Her Bad Mother

Sunday, September 3, 2006

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Mommy

So, here’s a little secret about me:

I’m a CompetiMommy.

That’s right. You heard me. CompetiMommy.

Before you recoil in horror, let me explain myself. I’m not a CompetiMommy of the my-child-is-better-than-yours variety. I don’t view myself as a competitor in the Tour de Mommy or the Momolympics or anything of the sort. I’m not comparing my child to yours. I’m not competing against you.

I’m competing against me.

This probably sounds like a lot of bullshit hair-splitting: if I view myself as competitive in the arena of motherhood, I must be competing against other moms, no? Well… no. I’m not interested in comparing strollers or diaper bags or how many months we breastfed our respective children. I don’t care how our children compare on growth charts or development charts or any chart that can be found through BabyCenter. I don’t care if your child walks or talks or masters algebra before mine. I really don’t.

What I do care about: whether I measure up to my own benchmarks of success as a mother. Whether I can compete with the ideal mother that I always imagined that I would be: the devoted, imaginative, stimulating, hand-pureeing-organic-veggies-for-dinner-while-wearing-sample-sale-Jimmy-Choos-and-reciting-Suess-in-Latin-before-putting-baby-to-bed-and-dashing-out-for-martinis-with-hubby kind of mother. The kind of mother who balances being a wonderful mother with being a good spouse and an interesting woman in her own right. The kind of mother who takes advantage of every opportunity to enrich the lives of her children and her life with her partner and - and, and - the life that is her own. I care about whether I can hold my own against that kind of do-it-all-have-it-all mother.

The kind of mother who only exists in my imagination.

Because, yes, I do recognize that this is a fictive mother, a mother who does not exist. A mother who, even if she did exist, wouldn’t necessarily be the best kind of mother. But she is still the mother that informed my maternal ambitions (once I realized that I had such ambitions) and the mother that now looms in the background of my evaluations of myself as a mother.

And, oh, how she looms.

Against this accomplished, attentive, well-groomed mother, I reveal myself, to myself, to be sorely lacking. I can barely keep our house clean. There are Fisher-Price toys littered across our living room floor. I do not take WonderBaby to lessons of any kind; I have not taught her to swim or Salsa-Baby or sign. The organic food that she eats usually comes from a jar. The last time I wore heels was at BlogHer and a) they were closed-toe to hide my desperately pedicure-deficient feet, and b) had to be ditched after an hour because my post-partum body has lost the ability to hold itself upright in anything other than Converse sneakers.

(I do recite Suess in Latin, but only to myself, late at night, to overcome insomnia. Cattus Petasatus. A classic.)

I know that I am a good mother. I know that loving WonderBaby and playing with WonderBaby and exulting in life with Wonderbaby is being the best kind of mother that I can be. I know that motherhood is not about the laundry and the shoes and the appearance of things. And I know that I do not want to be one of those mothers who overfunctions and overanalyzes and turns herself and her children into a perfect little robo-family.

But still… I thought that I’d be better at this. I thought that I could be a good mother AND a good partner AND keep a tidy house AND look good AND make time for other interests AND not get overwhelmed. I thought that I would finish each day with a long bath and a cuddle with my husband and a martini and that I would bask in the glow of my maternal accomplishment.

I thought that I would get more laundry done.

I thought that I would be able to do it all. But I can’t. And sometimes I find that fact overwhelming. There’s not enough time, there are not enough hours in the day, there are not enough eyes and arms and hands to stay on top of all of the things that I want to stay on top of.

And so I get frustrated, running this race against myself. Frustrated when I have to stop in the middle of this road, alone, to catch my breath. Frustrated at the cramps in my legs, at the aching in my chest, at my body's inability to go as fast and as gracefully as I thought I could go. Frustrated that I can't let go of this silly mom-o-meter that I measure myself with.

Frustrated that I can't let go and just run freely. Just enjoy the wind in my hair as I go forward as a mother.

Frustrated that I'm finding it hard to just be.

Trying to be the best that I can be. For her.

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Devra and Aviva over at Parentopia will be addressing this post over at their place sometime in the near future - they'll go through it and give me feedback on how I might CHILL THE EFF OUT and stop treating motherhood like a race against myself that I'm going to win or lose. I'll post a link once they've done this. In the meantime, you can go check out what they did with Christina's post about learning to let some things go.


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Oh, and in the category of I've Got Far Too Many Things To Do But This Was Just Too Good To Pass Up? You can now find me over at urbanmoms.ca, promoting the Canadian mommy-blogger community... Click here, or check the link on my sidebar.)

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One laaaaast thing... why not poke your head down in the Basement? We've had a good run of visitors down there, and they'd all love to hear from you...

65 Comments:

Blogger Andrea said...

I think your definition of CompetiMommy is one a lot of moms can relate to, myself included. If I didn't have such an awesome spouse to take some of the household chores (read: all of them except bills and laundry) while I'm galivanting after the child, our house would be a disaster.

I'm interested to see the others' take on your post. And hey, recognizing you may need to cut yourself some slack is part of the battle. I think you're awesome.

10:20 PM  
Blogger ECR said...

I never thought I'd be particularly wonderful at this whole wife-and-mother thing--I told myself from the beginning that I'd settle for good enough--but somehow I still manage to disappoint myself, day after day after day.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Me too! I've been a SAHM for seven years, and I still don't think I'm very good at it. I envisioned a schedule that would get every room of the house cleaned every week, a meal plan that would provide complete nutrition for every member of the family, and time to exercise every day.

I fail to live up to my expectations.

10:37 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

If WonderBaby's any indication, you're doing a great job.

Now, go pour yourself that martini, put on some good music and stop worrying!

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Mother said...

I think we all get this way - but without a full time nanny we're doomed. Plus, I care too much about my own sanity now (thank god for that) to give it all up so my kid can recite her ABC's.

It's amazing how great Sesame Street can be. So long as I make it through the day with us in tact, alive, and kicking - I think we're doing pretty well.

Plus, there's always tomorrow.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Mother said...

I think we all get this way - but without a full time nanny we're doomed. Plus, I care too much about my own sanity now (thank god for that) to give it all up so my kid can recite her ABC's.

It's amazing how great Sesame Street can be. So long as I make it through the day with us in tact, alive, and kicking - I think we're doing pretty well.

Plus, there's always tomorrow.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I used to think I should be able to do all those things too.
The older mine gets the easier I find it. I also have to admit that I gave up on a lot of it though. You are doing A LOT. Give yourself a break.

And you look damn good!

11:09 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

ME TOO!!!! That is what I thought TOO!! *sigh* Not.So.Much.

Wonder baby is one cute freakin' baby.(I say that as a mom of superfreaky beautiful midgets, too.) She is a doll! ...Hey! Maybe all the "perfection" was used up in the babyMAKING and not so much was left for the babyRAISING!? That must be it. Now I feel better, don't you?

:)

11:14 PM  
Blogger tania (urban_mommy) said...

I fit your definition of a competimommy too. I don't believe we can give up or change our competitive spirit. (And personally, I wouldn't want to.) This is one more problem that needs to be solved, but you are an excellent problem solver. I have every confidence that you will work it out.

I've found that prioritizing always helps. And saying no. Together they are a magical mix. The stuff that is low priority (for whatever reason), well, that is the stuff you say no to. Your to-do list will get a lot shorter in a hurry. Promise.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

I've found that when I do let myself "let go and just run freely" is when I am most the Mom/Me who I want to be. But that's easier said than done, and it's taken me years (and a second baby) to really relax about a lot of the mommmy-perfection stuff.

11:37 PM  
Anonymous lyn said...

the competimommy is like an angel of the house on crack, i'm not kidding. i am women's studies educated enough to know (in my pre-mommy life) that the angel of the house was a bitch that i had to exorcise for me to be a sane, creative, productive woman, friend, wife, etc. what i didn't know is how much worse the competimommy would ever be...she's so much harder to kill off because the most important work i've ever done might actually depend on her...i know in my head she's stupid and means nothing to me or my life or my child's well-being. but damn if my psychotic self (because it's not my heart telling me this, let me tell you!) doesn't work its mojo on me all the time about how important competimommy is. i fight her every day, that horrible fiend, but i figure if i can keep it in check enough that babygirl never has to know about her for her own possible-future-mommy-self, then i won the war! here's to the good fight--keep your head up and your heel on competimommy's throat!!

11:57 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

I'm such a competimommy. And, I thought I was the queen of making-up-words!!! ;) Cheaty little monkey, you! ;)

12:01 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

Perfect is the last word I'd apply to myself and I stopped worrying about it years ago.

I can't do it all and I know it.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous something blue said...

Somehow having a second child has made me relax from putting high demands on my maternal skills. That still doesn't lessen the fact that when I analyze myself, I view myself as failing. Madly.

There are more than a few fisher price toys littering my living room. Dinner has two or three of the necessary food groups. My list of to do's continuously grows but my children thrive and so that makes me happy.

3:43 AM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

Great post. I think we all compete against ourselves in one way or another. A friend calls it the 'UberMommy In My Head.'

If it's any consolation, that pushy broad quiets down as your kids get older. Either that, or I just got better at making excuses for the Cheetos packed in my kids' lunches.

3:44 AM  
Blogger chichimama said...

The laundry. The laundry. The laundry is the bane of my existance. Four years into the game I've figured out the food and half-gotten the cleaning/picking up thing down (it gets easier as the baby gets older and can "help," but I have never gotten a handle on the laundry.

You are doing a great job.

7:17 AM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

Your words really resonate with me. I can relate to the competing against myself mentality and it is something I still work on. Every. Single. Day.

You are not just a good mother. You are a great mother as evidenced by the Wonder of Wonderbaby.

And that “perfect” fictive mom you described? If she did exist you probably wouldn’t like her anyway.

Keep on keeping on my friend. There are so many mothers who are right beside you in the struggle to just be.

And congrats on the new blog/column! You are the true community builder!

8:12 AM  
Blogger Waya said...

You are not alone, let me tell you friend. After 3 kids, I've given up on being "the best I can on everything Mommy" and settle for the "the best Mom that I can be to my children". And it's very refreshing and less stressful.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Mamalooper said...

Another mommy here who is competing against herself. Feeling competitive with other moms or judging them is not part of the equation at all. I think being an older new mom helps with that. Been around the block one too many times to worry about what everyone else is doing. But competing against my own "image" of what kind of mom I should be, nail, head, bang.

For me a large part of it is not having many or any positive rolemodels of mothering today. I know the "unhappy, unfulfilled, giving up all of myself" model - hey, that's MY mom! Pass the martinis and valium...oh the coping methods of the 60's and 70's.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Merry Mama said...

To use my favorite word of the day, you "encapsulate" the mood, the brain-squeezing frustration that has come to mark me as a mother- grieving but true!!

Please, please, please, learn now, before it is too late, before you accidentally start yelling (because once you do, it's hard to stop) at your future"kids." It's easier to control the outbursts when they are just babies, but as they grow, and become people we tend to let go of what we shouldn't in order to keep up with our ideals-- the guilt is far worse than the guilt of no pedicure (which, check, me too) no clean floor (check, check) prepared food (check,check.)

Can you believe I (mother of six) actually had to have a counsellor tell me to use paper plates? Yes, I did. I wanted to save the earth and was going crazy in the process (also? homemade bread, cloth diapers and all things organic.)

It is not worth it. What is worth it is the post you wrote that inspired me to write a soul searching post on my oldest child. I didn't blog way back then, and forgot to write things down. If you get a chance, go read it.

PLease give yourself a break. You are wonderful!

9:35 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Honey, you are as close to this as one can be and still be sane (at least, without an army of staff).

One part of me wants to say HA HA HA HA HA about thinking you could manage it all, while the other part nods emphatically, because I've pretty much let go by now. I struggled, god I did, but now my house is an unapologteic dive, and I just have a good go at it every few weeks instead, I wear jeans to work now (albeit dark wash), my nice wool slacks and silky skirts haven't seen the light of day for ages, and I can't remember the last time I had actual sex. I still frustrates me sometimes, but mostly I'm too tired or too elated when I get a minute to myself.

9:48 AM  
Blogger cmhl said...

wow. excellent post.

I feel like I am my own worst competition, and I will never win.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Funny how we strive for greatness and stress over every detail andd at the end of the day we stress over how we failed. And then we get up the next day and do it all over again. What's the definition of insanity again? Oh, yeah. Motherhood.

Great post, HBM!

10:24 AM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Interesting. I will have to think on this one some more from my own perspective.

But while I understand your frustration at not measuring up to your self-imposed standards, I think that you are doing wonderfully, as the others have already said.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Jill Urbane, The Mentor Mom said...

As someone who works with parents daily, what came across to me is how serious you take your role as a mom. I don't think that is a bad thing. Your confidence as a parent will continue to grow as your child grows and the time spent worrying about how to do everything will gradually decrease. It does get easier. You will also learn how to balance what is important (time playing with your baby) and what is not (laundry). As an interventionist, I work with so many kids with serious medical conditions. Their parents have figured out what is important early on out of necessity...they don't know how long they have with their precious angels. They serve as an inspiration to me to live in the moment as well. Great post!

PS: Thanks for swinging by my site:)

2:46 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I have often wondered, Catherine, if some of our internal drive to be All things as Wife, mother, educated witty, sexy, erudite women of the world is , in part, an unintended consequence of main stream feminism.

Having bought that we Could do it all, and being faced with trying to do it all? With the same level of competance we have demanded of ourselves in all other facets of career and profession? It simply can not be done.

But, at the risk of seeming incompetant, we drive ourselves harder and longer and faster.

It is only when others like us take us by the hand and whisper "It is unachievable", can we relax. Like a Zen riddle we can never undo, until we realize the point is the impossibility

2:52 PM  
Blogger lara said...

wait, wait, wait - that was what i had planned to be/do when i became a mother. are you telling me it's not possible? i can't be perfect? i can't do absolutely everything all on my own and make everything absolutely flawless all the time?

shoot...

4:40 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

I knew this about you Catherine, from your other posts,especially the one about fear. In fact, that post, and some others like it, inspired me to write a post of my own about fear--but then I got busy and we are moving and I should be packing RIGHT NOW and so I haven't finished it.

Anyway, it's good that you recognize this (Half The Battle, right?)but now you just have to figure out how to give yourself a break. Wonderbaby is going to be fine, even if you are only a (gasp) "good enough" mother. A little good enough would probably be great for her, not to mention do wonders for you and your husband.
(Ha! I just love this, ME giving marital advice!)
What everyone else says here is true, so try to listen to it: you are doing a fabulous job.

4:45 PM  
Blogger mama kay said...

Wow. Your post couldn't have been timelier for me. I find myself in that same place. Except that I have four children and I thought that I would have it down by now. I have only been a SAHM for 1.5 yrs .. but I really thought that I would get the hang of things .. surely in a year - come on, if I didn't have the hang of a job w/in a year, I would have been fired. I find it hard not to relate being a mother/wife/friend, etc. to being a professional (on the job) .. like you, I know that I have unrealistic expectations of myself, but I just don't know how to break free of them.

6:08 PM  
Blogger myredwagon said...

wow, just hearing well actually reading that someone feels like I do is a relief. I am very competitive and I know I have to keep it in check. I don't compete with other moms, but rather with the mythic perfect mom in my head. Oh that and someone like Gwyneth Paltrow - like if she can do it so can I...crazy I know. Thanks for sharing.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

I find it overwhelming that I can't do it all sometimes too. I mean -- two kids, a four level backsplit and a husband to take care of -- sounds like a lot, right? It is, but there are times when I look around here and think "Why can't it be cleaner?" And then this voice in my head goes, BECAUSE YOU'RE ONLY ONE WOMAN.

And I think, "Oh, okay." And check out another blog. ;)

7:58 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Salsa-Baby! What's Salsa-Baby? I'm supposed to teach her how to walk AND how to shimmy?

I wouldn't worry too much about your supermommy alterego. We're all much more patient, engaging and thin in our head than in real life.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I know how you feel. Sometimes I just need to bitch-slap my inner Donna Reed to shut her up.

Because honestly, we can't do it all. It's simply not possible, and something has to drop from time to time. I believe that we have to continue to nurture our relationships, to children, family, spouses, friends, and so that means sometimes non-people stuff needs to be dropped. Which means laundry, cooking, special baby classes, etc. sometimes must be left behind.

When Wonderbaby is older, she won't praise you for taking her to Salsa Baby classes - she'll praise you for being there for her, even if it's just at home watching Sesame Street together.

(Yeah, I'm still working on this whole "letting things go" lesson myself.)

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Binkytown said...

I think one of the reasons everyone relates with what you are saying here is because we all experience it on some level. How could you possibly know what motherhood is really like until you've had a baby run your life? Of course you imagined having it all and doing it all. You didn't know! You couldn't know.

9:41 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

We are the hardest on ourselves.

The beauty of children is that they are so accepting of whatever it is they are given...as long as they get kissed and hugged and loved all up.....

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

I used to be more like how you describe yourself. Where my daughter was concerned, I was damn near a supermom (excluding those little mood swing things that made me yell sometimes) but something made me change and fast...

Having baby #2.

Nothing like having two kids to make you stop and take stock in how much you value down time, which is in short supply these days.

Being a fricken workaholic and a blogaholic doesn't help either but seriously, having P was like a slap of reality. Now I just do the best I can and forgive myself for the days when my best isn't up to my old standards. And my kids are not any less happy, well-adjusted or smart or talented or anything. The world keeps spinning regardless.

I don't have any actual advice. I just wanted to tell you admire you as you are and I'm sure WB and the huz think you hang the moon no matter what :)

10:21 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

After I had my second child, oh, when he was about 5 months old I finally realized: All I can do is the best I can, and that's fine. As long as they're clothed, fed, happy...the rest is just extra.

When we're old and gray, we won't look back and say "darn, my floors weren't as clean as I wanted them to be." We'll look back at the times we spent with our kids, helping them grow into adults. And the love...

10:23 PM  
Blogger Angel Baby said...

I don't even do HALF of the shit I had planned to do as ubermom. I'm always disappointed in myself, it sucks.

I thought I would be revelling in how good I am at being a mom, I thought I'd be super high functioning, like prebaby, and always able to go from quiet time with baby to 500 miles an hour-let's-get-it-done mode multiple times a day. But I don't do anything. I'm more boring than I had thought possible. I'm incredibly unmotivated. I can't seem to get my ass in gear to wake up my own life.

I'm with you on this one, all the way.

10:42 PM  
Blogger EmmaSometimes said...

The kind of mother who only exists in my imagination.

Oh, mine too...hehe. (pass the martini!)

1:06 AM  
Blogger tracey said...

Yep. I'm right there with you, running my friggin' ass off and not getting anywhere but exhausted. Damn. I just might be writing about this at my place because I've got some stuff to share...
But, not right now because...I'm reeeeally tired.

1:38 AM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

You ARE a good mother. You strive to do the best you can for Wonderbaby. You love her. You show her affection. You nurture her. Those are the traits of a good mother. YOU are a good mother.

(that being said, it WOULD be nice to have a martini and a pedicure now and then)

1:47 AM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

GET OFF my DOORSTEP. I have a draft in right now called 'not enough hours in the day'. Since having my second I feel like Mike Harris over here.. it is all cutbacks and restructuring. YUCK.

With #1 I said the perfectionist in my had to die a slow and painful death. Now the complusive is being summarily sent to firing squad for a quick end.

2:25 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Is SalsaBaby where they learn to dance or learn to cook TexMex food? I hope the latter, so I can send Q to get some nutrition basics. Then he can make healthy dinners for us all!

As you can tell, we're a little hectic around here too. You're a great mom, writer, and taking on lots - can't believe you have another site going. I love your post at the Mother 'Hood.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

What you're saying here is exactly how I feel all the time. How can I be everything to my child as a mom and yet be everything I want to be as a woman as a wife, and also as an employee.
I remember when Matt was really little (like a few weeks) and I felt I had accomplished a lot by managing to put clothes on in the morning, and then my friend with a child of the exact same age called me and mentioned she had just put shepherd's pie in the oven.
I cried when she said that. Cause I didn't measure up.
But, I try to remember that at the end of the day what my son remembers is the cuddles, the hugs and the good stuff.
And, screw trying to be everything.
Besides, I always sit in awe of you and your writing. In case you haven't realized it yet - your writing is keeping zillions of moms sane :)

8:35 AM  
Blogger Mommygoth said...

This really hit me between the eyes. My colleagues joked while I was pregnant that I was managing the pregnancy like I manage my projects at work - with folders, deadlines, and hard and fast rules. I felt very successful as a pregnant woman. No vomiting, no excess weight gain, continued to exercise, craved healthy foods, etc. Once the baby was out in the world, though, it all went to hell. I couldn't get to the bathroom when I needed to pee, much less get everything done.

It's better now that she's almost 2, but I have had to do a lot of internal adjusting to come to peace with the fact that my house will never be as clean as it used to be, I'll never exercise as much as I should, and I've turned into the woman who picks the nutrigrain bar off the floor at Target and gives it BACK to the baby rather than listen to the screaming.

Motherhood changes the rules. It's just that nobody publishes the new manual for us - they expect us to figure it out on our own.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

You and I are a lot alike. I am extremely hard on myself, holding myself to standards that I don't expect others to meet.

I fear I will be this way in motherhood too. But I do think that acknowleding it and being cognizant of the behavior and when you're doing it will help a lot.

Give yourself a break once in a while. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend who was having the same problem. I know it's difficult to do, but you'll be amazed at how good it feels.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

Deep sigh. I know, I know.

I am doing a good job. My house is clean. Really clean. “Stop by any time” clean. My kids eat home-cooked meals with proper proportions of protein, veggies, grains and fruits. We play with them and read to them every day. My husband and I have conversations every day. Sometimes about diapers and wipes, but also about politics and religion and aspirations. We find time for sex once or twice a week, AND it’s still good. My laundry is done and put away. I work full time and get great kudos on my work.
All this, and yet I spent a good portion of the long weekend seeing what is NOT done – the windows need to be washed, the garden needs to be weeded and turned over for fall, the pantry needs to be organized, the basement is a landfill, the closets need end-of-summer purging, the “to-be-read” pile of books is growing ever higher, I can’t remember the last time I wore something other than Birkenstocks, and husband and I need a romantic date. I cant see past my own lengthy, ridiculous to-do list.

11:01 AM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

Don't know if I'll be saying anything that the 45 people before me haven't already said, but I've always liked the sound of my own typing, so here goes...

I would never be accused of being an A-type, but I am a bit of a control freak, and I do understand how the yearning to do the best that you can for your child/family/self can feel overwhelming and discouraging.

How to not let the strive to be the best get in the way of being satified is a tricky one. I certainly don't know the answer, but an article that was published in Mothering mag a few months ago (the only parenting mag worth the paper its printed on imho), shed some light on this very issue with a piece called 'The Good Enough Parent.' It was comforting, good advice and I recommend it highly.

p.s. I have no doubt that your child is about as amazing as they come. You must be doing something right.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

total competi-mommy over here. :)

11:26 AM  
Blogger tallulah said...

OH! You said it so eloquently. You have summed up how I feel in one beautiful blog.

11:27 AM  
Blogger creative-Type Dad (Tony) said...

How funny - CompetiMommy.

Yeah, we know some. Except these one do think they know everything

12:44 PM  
Blogger virtualsprite said...

Yes... yes.... YES!!!!!

Brilliant post. Can totally relate.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

You're right. Reading your post, I realize I have an inner image of what kind of mom I should be like. Wow, your post stimulated some of my brain cells today. Not easy to do waiting for this baby to come out.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Val said...

You should create a club of competimummies... I would join as soon... Great post !

4:52 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

what? you can't do everything?? what kind of mother are you?!?

bwahahaha!

you of course must KNOW that i am right there with you with this: able to consciously know (and mock) how ridiculous that competimommy voice in our heads is, yet unable to wholly get past it despite this awareness.

i haven't washed my wood floors in weeks. this fact fills me with shame.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Bobita said...

Ah, the Motherhood Mystique!

You might appreciate one of my all-time favorite quotes:

"People can say what they like about the eternal verities, love and truth and so on, but nothing's as eternal as the dishes."
-Margaret Mahy

And the laundry...and the unattainable standards that we hold ourselves to. I echo your sentiments and stand beside you...joined in the same struggles. Solidarity, sister!

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Wow. You said it so perfectly.

I find myself competing against the ghost of my mother (who isn't dead oddly enough). I never win.

8:37 AM  
Blogger J said...

You've gotten so many comments saying they all feel the same way, great writing, etc., that I feel somewhat competitive, and I want to say something better...but really, erm...great job. Loved this post, because it spoke to how I often feel like I'm a jack of all trades in my own life, not a good enough mom, not a good enough wife, not a good enough employee, on and on and on. But letting go of some of my ideas of what is good enough, that's a first step. :)

1:44 PM  
Blogger Queso said...

Great post.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Right. Exactly. Bingo.

We women drive ourselves nuts trying to achieve our own unrealistic images of perfection - whatever they may be. Our fantasies clash with our realities, and we feel angst/failure/frustration. But...it eases as the kids grow, because we grow too.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

Maybe we can form a club of some sort? I see membership shirts proclaiming:
"I'm an overachiever and all I got was this lousy tee shirt"

I usually feel like I'm doing pretty well on the mothering end of things, but the house and the husband get short changed and the me usually gets 3 hours a week at the gym and the occasional time with a novel.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Brony said...

I think it's time to stop running and start living. All mothers, or almost all mothers, feel frustrated, disappointed and overwhelmed just as you do. If we spend time thinking about the could have, would have, wish I...then we lose sight of the I did, I am, I have...

Perfection is what we make it. Loving your child and giving her the best is perfection. The fact that you care enough to enough to question you abilities tells me that you've achieved it. Well done.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Tina C. said...

Here's what I do. I always chose baby time over laundry or cleaning (also I have made sure I have enough pairs of under-wear so I don't need to do laundry for at least one month). I have long ago accepted that i make mistakes everyday, sometimes twice or 3 x per day. and i tell myself that perfect doesn't exist in humans. no way i'm going to be perfect. this helps me not get too anxious about my shortcomings as a mom. i also tell myself that even bad moms are loved by their babies - i think babies are hard-wired to love their mommies no matter what. you might feel less competi-mommy when you start back to work and get some perspective on baby-raising skills and time spent with baby -- i did when i went back to work.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

fantastic essay, hbm! Just catching up on last week's posts and am glad to have hit this one right away - it's a little...well, familiar. Except for the heels part which I don't care about. Jimmy Choo does make flats you know...

11:49 PM  
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6:25 PM  

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