Mompetition: The ugly side of parenting nobody warned me about
When I was pregnant, it seemed like I was inundated with people offering opinions and advice about being a new mom. From breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding to epidurals vs. natural birth, everybody had words of wisdom to share. However, there was something my friends and family failed to mention: mompetition.
You might think I’m off my rocker, that I’m just making up nonsense. But trust me, it’s a thing. In fact, mompetition is so notorious, it has it’s own listing on Urban Dictionary, which defines it as “the one-up rivalry that moms play, making their child seem better, smarter and/or more advanced than yours.”
For example, you might be talking with one of your mom friends and celebrating a new milestone in your child’s life, like the first time she rolls over or says her first word, to which your friend replies, “Well, my little Susie was walking at 5 months and now she’s going to college at age 2.”Boom. You just got mompetitioned.
Now, that example is a little extreme and unrealistic, but it is illustrative of our nature as moms to one-up one another when it comes to our children. As a new mom, I was totally unprepared when it first happened to me.
There I was, playing with my 3 month old, when I got on Facebook to see a new video from my sister-in-law of her 1 month old rolling over. Since my daughter hadn’t rolled over, yet, I felt this jealousy well up within me, as if I needed to defend my daughter’s lack of rolling ability. I found myself on the floor next to her, barking, “roll over! Come on, Ray, roll over for mommy!” Our schnauzer just sat there judging me in amused confusion.
My friends, that was my first day as a mompetitee, and it was ugly. I’d like to say it only happened once. I’d like to believe I’m above that. But, as Paul tells us in Romans, we all fall short, and mompetition is rooted in the wickedness of our hearts known as sin. Insecurity. Pride. Covetousness. The underlying motives for mompetition are many, but they all come back to the same basic human condition: depravity.
So, as mothers under grace, how do we avoid mompetition? And what do we do when we find ourselves engaged in it?
1. Remember our identity in Christ. We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). We are ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). We are the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:17). We are personal witnesses of Christ’s (Acts 1:8). We misrepresent Christ and His work in our lives by playing the mompetition game.
2. Repent from the underlying sin fueling our mompetitive desires. For me, personally, I struggle with covetousness. As a result, I’m constantly preaching Philippians 4:11-13 to my wretched self: Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all these things through him who strengthens me.
3. Refuse to participate. 2 Timothy 2:23, “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” If you have a mom friend who tells you about an achievement her child has accomplished, celebrate with her. Acknowledge and affirm her. Don’t interject with how your child has been there, done that, and already grown out of the t-shirt.
Being a mom is hard enough without the added struggle of competing with one another. So let’s refuse to be a part of it and just enjoy doing life together instead.