Behind the screen: The motherhood competition

Behind the Screen

It’s one thing to be a woman, we’re so darn competitive. It’s another to be a mother, you somehow become the expert on life and no one else knows it like you do!

The reason I’m writing this is because I’ve noticed after my first kid that mom’s are the most competitive folks on the planet. It’s such a huge topic that could go on forever, but I’m going to try and stay focused I promise!

Last week I wrote about my birthing experience, but what I didn’t include in that was this whole thing that goes down between women when they talk about it.

There is always this question, “Did you have it natural or did you get an epidural?”

I’m not sure if some women want to feel that it’s OK to get pain relief so they are curious to see what route you’ve taken or if it’s because someone who’s gone the “natural” route wants to brag about it?

With my first child it was my goal to try and do it without any pain medication. My mom did that with 5 kids and so I figured it would be easy. Boy was I wrong! No matter how much you try to prepare yourself not to be too prepared, it ends up out of your control. Needless to say I got the epidural. It was instant relief, and thank God for that! But I wasn’t prepared for the competition afterward.

I met various women with kids and they’d all act like such heroes, “I was in labor for 2 weeks and never took a single pain reliever!” “I was pushing for 10 hours and didn’t take a drop of an epidural!”

And on and on it goes.

Why do we have to do this to each other? Birth is a miracle. Why do we have to try and act like if you can give birth pain free then you’re better than others?

My second birth was natural and it was amazing. But I don’t think I could have done it if it wasn’t as fast as it was. I’ve been on both sides, and they each yielded the same result. A baby.

That’s one topic that mom’s get competitive about. There are so many more… here is a list in random order:

Healthy food
Best schools
Getting into the right preschool/daycare
Organic everything

If you’re not a mom I apologize for this rant that may seem extremely random. It’s just that I feel we need to chill a little bit.

We’re all trying our hardest, and we really don’t need someone to make us feel worse. I already have doubts about whether I’m a good mother, I don’t want to hear anymore stories about how awesome someone is and how amazing their kids are, because deep down we all know it’s not true. There is no such thing as perfection.

I’d like to leave you all with a scene from an old episode of Desperate Housewives where Lynette freaks out because she is overwhelmed by her kids. When her neighbors come to comfort and talk to her, they confess that they too have times when they cry at night because they also get overwhelmed.

Lynette then says, “You made motherhood look so easy, why didn’t you ever tell me this?”

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This article has 17 comments

  1. Mariam Sobh

    Takeya.. thanks for your feedback. It’s good to hear all opinions on this. Just to clarify this post is not about putting down those who have a natural birth, it’s just an attempt to open up our eyes and see that life is short and in the end no matter what route we choose when giving birth or raising our kids, what matters is a healthy happy baby. 🙂

  2. Takeya Alamin

    Salams… well I am assuming this is most likely towards ppl like me. However I don’t consider myself better then anyone I just have strong opinions on various aspects of motherhood. Rather it be breastfeeding, natural birth opposed to epidural, midwives opposed to regular Docters. Yes! I am proud of myself for giving birth we all should be it is one of the hardest things you can do on this planet. One of the first things I said after delivering my first child was “Yes! I did it”. Just like when you find a product that you like and you tell your friends how they should switch to this product and it so amazing etc. This how I fill about natural birth and think that physically it is the best way to go. I prefer to look it on the side of an strong opinion opposed to someone that thinks she is better then others because I truly believe in the natural birthing process. I thought I should post this considering I often applaud mothers who have a natural birth. Take it or leave it.

  3. Mariam Sobh

    Wow ladies this looks like a hot topic! 🙂
    I thought I was the only one who felt like this lol.
    Regarding natural birth and breastfeeding.. I’ve started to think that maybe because we’re sometimes raised in an environment that rewards mothers for doign those things, we feel insecure when we don’t.
    Like I said before my mom had 5 kids without pain relief and I always thought that was the way things were done. She breastfed all 5 of us.. again I didn’t think there was any other way.
    With my first daughter I was SO stressed out all the time trying to do the right thing and after a few months I let go of trying to find the special containers that don’t have chemicals etc. I stopped worrying about what she ate off the floor. Now alhumdulilah (thank God) this time around I’m so much more laid back that I’m actually enjoying being a mom 🙂 Although I do have my moments of feeling overwhelmed.

  4. me

    Mothers can get nasty, esp when it comes to breast feeding. Ppl used to act like i was committing a sin because i was not breastfeeding. The first thing moms would ask me is if i was nursing. Seriously, when did my boobs become ur business? There r ppl out there that just cant produce milk. It’s not a magic faucet that just turns on. I used to lie and say i was nursing. But later I realized why should I be ashamed? Ppl need to learn not everyone can breastfeed.

  5. safia

    Sera haha i hear ya, i am thankful that i never had to make bottles and he took sippy cups right away lol

    Kelly, thank you for that, it was really well said, I find it funny that anything good the kids do is contributed to their genes “ohhh he so sweet thats how his aunt was!” and anything negative is blamed on mom “well youre doing something wrong!”

    But you’re def right, lets enjoy them as they are!

  6. sera

    safia that is terrible! aw!! to be honest, i kept breastfeeding after my first because i am too lazy to make bottles, lol!!

  7. Kelly

    Well, don’t forget the wohm/sahm debate! (There was a big debate at a brunch I was at a couple of weeks ago over this issue).

    It all boils down to this imho:

    a) we all want to feel like we’re doing a great job. especially the day after getting the “bad mommy award” for some stupid accident lol.

    b) the grass is always greener. sahm would love to get out of the home, and wohm would love to stay in. unfortunately for women there is rarely a perfect balance.

    c) all we can do is our best. do your best for you, for your kids, and your family. it’s easy to sit and judge, but it’s not easy to be in someone else’s shoes.

    one of the websites I own is a parenting forum, and I’ve seen it all. if these women were in the same room, it would have become a knock down, drag out brawl. thankfully they’re seperated by states usually, ha, but over the years we’ve all become close friends. I think because over the years we realized it really doesn’t matter as long as we have common goals (to raise good kids!).

    I think I knew everything about parenting before I had kids. I thought the toddler years were so hard (and they are!) but I have to say in my experience it doesn’t neccesarily get easier. You just trade one set of issues for new ones.

    Anyhow, enjoy them while they’re little, don’t take one second for granted. The time flies by faster than you can imagine. It doesn’t seem that long ago that my 9 year old was a baby. And I’ll blink again and she’ll be off to college. Life is too short!

  8. safia

    Breastfeeding was a big issue for me. I didn’t want to do it at all, he latched on from day 1, it wasnt painful, i had enough milk, alhamdullilh, but i did not want it, but everyone made me feel like i was so selfish, lazy, and ungrateful if i would stop, so I did it for a year! not because i wanted to, but because of the pressure…

    The prophet SAW wasnt nursed by his own mother, it was never a requirement, and it was always an option for women, so we seriously need to stop pressuring each other

  9. Krystal

    I agree Mariam. I just posted an article about a backlash on overparenting. We all get caught up in our own insecurities, so we feel better about ourselves if we did something better, more natural, more organic, etc. than the next mother. In reality, we all make mistakes. But we are the best mother for our children and when we take the pressure off of ourselves and just learn to go with the flow and enjoy our children, we will be a lot less stressed and less competitive with one another.

  10. sera

    and salma, wow i was never told my baby would be put ar tisk, i had two epi’s. i was always told I would be at risk because there was this small chance of gettin paralyzed with the needle if it were to hit the wrong nerve. my first natural way was a complete accident. my second they gave me something in my i/v said i would sleep and wake up with a baby and me i take things literally, so i’m having this pain while being completely drowsy just wanna go into a coma type sleep and to be honest i would rather not have that. i thought it was going to be relieveing and with ruqayah i wanted to get there to get some of that because again, the pain is hard but i am glad i didnt because i dont remember alot when it comes to amins birth, and its because of that stuff. the pain is hard and i understand the shameful feeling, but if you cant take it you just cant take it but after doing it for me i was just proud of myself. its something i want for other women to expierence at least once because there just isnt anything like it. its just one of those things that is like wow, i cant believe i did that. i feel bad though, i am bad with pain and i threw the nurses arm off me with this last pregnancy, lol.

  11. sera

    ok this may be a silly question… what is co-sleeping?
    i dont like to brag myself.. because i dont like it when other people do and i am not better for doing one thing and the other isnt worse for not doing it, you know. i will say why i do or dont, you know what i mean. like i just cant imagine not breast feeding my kids, i didnt want to at first and it hurt so bad that i wanted to quit with my first, but hubby rooted me on and i thought maybe i would get rewarded for it so i kept on. i am just happy i do it and express happiness to other women that do especially young and non muslim women but i dont put down others for not doing it but i do ask how they made their choice.

    i cant afford organic food either, lol. i dont just do it for the health benefits, but also as a protest against injustice and the big business that is tearing peoples lives apart. millionairres that make their job not to lose ONE DOLLAR will cut a farmers throat to get it. the health benefits are great and i do express to people they should think about it, but again i dont, at least i dont think i do, put people down. i mean if anything thats just going to drive people away from something i think is positive. and i’ve never ‘been in the loop’, lol. its hard to compare notes and see where others are coming from if we have a bad adab about it.

  12. salma

    i love hearing delivery stories though and the talk about epidural is just fascinating to me. when I hear about some one that went thru labor the natural way it’s just amazing to me because I had 2 kids and neither was the “natural” way. The pain in unbearable that I felt like climbing the walls How does someone go thru that and bear it? I dunno. But like you said, it’s probably because because the labor was short? when I’m sitting with older women like my mother in law I feel a little bit of shame that I had the epidural like I’m not a strong woman? there’s a little bit of shame about it for some reason esp when the doctors say that I put my baby at risk

  13. Zeynub

    Fascinating. Awesome job Mariam.

  14. Mariam Sobh

    I’m not a psychologist lol but sometimes I feel like it makes some women feel like they have a one up on you. Maybe something else is missing in their lives and this is the way they can feel important? Or maybe it’s because society in general acts like the amazing super mom (who doesn’t really exist) is the ultimate goal. It’s kind of like a status symbol in a way.

    I just decided that I don’t get into conversations with women who start blabbing about how they are into this program or that or how they can only eat organic because a study says such and such and you’d better read that article they’re quoting or you’re totally out of the loop. FYI I do read all those articles lol but sometimes I just don’t have the time/energy/money to be caught up in all that. 🙂

    Now that I’m on child #2 I’m over it all.. with my first I was SUPER paranoid about doing everything perfectly and now I realize I stressed myself and aged myself too much. It’s nice to relax and just go with the flow now hehe.

  15. Donna

    I know exactly what you are talking about Mariam, I rather be a normal mom than going through all this.pregnency,birth and raising a child vary from child to child and from mom to mom. I really don’t understand why some mom’s do that.

  16. Sana

    This so true.I think its the jealousy that we girls have:)

  17. safia

    Okay wow, this is my fave topic hahah. I was in shock when I became a mom, it’s hard to talk about it, it’s even harder to not become that mom that competes.

    I would love for us to start supporting each other. I love my husband, but there are things that he won’t understand, and can’t help me with. We’ve become so competitive and bitter creatures lol I’m sick of it! hahah

    My friends I can shut them up, it’s the old family members that get to me. I even told my mom, if you have the choice of relief, you are suppose to take it islamically! So I feel no shame in taking the epidural haha.

    There are many ways of raising children right, you just have to do what works for you and your husband, and all us moms need to just respect that!

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