Jan 24, 2012

Posted in Amusing, Current Events, Parenting, Tae Kwon Do | 0 Comments

Challenging the Mompetition

I was touring a middle school recently when I recognized the mom volunteering at the sign-in desk. We said our hellos and she proceeded to give me the 411 on the school, based on her older children’s experiences there. Her kids are in the prestigious math academy and she bragged, “Quite honestly, all the other academies are a mess. Science and Civics are for the kids who can’t get into the Math Academy.” Another mom friend of mine on the tour, whose daughter was interested in the Civics Academy, looked visibly deflated as this poison dart hit home. Exasperated as I was with her unprovoked attack, I had to admire her speed and stealth, honed by years of practice. She managed to get a brag AND a put down in within the first two sentences – A Master Mompetitior indeed.

There’s no really no way around it. The playground and after-school pick up is really a gladiator ring full of blood thirsty mompetitors who live vicariously through their children’s accomplishments and need to one-up their perceived rivals at every opportunity. Maybe that’s why I always stand off by myself and bury myself in my phone to avoid small talk with other moms whenever possible. My hands aren’t clean either. I’ll admit to getting sucked into these conversations and feeling the need to parry back when I’m cornered by another aggressive mompetitor, but I always hate myself for it later. Even when I don’t rise to the bait, my eyes glaze over with boredom at the endless prattle about child-rearing minutiae and milestones.

I am so so ridiculously proud of my boys, don’t get me wrong. Given the opportunity, I brag about them endlessly…to my husband, their grandparents, uncle, aunt and other family members who are as biased as I am to their wonderfulness. That’s what family is for. Other acquaintances and friends, not so much.

Let me issue a challenge to the Master Mompetitors out there: When was the last time your kids cheered YOU on for something YOU accomplished and/or bragged about YOU to their friends? I’m not talking about a kid-centric accomplishment like baking the fanciest, gluten-free, organic, sugar-free cupcakes for a class party or selling the most girl scout cookies. I’m talking about an accomplishment that is solely your own and totally independent of your identity as a mom.

Call me self-involved, but I’m simply too busy pursuing my own interests to actively engage in this mompetition. I have so much that I want to learn, do, accomplish and experience in this short lifetime besides being a mom. The nice side effect of pursuing interests outside of my parenting bubble is that my boys see me as someone other than the house elf. When I ran my first 5K last year and trained for my black belt in tae kwon do, it was amazing to see my kids on the sidelines cheering me on for a change. Their faces beaming with excitement and their cheers of, “Go Mommy! Yeah Mom!” ringing in my ears. When my 5-year-old tested for his yellow belt, he watched another student break a board. I saw him lean towards a classmate and say, “That’s nothing, my mommy can break a brick.” I reprimanded him for whispering during a belt test, but I had to swallow the lump in my throat. Overhearing my son bragging about me – now that is my proudest mommy moment.


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