the one about mompetition

I just returned from a little trip to Kansas City, Missouri. No, really, it was fun.

One of the things that made it fun was this awesome shopping area called the Plaza. It was like a village in and of itself, full of great stores that we don't have here in the metropolis of Muncie. As you can imagine, that's a pretty extensive list.

Among those stores was one called Hot Mama. I initially laughed at the name and saw my reflection in the window and thought not.for.me. However, other members of our group showed interest in it so when in Kansas City...

I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in and saw casual, cute, modest, and fashionable clothes. It was kind of like an Ann Taylor Loft for non-teachers, and since that shoe fits me right now, I felt right at home.

I found a couple of shirts on clearance and overall enjoyed the experience. However, two poster-sized photos on the wall caught my eye. One image was of a mom wearing high heels and a cute trench coat, balancing an armful of groceries on the left and a bouquet of fresh flowers on the right. Her picture perfect toddler was waiting patiently in the doorway.

Glance at myself.

Jeans on the 4th day without a wash. Hair in stubby ponytail. Haven't been to the grocery in two weeks. People buy fresh flowers for themselves? Why isn't that toddler having a potty accident or screaming for Bubble Guppies?

I fail.

The second photo was of another young (presumable) mom wearing a cute outfit, standing on the stairs of her home, looking like she was about ready to go somewhere cool, talking on her cell phone. Smiling.

Think to myself.

She's probably getting ready to go on a date with her husband that he planned every detail of. Or she's getting ready to go have a night on the town with her friends. Her kids are probably at church camp, building houses for the homeless.

I fail again.

All of these thoughts of failure because of two photos of paid models at a store called Hot Mama for cryin' out loud. I felt silly and tried to put it all out of my mind, but the thoughts still haunt me this very minute.

What is it about us moms and the epic amounts of pressure we place on ourselves to be everything to everyone? And to look good doing it, too?

I'm calling it mompetition because, well, that's what it is. I'm eyeing you because I want to know how you managed to shower, wear clean & cute clothes, and have happy children all on the same day. I'm mad at Pinterest because every recipe for homemade yogurt or DIY bug repellant is just so easy and staring me right in the face...taunting me...telling me all the cool moms are doing it. I'm glaring at you because you found time to work out and probably even did push-ups with your kid sitting on your back eating sugar snap peas, and I, well, didn't.

You all win. I lose. I fail again.

Of course, no one makes me feel this way. I do it myself. It's my own insecurity, shortcomings, and high expectations that earn me just a participant's ribbon at the mompetition. It's my guilt over not breastfeeding my children until they turned two and letting them watch some cartoons in the morning while I get dressed. And before bed. And probably while I make dinner. It's my guilt over the times when I can't get Noelle to eat fruits and vegetables while other kids are inhaling avocados and hummus and kale chips like there's no tomorrow. It's my guilt that the house is rarely picked up when my husband comes home and dinner is only a phone call away (pizza? Thai? carside to go?) and I know he just has to be thinking and what is it that you do all day?

Those other kids must be happier. Those other husbands must love their wives more. 

I've got to stop this way of thinking. If I could just flip my mindset and believe that the real mompetition is competing against the clock, making the most of each and every minute with my girls, I may realize that I'm not as big of a loser as I once thought. If mompetition could be beating your own personal record of daily boo-boo kissing, tangled hair coming, Disney movie watching, or bedtime story reading...if it could be making a gooey-er PB&J sandwich than yesterday's or building a taller block tower or making this bath time's bubble beard a little longer...if it could be seeing which will make my girls more excited-- finger paint or play doh? bubbles or sidewalk chalk? sprinkler or baby pool? hot chocolate or ice cream? If it could be realizing that my girls get smarter, happier, and kinder every day, regardless of how clean my house is or how long it took me to prepare dinner...if all of that could be the real mompetition, then I think we are all doing a lot better than we thought. We are all winning.

Let's not forget that somedays, mompetition might mean that your kid cried louder than the day before or threw a more epic tantrum in the Disney princess aisle or successfully stalled bedtime longer than ever. We all have those days. Still winning.

And when my 3 year old chugs my Diet Coke when I leave the room? Well, there's always tomorrow.

2 comments

  1. Well said. Thanks for sharing your experience. Your friend, Jenna, shared your post on her Facebook wall. It's resonating with many moms. Keep up the great thoughts!
    http://middleofthemess.wordpress.com

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  2. Well said. I feel exactly the same way sometimes, too.

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