Monday, August 20, 2012

Who else hates the word mompetition?

Have you ever personally experienced another mom judging you for your choices?  (Knock on wood) I never have.  Am I just lucky (or clueless) or do you think the amount of mommy-competition is overestimated?  Is it just because I live in the Midwest, where people are almost always nice?

Part of it is my definition.  I know there’s a lot of rudeness/meanness on the internet and I’m sure most of you have had trolls post a nasty comment on your website, but I’m not talking about that.  I’m talking about a face-to-face snub.  Like when you say you use formula and someone makes a face or when someone says “how can you send your child to a daycare center?”

When I never had a mean comment about breastfeeding/formula I just assumed it was because I was on the so-called “right” side of the debate, being a breastfeeder.  I haven’t heard of many formula-feeding moms publicly telling other moms breastfeeding is stupid.  But even after I had to start supplementing when Meg was 9 months old, no one ever told me I hadn’t tried hard enough.  No one (but ME) said if I’d just pumped longer or took more milk-boosting supplements or quit my job so I wouldn’t have to pump, I’d have been able to “save” Meg from the evil that is formula.  In fact, many moms encouraged me.  They said the amount of effort I was putting into pumping wasn’t worth it.  They told me a couple bottles of formula a day wouldn’t hurt her and some breastmilk is better than none.  These were mostly stay-at-home moms (at MOPS) who breastfed their children for a year or more, and they encouraged me.

I thought stay-at-home vs. working moms is the area where I’d really be left out, since I work part-time.  I figured stay-at-home moms would label me as a “working mom” and pity my daycare-going baby.  I thought working moms would say snarky things like “it must be nice to only have to work three days a week” in a tone of voice that implies I spend two days a week sitting around eating bonbons.  I thought if I attempted to commiserate with either group, they’d act like I shouldn’t complain since I have it so easy.  That if I said some days being home with the baby is really hard, the SAHers would say “try doing it ALL THE TIME” or if I complained about a long day at work, the WOHers would say “at least you don’t have to work tomorrow.”  Hasn’t happened yet.

And those are only an example of two things moms “compete” over.  I’ve never had a conversation with another mom about vaccines.  Or cloth diapers.  No one has ever come up to me and said “I can’t believe you have disposable diapers in your diaper bag.”  Have you ever experienced anything like this?  Either a stranger (maybe someone gave you a dirty look while you fed your child a bottle) or someone you know judging a choice you made as a mother?


  1. I haven't (but it's early--my son is only 3 months). I do, however, fear that someone is going to tell me I'm doing something wrong in public. Like the car seat isn't tight enough or I don't have him situated properly on the moby wrap. OR the biggest one (which wouldn't likely come from another mom): that someone will make a negative comment about me breastfeeding in public.

  2. I've not been judged a lot, probably because I also tend to fall on the "right" side of the issues. I have been judged for immunizing my kid and for having an epidural and ultrasounds, but that mom was a nutcase, so that doesn't really count. Most of the judging I get is for Elizabeth's behavior. She's super tall for her age, so people expect her to act like a five year old, not a three year old. I also used to get a lot of "why is that kid still in a stroller?" (Because she's a year and a half old, people!" And not only is she tall, but she's spirited, so her behavior can really stick out in public. Not that we let her misbehave, but she's boisterous so we get a lot of judging looks for that.

    1. I did judge you pretty harshly for her dental care.

      Seriously though, I think people are a lot more likely to project their insecurities on the "other side" and assume that they're being judged than to actually judge those who are doing things differently.

  3. I haven't really either, and I think part of it is our region (I'm in Iowa also). I agree that I've been on the "right" side most of the time also. I'm also oblivious to some things. We took our girls to the state fair a couple weeks ago and I put the 4yo in the stroller. Sure, she's too big for it, but we would have had to leave after like 10am if she didn't have somewhere to sit/ride. Even the 9yo took a turn for awhile in it. I'm sure we got looks for that, but I didn't notice. I think I also might give off some sort of "don't even think of saying anything about the way I'm doing things" vibe. That was a good question :)

  4. I don't think I really have. But one of my best friends works for a big company that has people sell stuff from home - like Avon or that kind of thing (it's not Avon). One of her jobs is to train the at-home salespeople on new products and how to be better sellers. She said she gets comments ALL THE TIME about how she is a bad mom b/c she doesn't stay at home with her kids. And yet, these people NEED her to not stay at home so that they can earn money from home. It's ridiculous.

  5. I live in the Land of the Elderly, so yeah, I've gotten judgy comments and stink eyes about breastfeeding. I've had another mother insinuate that my boys were probably going to get autism from vaccines.

  6. I have a friend who, very passive-aggressively, judges how I parent my child. She makes little comments about Eriana's behavior and how I correct it. When Eriana was much smaller she would make comments about how Eriana was playing me, and what worked for her, even though her first born is COMPLETELY different than Eriana. It's really frustrating, but overall I enjoy her friendship, and I don't see her that often.

    I, thankfully, didn't get any crap about supplementing and then switching to formula because I had so much trouble and really tried. I do get crap about cloth diapering because many of my IRL friends think it's gross and call me a hippie. :)

  7. I think most of the judgement I've received has been from myself, believe it or not. I, like you, fought SO HARD to keep nursing because I felt like I HAD to, even though by that point there was nothing left in my boobs and Lorelai was miserable and I was even more miserable. For a long time, I felt like I was "failing" at cloth diapering if I ever used disposables (as a result, I have some diapers that have Triple Paste residue and need to be stripped because I was too stubborn to use disposables during bad rashes even though I knew it was bad for the diapers). Looking back, I think I had a lot of anxiety and emotional issues postpartum that I didn't recognize as been issues at the time, and I was trying to be Supermom because I'd left work so being a mom was now my only job. I'm much happier now that I recognize that nothing is all-or-nothing, and that I can watch TV instead of cleaning sometimes and things won't fall apart.

    I live in Attachment Parenting Land, so I feel like I get dirty looks when I have L in a stroller rather than a carrier. But she doesn't like the Ergo anymore! She can see stuff better in a stroller! And I KNOW I'm going to get dirty looks for the toddler leash I just bought but I DO NOT CARE. See what it feels like to have your kid break free and run through a parking lot, and then tell me I'm a terrible mother for keeping her safe by putting a leash on her, Judgy Attachment Moms. Ugh.

  8. Like Erin, I've put most of the pressure on myself I think. I certainly haven't gotten any comments from strangers yet, but E is still pretty little and, because I work full time, I... don't end up in that many 'in public' situations where it would happen.

    I have gotten judgy comments from male coworkers, mostly when I was pregnant, about dietary choices. "You're drinking diet coke? You're going to mess up your baby!" says the IDIOT TOXICOLOGIST. I mean, seriously?

    I've heard from friends that the SAHM/Working mom thing gets rough once kids are in school, and there are imbalances in volunteering for school stuff (room mothers? I don't know.), but I'm hoping it won't be as bad as I fear, and I'm also thinking, once again, I will make myself feel guiltier than anyone else every will.

  9. I've never gotten anything overt or face-to-face, but yeah, I've felt the implications. Way too many moms who work outside the home have given me "the tone" when they ask "so, do you work?" yes, lady, I work my tush off. And if you've met my daughter, you'd know that it's not a walk in the park to hang out with her all day. (I love her, but WOW can she be a handful!) I have a lot of respect for both WOH moms and SAH moms. I did the half/half thing while Fuss was tiny (6 mos until 2.5 years - and I took her with me on my job, so I was doing double duty at that point!) but since my son was born, I've been a SAH. Seriously, there is no "easy" choice. There are major positives and negatives to either. Same with breastfeeding vs formula. I haven't come anywhere near the cloth diaper thing - I am impressed with those who do it - I just can't handle touching the poopy diapers. I hate changing the 'sposies.

  10. I've felt judged quite often about my parenting, but always by the same person. And she judges me and my husband in ALL our choices so I ignore it.