The second a woman becomes a mom she is forever changed. The entrepreneur, wife, cook, and anything else that she was all take a backseat to this screaming, squealing bundle of joy; the woman is replaced by a mother. The second we become moms we are no longer the people we once were; we are moms.
As moms, we feel it is our sole responsibility to love, protect, teach, and encourage our children. We feel guilty if we are not present for every accomplishment, no matter how small, every scraped knee, hurt feeling, and ear-to-ear grin. Nothing matters quite as much as being a mother, and nothing ever will again.
While this sounds like motherhood bliss, it also leads to some not so blissful things. As moms, we take such pride in our children that we want them to be the absolute best; we want everyone else to see our children the same way that we do, and for that our children have to prove themselves. This is where the loving, proud, encouraging mom is replaced by competitive mom; and sometimes she takes things a bit too far. We push our children too hard, expect too much, and forget that we are supposed to be their cheerleaders, not their drill sergeants.
Here are a few reminders for the competitive mom that resides within each one of us.
Stop the Comparisons
One thing that nearly every mom is guilty of is comparing her child to others. “Molly started walking last month, and our baby is just barely starting to crawl; something must be wrong with her!” Calm down. Every single baby develops at a different pace and each will reach major milestones at different times. One of the worst things you can do is expect your child to be exactly the same as another child.
When she’s a baby, your child will have no idea what’s going on. As she grows, however, she’ll start to see that you want her to be like other people’s children and she’ll begin to feel like she’s not good enough. The last thing you want to do is stomp all over your child’s self-esteem.
As moms, our job is to encourage our kids and help them to succeed; we cannot shove success down their throats, and trying to do so will only drive them away from us. Each child will have his own set of strengths and weaknesses and a mother’s job is to encourage the strengths and cater to the weaknesses; we can’t all be good at everything.
The competitive mom often comes out when other moms have children who are enrolled in things like beauty pageants and talent shows; especially if the child is excelling at them. Moms begin to feel like our children are not doing enough; they should be the ones shining on that stage! If your child is interested in something like that, then sure, sign them up and enjoy the experience. But don’t force your child into competitions just to try and outdo another child or prove that yours is the best.
Children really don’t care about competitions, trophies, and titles; they learn to care because you teach them to. They would rather spend the day watching movies and eating cookies with you than being paraded around in front of an audience.
It’s Little League, Not the NBA
Moms who enroll their children in sports are perhaps some of the most competitive you will ever see. They are shouting from the bleachers, yelling at other moms, and often even yelling at other children. Stop and think about why you enrolled your child in the first place; you wanted him to learn to be a part of a team, right? How is he supposed to learn the value of teamwork and sportsmanship if all he hears is you screaming at him and everyone else the entire game?
Pushing him too hard and expecting too much will only make him start hating the sport. He won’t want to play and he definitely will not do well. Likewise, he will learn that anger and aggression are okay from your example. The point of little league is for children to have fun, play together, and be part of a team. Winning is always great, but it’s not everything.
You are supposed to be teaching your child that it’s not about winning; if you are trying to show up the other moms by pushing him to win, he will only start believing that you are not proud of him unless he wins.
Does it really matter if your child is the first in the playgroup to start walking? Is it really important if your child gets better grades than the neighbor’s? Is the world going to be changed because your child won first place in a sack race? At some point we’ve got to give the competitive mom in us a reality check and remind her that our children are amazing and special all on their own; they don’t need us to make them that way.
What matters most is that our children feel loved and accepted and that they know they make us proud each and every day. What matters is that they are encouraged to do whatever it is they love to do; whether it’s composing their own concertos or burping the alphabet. Tell the competitive mom to take a breather and just spend time with your children. Soon enough they will be up and grown and we will have spent so much time pushing them to be the best that we realize we never took the time to just be.