Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Competing Over Guilt

I've been wondering lately if I am suffering from Mommy Guilt or from Mommy Competitiveness. Being on leave means I've had the chance to really connect with other moms, including stay at home moms.

My friend Nicole is an awesome cook and does such a great job providing healthy food for her kids. My friend K uses cloth diapers and volunteers for her church in addition to being a working mom (at my Big Firm) and my friend C handles her family's finances.

There are kid comparisons (and observations), spouse discussions, parenting techniques, etc. It is very useful and is a breeding ground for Mommy Guilt. Or is it really Mommy Competitiveness? I know I have a really horrible competitive streak in me - it was fostered in my childhood by my mom who encouraged my sisters and I to compete which was easy to do when we were in the same grade.

I think I need to find a mom niche for myself to tap down the Mommy Guilt/Competitiveness. It won't be homemade food or crafty projects. Any ideas for me? How do you keep Mommy Guilt/Competitiveness at bay when you are on playdates or talking to other moms?*

*And if you write that you don't ever feel competitive/guilty then I'm going to have to feel competitive/guilty about that!


LauraC said...

I am Traveling Spouse Working Mom.
That absolves me of all guilt (as I hope it can for you). I am doing the best I can do. The kids and I had fish sticks and tater tots for dinner with Jon gone last night.

Not perfect, but anything more and I lose ME in the equation, which I am not willing to sacrifice.

Josh Anisfeld said...

Dads get guilt too! I actually just posted a new blogpost about this very thing...although a different type of guilt.


Anonymous said...

Similar to Laura, as a single mom of twins, I do the best I can. If someone else is doing something I'm intrigued by, I look at it and see if we can work it in. But at this point (my girls are 2.75) we've found what works for us.

I think I'm also lucky in that I surrounded myself with other non-competitive moms. That definitely helps!

Nicole S. said...

I think it has to be tied to something that you enjoy. Like LauraC said, you don't want to lose you. I happen to like cooking and I have become passionate about nutritious homemade food. So for me, its not about being a good parent as much as it's something that does make me happy.

I know that you love to intellectually stimulate your kids - you are a smart, successful, overachiever type (takes one to know one!!) so let that guide you. Just don't buy them "your baby can read" DVDs or I might lose all respect for you :)

As for mommy competitiveness, its SO out there. I wish it weren't but we all succumb to it, even more than the mommy guilt, IMO. Not sure if its more with SAHMs but for us (as you've been experiencing) we have nothing else. That's part of the reason I miss working, especially in a job that's demanding. I would never go back to that kind of work but that's one aspect of it I really enjoyed.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

If I don't watch it, I definitely get competitive quickly but I really try not to let it go over into parenting. It's very hard though when people start discussing the milestones and whatnot.

I try to focus on my awesomeness (a la Motherstyles) and see others' gifts as THEIR awesomeness too. Like the scrapbooking mothers........ LOL

Liz Jimenez said...

I think we have a tendency to be in awe of things that other moms do that we don't, while overlooking/downplaying the things we choose to do. Everyone puts their energies into different things, whether through priorities or interests.

But yes, there's certainly competitiveness out there, both that we internalize and bring on ourselves, and that other crazy-ass people foster. Ah well, what can you do.

Stacey said...

I don't have too many friends here with kids so there isn't much of the competitive aspect. As for guilt, occasionally I regret things like lack of food variety for Cameron. But then I try to give her something new and all she will eat is ketchup so I get over it. Lately I've been focusing more on ME with weight loss and exercise and I think that is the greatest gift to Cameron, me and Jeremy. And just to be the devil's advocate....ask yourself how you can have guilt/competitiveness now while on maternity and imagine how bad it will be when you return to work! Bwah ha ha ha ha.

Anonymous said...

I experience no guilt & no competitiveness. By default, mothers of multiples have achieved awesomeness just by getting through the day, period. If we made it through the day with everyone clean & fed, and no one lost or with a life threatening injury, the day was a success. I choose to set the bar pretty low (as a working mom of 3 very active boys) and we are ALL better off for it!! Its alot of nonsense how much pressure moms put on themselves today - step off that guilt treadmill and feel the relief, that's my advice.

Kathryn said...

I have a lot of guilt, but not much competativeness (am quite sure I spelled this incorrectly!). The lack of the latter stems from the fact that I just. don't. have. time. I feel so guilty about so many thing (we don't go to the library enough, I am too quick to rely on the TV, I don't do puzzles or crafts, etc. etc. ad nauseum). But, strangely -- or maybe as a result? -- I don't feel competative about my "mothering". I was reading a wonderful book last night called "Mitten Strings for God," written in a very lovely Buddhist perspective about how to stop the madness and spend quality time with your children. Yet, as much as I LOVE the suggestions the writer presents, I'm also like, "Um, yeah, when am I going to take a storytelling class so that I can tell stories to my kids?" And then, just as I was feeling sorry for myself, I had a mini late-night epiphay (because, of course, I was reading this at 11:30 p.m. since I had been working until 11 p.m.): who says that working isn't as good as staying home? For me, personally, that is? My nanny is awesome and loves to do all that stuff with them. I don't love it, so I make money to pay for said nanny, and then I get to do what I WANT to do with the children (read to them, snuggle with them, take them to the diner on weekends) instead of what I would feel I SHOULD be doing on the weekdays, were I home (e.g., puzzles, making healthy food, etc. -- all of which I am not good at.) Does this make ANY sense? I probalby am just staying what LauraC said, albeit in a rambling way. (Clearly, I am killing time at the office until I can walk out the door at 4 on this holiday weekend!) xoxo

Anonymous said...

When I went back to work, I had to more or less cut off all ties to the mom friends I made while I was on leave. As a result, I don't have much to compare myself to or feel guilty about on the day to day. But on the few occasions when I did see them, I felt quite jealous. They get to go on their playdates, and starbucks runs, hikes and outtings at the park. Meanwhile, I just consider it a victory if I make it home in time to read him a book before he goes to sleep.
So, in the abstract I know I'm not getting as much face time or doing as much with my son, I don't have to face that fact every day by measuring up to someone else. Rather, I measure myself every week against what the previous week was like -- so, maybe better meals, maybe more bath time, and I celebrate those little victories. And if a week sucks, I promise myself that next week will be better.