ON YOUR MARKS, get set, go! Once you announce you’re pregnant, it can feel like you’ve been thrown headfirst into a race where you’re competing with other moms-to-be. Who can put on the least weight? Who can set up the baby room to be the cutest designer pad? Who had the more “natural” birth?
For some women, this is just their first glimpse into “mom shaming” and the pressure we feel to ensure our kids are as cute, smart and stimulated as other babies whose moms are clearly acing it at parenting. It’s unexpected. Aren’t we all supposed to have each other’s backs?
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
“My baby and I had a rough start. She was a poor sleeper, and I struggled to breastfeed. I joined a baby group for support, but I was surprised when I started to dread the weekly meet-ups. Other moms would share how their baby was sleeping through the night, or they had so much milk they could donate it to a milk bank. I started to feel really uncertain about my ability as a mom. I didn’t realize how competitive other moms could be,” says Denise.*
Shrugging off her insecurities as part of her adjustment to motherhood, Denise, like many of us, found that the subtle jostling to be “mom of the century” intensified as her daughter got older.
“I know people are proud of their children. But when I saw friends on Facebook sharing that their child was already walking at 10 months, or what foods they were eating, or their elaborate first birthday cake, I couldn’t help feeling that I was losing at a game I hadn’t even wanted to take part in,” she continues.
We all have times when we feel inadequate as a parent. To balance this, we often put on the supermom facade.
“People express their feelings of inadequacy in different ways,” says Izabella Gates, author and founder of Life Talk (lifetalk.co.za), a local nonprofit that promotes proactive parenting.
“Some deal with the emotions by putting others down. But most mothers who appear to be competitive are simply trying to gauge their child against others to reassure themselves that all is well.”
For some mothers, the shift in lifestyle can push the A-type personality button.
“If you’ve been working and suddenly you find yourself at home caring for a child, your whole identity can become wrapped up in how you’re performing as a mom. A change in role can make one feel very vulnerable,” Izabella says.
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