much.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

And, just wait, y'all, because later in life they morph into the Competitive Grandmommy! My ex's stepmother was so horrid that whenever I would tell her stories about my daughter's latest achievement, she would one-up me with a tale about her granddaughter! My tongue is actually dented from twenty years of biting it!

Being a teacher, I have a few favorites.

" Martyr Mommy" this woman would have everyone believe that her entire being centers around the welfare of her child. She can list, at length, each and every attempt she has made to better the life of her baby. Careful not to question this mommy too much. She tends to bristle if pushed for details of just HOW she is helping her child! You just need to trust that what she is telling you is the truth! This mommy also comes with the "water works" attachment!

"Angry Mommy" This mommy is mad at the world. She takes out her frustration on anyone unfortunate enough to be in her path. Nothing is EVER the fault of Angry Mommy's baby....OH NO! Her baby would NEVER do wrong! Angry Mommy doesn't want to hear anything about her precious angel that is less than a glowing report.

I fall more into the "Mommy Least Likely to Win an Award" I have the best of intentions, yet they don't always seem to make it to fruition. I love my kids, but I work full time, listen to music on the (GASP) radio, and drink a glass of wine every now and again!

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Ooh, this is fun! I wish I'd written this post sooner. Thanks for all the additions, ladies!

Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

BabyCenter Mommy, or 'My Kid's More Advanced Than Yours' Mommy, which is a variation on Mensa Mommy, but more ubiquitous...

Blogger ewe are here said...

I've seen a few 'pushy mommies' out and about lately. My 'favorite' was one who took one look at the picture her child was coloring and starting telling him it was no good and that he could do much better than he was doing, and why couldn't he color a 'nice' picture, etc etc. I felt soooo bad for the kid. I mean, we're talking about a little kid and a box of crayons for pete's sake!

Blogger PunditMom said...

Yeah, I am SOOOO tired of all that. Heaven forbid we all just "mother" the best way we know how without having to fight for a prize!

Blogger Sarcasta-mom said...

This was great! As other posts stated, I so wish that I had thought to write this myself.

In my 7 years as a parent, I've seen all of these moms and more. It's always frustrating when moms feel they have to be in competition with each other.

Blogger BlogWhore said...

add a good category, like the 'cool' mommy who puts her kids to bed early so she can jump her husband's bones.

or the cool mommy who drags her three month old daughter to a cub's game and breastfeeds her there despite other's warning that wrigley field is no place for a baby.

let's face it, they are kids. millions of kids are born every year. we are mothers, millions of mothers are born every year. parenting is not a new science, it is a way of life that is overshadowed by boosy books and negative looks.

Blogger Mieke said...

I am so that mother who cannot add another thing to her list of things to do. When the mother who runs the soccer team emailed us to ask us to bring Valentine's to practice I just about lost it. I wrote back to the group that I am the "lame mom" who simply cannot do another thing. Thankfully, three other moms joined in and said they too were just too busy to one more stupid, obligitory, inane thing just because they'd look bad if they didn't. (ok. those weren't their actual words, but I well, you know).

Anyway, I am the lame mom. I do the stuff that I like, that is fun for me.

Anonymous Nancy said...

I love this post -- I've had it saved in Bloglines forever until I could get over to comment on it!

At our daughters' day care there's a "Let's Keep Her a Baby Forever" mom -- her daughter is 4, but the mom and dad treat her like she's 2. ALL conversation revolves around the kid (in fact, they refuse to speak to adults when she's around), they carry her into day care every day even though she's capable of walking, etc. Unfortunately because she's treated like such a princess by her parents, she treats everyone else around her with a high level of disdain.

I've encountered the P.A.M. mommy too. Not pretty.

Anonymous amy said...

Love this post. If you're looking for a fun side-gig (non-paying, sadly, but fun!), I'd love to add you as a contributor to Work It - http://www.workingmomsblog.com - I'm at amiefletch@yahoo.com if you're at all interested. :)

Blogger Amy W said...

I love the PAM, I totally have met a few of those in my days.

And competitive mommies? My street is full of them. Good times, good times.

Blogger Meena said...

I know all those mommies, unfortunately!

What about the "why-did-I-have-kids-mommy?" AKA "when-will-the-kids-hurry-up-and-grow-up-and-leave-home-mommy?" This is the mommy that can never seem to have a good time if the kids are around b/c they're just so needy, you know? :-)

Blogger Heather said...

I love Mensa Mommy, well I don't love her, but you've captured her very well!

My kids are 8, so I see a lot of what zuska describes. Why are PTA meetings held at 9am on Tuesdays? Oh, RIGHT. Because the mom's who REALLY CARE ABOUT THEIR KIDS don't have jobs and can be there! I totally forgot.

It makes me MENTAL. It makes me insane.

Yes, I have a freaking job. My husband walked out on me when I was pregnant and he sure the hell wasn't going to support me. Moreover, my education was really freaking expensive and I want to make sure I use it, and beyond that (GASP) I really like working. OMG! String me up by my toenails for admitting THAT one.

Whew, I feel better! Thanks for the great post. It feels good to vent about this subject. I never knew before becoming a mother how very competitive it is.

OH! And cpa mom? My twins were born at 24 weeks. I never produced any milk and I got YELLED at by people because I wasn't "trying hard enough". Sweet Jesus. I think having two premature babies dying in the hospital a few months after your husband walks out on you is a sufficient level of trying for the rest of my freaking life.

Anonymous PT-LawMom said...

OMG, the P.A.M. Grrr. At least you can see the others' knives coming.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot Enmeshed Mommy -- this is the one who's lost her own personality to the point that she thinks she IS her kid. She talks about what "we" were for Halloween. Last week, Enmeshed Mommy was at my kid's school in her frickin' PAJAMAS! The KIDS were supposed to wear their pajamas to school, but I guess Enmeshed Mommy got a little confused and forgot that SHE wasn't actually in fifth grade too. Can't wait until "we" have our first boyfriend. Can't wait to see Enmeshed Mommy climb into the backseat of the car with Britkneigh and her boyfriend.

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