Since I can remember, life has seemed like a competition to me. I think many people struggle with this. I think women especially struggle with this. Who is skinnier? Prettier? The better athlete? Who gets the all the guys attention? Who became a cheerleader? Who got into the most prestigious college? Who’s career took off first? Who got married first? It’s a never ending cycle. While some competition is healthy and motivating, if it becomes a constant source of stress, it can really hurt a person’s mental health. Being a someone who was picked on through high school, I am always trying to prove myself and make new friends. Becoming a mother does not help this.
When you become a mom there are so many things that feel like a competition. I can think of several just off the top of my head that I felt like I failed at:
- I saw a woman in the airport, standing in line, breastfeeding like a pro. I couldn’t breastfeed with my children. I never produced more than an ounce of breast milk when pumping. To add to that, to get them to latch all the stars in the sky had to align, the baby had to be in a great mood (which if they’re my child and hungry, that’s not possible), and about 7 people had to hold my breast a certain way and then shove the baby onto it. Needless to say, I felt inadequate and like I was left out of the breastfeeding club, instead of thinking, “Way to go, you rock at feeding that baby.”
- One of my friends, who has four children, and I were sitting in a small room at a funeral. As I watched her and her kids, I was amazed at how awesome her kids just sat and ate. Not only ate, they ate healthy food and didn’t complain. Dinner time is the worst part of the day for me. Unless I am feeding my child hot dogs, cotton candy (I don’t know if she’s ever had cotton candy but I’ll make a sugar based assumption here), and popsicles, dinner is a fight. Forget if she ate it yesterday, she doesn’t like it today and you’re crazy to assume that she might. I should have just told my friend how awesome she was rocking it as a mom and not focused on the fact that I only have two children who are crazy people at the dinner table.
- Three words: Skinny. Postpartum. Moms. Nothing can make you feel worse when you see a mom who just gave birth looking like Heidi Klum at the top of her career: flat belly, hair done, make up on and has clearly showered. Meanwhile, you still have the stomach of a woman who is six months pregnant, haven’t showered in 3 days and there is chewed up goldfish stuck in your hair. At this point, you take a sip of your Starbucks and another bite of your donut, while you drag your screaming child to the car. We could just keep believing, “I’ll get there, this is just a season and this too shall pass,” but we don’t.
So I’m here to say: STOP. Stop the competition. Stop comparing yourself to the next mom. Stop comparing your kids to the kids down the street. Stop comparing your career, that is on hold, while you stay at home with your kids, to the working mom who is rocking it in the workplace. Stop feeling guilty because you are working full or part time out of the home. Stop worrying about what you look like. Stop wishing you could be the ultimate Pinterest mom.
Here’s a secret: NONE OF IT MATTERS. You were chosen to be that child’s mom whether you became a mom through childbirth or through adoption. You are the one your child runs to when they get hurt or do something really awesome. You are the one that makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cuts them just the way that they like. You are their mom. Nothing will change that. Kids don’t care if your belly is flat, your hair is done, if you breastfed or bottle fed. They care that you’re their mom. They care that you are there to give the hugs, fix the ouchies and love them with every ounce of your being. So tighten that top knot and remember: you are a mom and you are awesome.