How To Make Motherhood Less Competitive

Being a mother is hard.

And we don’t make it any easier by turning this already tough gig into a competition.

The competition often looks something like this: We compare ourselves at our worst to other mothers at their best. We never feel quite good enough and always assume that other mothers have this day job down pat when we see their picture perfect pictures on Facebook.

They’ve got their act together and we suck. Good for them, but sucks for us.

It makes my stomach and (very un-toned) abs hurt just thinking about the competitive sport that plays out across the sisterhood of motherhood – making our already long days feel even longer.

We’re all guilty of it.

95% of the time we feel like terrible mothers, so when our kids have their cute clothes on and their curls in place we snap the perfect photo and share on social media in a way that would put the paparazzi to shame.

My friend Lauren refers to Facebook as “Fakebook” for this very reason.

I might have even indulged in this behavior this today.

The intention is sincere and often born out of insecurity, “Look at me. I didn’t screw this day or this moment up.” But the consequences can get competitive if one mother who is having a tough day spends time scrolling through social media looking at everyone else’s amazing days.

One mother’s good day is another mother’s bad day.

Oops and ouch. And the cycle continues.

I think it’s time to turn this competitive sport on its head.

Do mothers believe that almost every other mother on the planet is doing a better job at being a mother?  

Yes, they do. 

But in smaller circles in the company and protection of trusted friends they also engage in a game of one-upmanship when it comes to all the things they’re doing wrong.

13240082_10155055217744848_5479011031447751739_nAnd this particular sport is so much more fun.

Here’s how the game goes:

Mom 1: I forgot to send lunch to school with Michael on Tuesday. I felt terrible.

Mom 2:  You think that’s bad, I forgot Spirit Day on Wednesday and Abby was the only one in the entire school not dressed up. 

Mom 3: You think that’s bad, I drove for the field trip last week and went to the wrong museum, so Charlie and his friends missed the entire trip.

Mom 1: Oh wow, I don’t feel so terrible anymore.  

If motherhood is going to be a competitive sport why not engage in this version of the sport?

If we’re going to play, let’s play this way.

Everybody wins. We feel better, other mothers feel better, and we feel less alone.

Beneath the surface of this version of the sport, there’s the support that we’ve been looking for all along. The more honest you are about the bumps and bruises and bad days, the more support you’ll receive.

It’s not rocket science.

Julie Neale, a fellow mom who writes about mindfulness, posted a great Mother’s Day tribute last year with a picture of her son Jake losing his mind because she wouldn’t give him any more bunny crackers.

julie sonIn her post, Julie said this:

“My truth as a mom is that motherhood is nothing I imagined it would be and so much more. The messy moments are many, but there are also moments of indescribable richness, made all the more worthwhile because of the challenge, discomfort and uncertainty that preceded it.”

Good job, mom. Way to be bold and way to be brave on Mother’s Day of all days.

And I love the notion that Julie shared.

Motherhood is filled with both mess and magic.

Let’s not leave the competitive sport to just the magic. Let’s bring in the mess.

It might make you uncomfortable the first time you try it, but go ahead and try it. Put some of your mess out there, either on social media or in person and sit back and watch the love and watch the competition take a completely different turn.

You won’t even have to entice your friends to one-up your mess.

They’ll have dozens of their own examples to choose from and they’ll readily share because you were brave enough to change the game.

Ready, go.

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