Mothering is Not a Woe is Me Olympics

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I’d like to say that I remember most of my inflated preconception of motherhood bliss during my first and only pregnancy, but one year later I’m simply glad to have survived it all. The first year was the most voluntarily demanding experience I’ve ever had, but it’s 100% worth it when I look at my little boy…

This is the point where the one-up mom of two chimes in to remind us all of how much more difficult her life has been.

That’s the problem, moms. It’s not a competition.

I spent some time wondering when was the last time I’ve heard a mother spiel about a moment that was natural and easy during motherhood. A moment when she truly felt like an Amazonian and immediately grew two inches in stature from that brief accomplishment. But what’s the fun in being great at mothering when you can complain about the difficulties?

Life gets hard at times, and motherhood is right there with it. Daily. Nonstop. A reminder of how quickly life changes and grows right before your eyes. And with that growth, there’s the definite need to purge, and vent. It’s ok to even bring the tears because mothering is hard, guys. It’s even a bitch at times.

What’s with the one-upping?

Now this one-upping I speak of is a whole new mutated species I wasn’t aware of until recently. Either because I couldn’t be bothered until I actually had a child of my own, or maybe because motherhood wasn’t necessarily my ultimate goal in life, until my son chose me. I’d be honest, freedom is delicious, but motherhood pleases my palette.

I’ll tell you what doesn’t taste great — the words of a mom who is determined to prove that her struggle is the struggle of all struggles. Listen honey — we all struggle. We’re all different, and so are our journeys. But one thing stands — the struggle exists.

This awful tasting one-upping comes in the form of that mom whose kid happens to make the mess of all messes, who hurts more, who gets the bigger headache daily. She wallows in her ability to attempt to display that her effort is greater than other moms because her struggle is the Everest of struggles. We see you, mom.

Wish we didn’t, tho.

What happens when faced with the one-upping struggle mom, is a lovely bit of exhaustive conversation and inner eye-rolling.

Are one-upping moms closet narcissists?

An observant non-parent mentioned the next point to me — We as moms need to do a better job at differentiating between humblebragging, venting, and a genuine cry for help. For others, at times it can get quite confusing. Are you saying you hate being a mom, are you looking for me to applaud you for handling a really challenging parenting moment, or do you need a hug?

He was genuinely confused, and I immediately read what he meant. A one-upping mom can easily be seen as a narcissist and he sensed it. Now hear me out.

The basic characteristics of a narcissist are:

  • Grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Delusions of grandeur
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Need for praise and admiration

A one-upping mom won’t think that her kid's shit doesn’t stink, but instead is bigger and stinkier than other kids' shit. A one-upping mom also plays the role of the bully who feels the need to devalue another parent’s experience. I’ve met one of those, and I chuckled at the desperate attempt to be seen as a better mom when no-one present truly cared.

So how do you handle these one-upping moms?

I employed three different tactics that worked relatively ok for me — but of course, everyone’s different.

When faced with a mom of that species you can:

  1. Empathize bluntly e.g. say “ Well, that sucks.”
  2. Praise yourself e.g. say “ Well I’m happy I was able to [achieve whatever I did] with [given obstacles] excluding [one-upping mom’s obstacles].
  3. Offer a cookie.

At the end of the day, each mom has the desire to feel as though their effort was not in vain. Child-rearing moments are all valuable, and should not be diminished by other moms. Mothers of all walks of life face so many different species of challenges daily, it’s simply unfair to compare the journeys to such a lovely reward.

At the beginning of the day, there’s no one standing with a gun at the starting lineup — but if there was, it would definitely be a powerful and savage display. So for moms out there who need to hear this — could we just stop the one-upping.

It’s exhausting.

You’d read the rest of this Medium Article, but your kid just broke the phone in the vilest way possible?

Sure.

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