What is mompetition, you ask? I am going to describe my journey of discovering mompetition and its negativity that has affected both me and Luke. Read on, if you are curious about this funny word and its meaning....
Obviously derived from the word competition, "mompetition" is the often unspoken competitive nature existing between two or more mothers. (I am not sure if I created the word; I doubt it. I did think it up on my own, but others before me may have been just a clever!) Mompetition is based not on women's competition over things like career, clothes, financial status, as is often the case among women without children or with grown or adult children; rather this form of competition related to the ways in which women raise their children. I have witnessed this with others and felt a sense of this myself.
Mompetition is about who is a better parent, how attentive a mother is to her baby or children, which discipline methods she chooses, or even whether her baby uses a pacifier or doesn't. This competitive nature seems to stem from a sense of what is right and wrong, and the strong beliefs we hold about such matters. What we do or don't do with our children is of supreme importance to many parents. For example, it was very important to me to breastfeed Luke. I did not want to feed him formula, and so I read about breastfeeding as the one and only option I would use to take care of his nutritional needs in his first months. Little did I know I would have difficulty breastfeeding at the start, and that I would need to feed him a few ounces of formula during his first week of life. It was literally a matter of feeding him formula or letting him go hungry, and I chose the former. I cried over it, and felt like I had failed, mainly because I felt like I should have been able to make milk for him. Luckily, that period was short lived, and Luke has now been (almost) exclusively breastfed for nearly six months. I am proud of that. I simply wish that I could have been easier on myself when we encountered some troubles.
So - back to my point - I was convinced breastfeeding was the only way to go with Luke. I felt this was the "right" way, and it is for us, but it is not the only way. I felt a bit superior to those moms who choose formula for one reason or another, and that is where mompetition comes back into the story. Who am I to judge another's choices for her child? Have I read literature that convinces me of the benefits of breastfeeding? Of course. But I have not walked in that mother's shoes, experienced her troubles, or even felt the sensations in her body as she breastfed her baby. It is not my place to judge another for the choices she makes for her child.
I am glad I have come to this realization. I do not wish to be judged for the choices I make with Luke, and I should not and will not do the same to others. I cannot pretend that mompetition does not exist, but I can do my small part to remind myself of the myriad choices available to parents when it comes to how they raise their children. While I may fall on one side of a spectrum of choices, I like having them and feel blessed to have an awareness of the choices available to me: to breastfeed or not, to cosleep or not, when to introduce solid foods, to use a binky, to let Luke cry himself to sleep if we choose, to use diapers, cloth or disposable. The list goes on and on.
I make this firm commitment to other moms out there reading this post: I will do my best to avoid judgment about how you raise your children. We may not agree or do the same things, but avoiding that initial critical thought leads to a reduction of mompetition. That can only strengthen relationships among women.