We’re having some landscape work done at our new house, and the guys doing the work like to listen to a local radio station while they’re here doing their thing. The other day I was outside wiping my dogs’ muddy feet (for the 1437th time), and I happened to hear the DJs on the radio station commenting about what makes a “competitive mom.” The DJs were two men and a woman, and they seemed to be reading a list of things they had found somewhere about what supposedly makes someone a competitive mom.
I was a bit surprised to hear these radio personalities discussing this topic, and as I was listening to their conversation, I was thinking to myself what a ridiculous thing it was for them to be talking about. I’ve heard of the concept of a “competitive mom,” I suppose. More often I’ve heard disparaging remarks about “Pinterest moms” and “overachieving moms.” Whoever compiled the list these DJs were reading on air seemed to have combined all of these mom stereotypes into one to create this inventory of seemingly offensive things a mom can do to qualify her as “competitive.” Here are a few that I remember (paraphrased):
- Spend weeks making costumes for your kid’s school play
- Bake over-the-top baked goods for your child’s school bake sale
- Make sure your child always has the latest and greatest gadgets
- Arrive a half and hour early to save front row seats for your child’s performance in something
There were a few more they mentioned, but these are the ones that stuck in my memory. For each one, the male DJs would read the offense, and the female DJ would scoff at it, as if it was a completely ridiculous thing, and basically say, “No way, I would never do that.” As if actually baking items for a bake sale instead of buying them from a bakery was a terrible thing for a mom to do.
I attempted to look up the list, and found what seems to be the same one (interestingly on a different radio station’s website). Here are a few more of the “offenses”:
- Make fancy desserts for your kids to pass out on their birthday
- Throw amazing parties for events such as Halloween, Easter, and Christmas
- Make the most amazing and expensive party bags for favors
- Enrolling their kids in extracurricular classes like music or computers
You can look at the rest of the list here if you’re interested.
So, here’s what I think about this list, and other lists like it: they are utterly stupid.
Now, I’ll say that I can probably think of a few characteristics or behaviors that might lead me to think of someone as a competitive mom. Most moms have probably experienced interactions with or heard stories about the “one-up” mom or the pushy mom who insists you do things the same way she does or you’re wrong.
But honestly, ridiculing moms for going the extra mile for their kids is just a jerky thing to do. Maybe there are some moms who go overboard to try to compete with other moms, but I have never had the feeling that another mom was baking cupcakes or PTA-ing at me. Most of the time I think that moms do the things they do for their kids because they love them and they want to show them in ways that they might just to be especially talented in.
I happen to really enjoy throwing special birthday parties for my kids, complete with fun favor bags that go with the party’s theme.
I also love sewing and/or otherwise crafting cute decorations for my kids’ bedrooms. It’s just my thing.
Once I baked really ugly pumpkin cupcakes for Miss’s kindergarten Halloween party. I’m a terrible baker, and I was so excited that I actually used real pumpkin in them, that I mentioned this to a few other moms.
Did they think I was bragging or trying to compete with them? I sure hope not, but maybe.
I’d like to think that instead of rolling our eyes at or ridiculing moms for doing things we might not choose to do, we could just say instead, “Wow, that was such a cool party she threw for her kid, she must really like doing stuff like that,” Or “She has such a skill at baking, how cool that she shares it in that way to support her kids”?
I think it’s awesome for a mom to spend extra time doing something special for her little ones. And I’ll bet that 99 times out of 100, that mom is only thinking of the joy her efforts will bring to her kids, and not about anyone else at all.
The idea of the “competitive mom” is probably not a complete myth, but I do believe it is a highly overblown and misrepresented notion. What do you think?