That awful facebook status from that mum with the 2 week old baby, you know the one. The one where she reckons that having a child is no excuse for not cleaning your house. That one. That got me thinking. It set me off on a whole gambit of different emotions and it made me really think about this awful habit. The terrible pass-time that is the “Momparison”
We all do it. We know it wont help. It starts when you’re pregnant and someone from your pre-natal group tells you that they haven’t even sniffed a camembert since they found out they were expecting. Their mouth puckers up when you mention that you had half a glass of champagne on New Years Eve at 13 weeks. As well as deciding that they are probably not “your kind of person”, you also start to feel like a bit of a failure. You start suspecting that they’re a bit better at this being pregnant lark, than you. The guilt and self doubt sets in.
Nothing changes after you haemorrhage out an actual human. You struggle with breastfeeding. Your Earth Mother mate is cooking the dinner whist feeding the baby which is hanging off her left breast, supported in some kind of fabric cocoon. Her baby latches on fine. It’s the most natural thing in the world don’t you know. You make the “Momparison” and conclude that you must be doing something wrong. You feel shit. For months.
Everyone else’s baby is sleeping. Yours still thinks its perfectly acceptable to wake on an hourly basis. You can’t help but “mompare” and its obvious you’re fucking it up. Your toddler can’t be arsed to speak, everyone else’s appears to already know the first act of Hamlet by heart. Your baby walks first, it destroys something everywhere you go. They are out of your control. Other mothers seem to be able to go places without arranging accidental damage insurance first. The momparison is glaringly obvious, and you aren’t coming off well.
Skip forward a few years and you find yourself making less favourable “momparisons” with other people’s parenting. You internally judge someone who isn’t watching their child at soft play, when their child punches yours in the head. You sort of forget that you weren’t watching either. You “mompare” and this time the other mother comes off worse (in your head anyway)
Most of us don’t write a horrendous judgemental facebook status deriding the vast majority of mothers out there. But we might sometimes have less than positive thoughts about other peoples parenting. And we regularly have negative thoughts about our own ability to ensure our offspring grow up into marvellous well adjusted adults. We beat ourselves up because we allowed a toddler to have a dinner of fridge-raider chicken bites and dairylea triangles. We get in a massive mood with ourselves because we let them watch the Peppa Pig DVD all the way through. Twice in a row. We write ourselves off as a parenting no-hoper because we cant be arsed to go to the playground today. When I say we, I mean me. I’m just hoping you’re doing this too, so I don’t feel like such a dickhead.
So I urge us all, lets stop Momparing. Social services aren’t breaking your door down, so you’re probably doing alright. It’s ok to do things differently to other people. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. And if your child doesn’t react in the same way as someone else’s, its because they are a different little person with different thoughts and ideas. I’m going to try to measure my parenting performance in smiles and laughter. And I’ll try to remember that to my children, I’m probably the only Mum that really matters. Even if I have got peanut butter on my curtains.