why motherhood is not a competition

Do you feel it?

This crazy measuring up pressure on mothers? On you? Right now in the midst of motherhood? In the midst of a life of mothering and caring for children? This unwritten rule of what perfect motherhood should look like? Be like?

And does it make you tired like it makes me?


When I  am blessed to speak face to face with moms (like I was blessed to do in Florida where I spoke this weekend) almost every time during our conversation we end up talking about the ridiculous pressure, this unwritten competition, that could/can/may/does exist between mothers. Eyes would well with tears as we’d talk about motherhood and this feeling of being out-of-breath and trying to do our best and yet feeling overwhelmed and alone in this journey where support and friendship is most needed.

There is not one perfect motherhood choice out there.

There is not a manual on how to have the perfect motherhood life and children and house. Yet, there is often this crazy unspoken about competitive world of motherhood out there where we as mothers could feel like the measuring bar of what one needs to do is so high and unattainable and we’ll never reach the top.

Do you know what I believe you and I need to remember?

This.

[Tweet “Moms don’t need to one-up each other. Moms need to embrace each other.”]

When we compete we lose seeing the heart of the person sitting in the room with us.

We need to learn to love each other in the midst of lives that may look different than our own. To extend a hand to another and to accept help from another. To be real with where they are and to work together to get better. To not judge one’s present based on the present of another. To know that our kids aren’t our measuring stick of motherhood success. To know that there are many many many different choices that we make and that the choices don’t define the perfect mother.

We could get stuck thinking that there is only one way to do motherhood. Then we’re back into comparing – working versus not working versus staying at home versus part time. Comparing medical choices – vaccines versus no vaccines or breast feeding versus bottle feeding. Education choices, sports choices, extracurricular choices, parenting choices,  housing choices, and on and on and on.

And then? Then beyond the big life choices there are the pressures. The pins, the trips, the crafts, the projects, the not caring about doing those things, the cars, the houses, the decorating, the extra-curricular activities, this and that and a world full of millions of things to do that can clutter our brains so that we miss seeing the important.

Those things don’t define mothers.

They don’t define you.

You.

You might have to work and don’t want to work  and realize that it’s the best choice for you and your family  but you get yourself out of bed every single morning and you love on your kids and you work. You are a good mom. 

You might want to work and love working and realize that it’s the best choice for you and your family and you get out of bed every single morning and you love on your kids and you work. You are a good mom.

You might stay home with your kids and you realize it’s the best choice for you and your family and your get out of bed every single morning and you love on your kids and you stay at home and work. You are a good mom.

Listen to me. You and I could list every single choice that we’re presented with as moms – all of those things that often get debated and cause such animosity between people and at the end of the day and the end of the list you and I would still need to put at the end – you are a good mom.

Motherhood and motherhood success and beauty and the root of motherhood cannot ever be determined by those externals. We are all different. With different paths – which includes bumps in the road that push us in directions that we never ever imagined that we must work through. And yet, sweet mother, we are all women who are in the midst of the motherhood journey. It’s can be easy to look at externals and forget the heart of the person, the mother, standing in the room with you.

What if the excess of information, the options to have more and do more, and the comfortableness of life was removed? What if instead of dealing with soccer camps, decorating living rooms, and which grocery store we were going to shop at we just had to all survive? You know as well as I do that the competitive measuring up parameters would be simply erased. We wouldn’t care how perfect our schedule and planner looked – we’d focus on living. We’d see how valuable and important the simple giving of self motherhood things truly are in life.

I think that’s the thing, the truth, that we need to remember in motherhood.

Let’s look at what matters.

It’s the giving of self in the midst of a period of life where you are pushed to exhaustion and yet you have to give, give, give even when it’s not often reciprocated or appreicated. It’s the late night rocking and singing of songs while you let the dishes wait. It’s the times when you have to work simply to put food on the table. It’s the moments where you gather all the courage, tenacity, and bravery that you can find and you fight for your kids and family. It’s in the good mornings and I love you’s and tucking in at night. It’s in learning to love and to thrive in the midst of crazy busy.

All this comparing robs joy and distorts from the being enough moments and beauty of motherhood.

And often creates a culture of aloneness and feeling like one doesn’t measure up.

Enough.

You are enough. (link)

You are amazing and a fighter in a world of expectations. You love on your kids. You do what is best for your kids. And your story will look different from my story from the story of the moms that I met this weekend from the moms reading this in London to the moms in New Zealand to the moms at the doctor’s office and from everybody else.

You matter. You make a difference.

It is not a competition.

So your decisions, your choices, your external things that so often grade motherhood aren’t a grade of success. They are simply part of your story. What if we as women decided to strip away all of those things that could make us compete and instead look at the mom, the person, the friend, the woman that is standing in preschool next to us?

Do you know what we’d find?

A mom. With her story. Real.

A mom with her own moments of bravery. A mom, just like you, living in a world where there is crazy competition. A mom with ups and downs and good times and bad times and moments where this whole motherhood thing makes her need a good cry. Or laugh. A mom whose life isn’t perfect.

Underneath it all, underneath the expectations, the parameters, the never ending ladder of what mothers should be doing, underneath that are moms.

Moms are amazing.

So keep fighting for your kids. Rising up. Brushing their hair. Gathering your courage. Driving where you need to go. Laughing with them. Working. Making dinners. Helping with homework. Saving passwords on the computer. Dealing with sibling issues. Folding socks.  Or doing whatever you need to do and know that in it all that it makes a life difference.

It’s not a competition.

It’s motherhood.

~Rachel

Want to read some inspiring letters to moms? Grab my ebook with 21 original letters. 

10 Responses to “why motherhood is not a competition”

  1. November 25, 2013

    Jen Reyneri Reply

    Beautiful post, Rachel. Truth.

  2. November 26, 2013

    Faigie Reply

    I think in general society has gotten so competitive that Moms just transfer that feeling to their own situations. People in general have to learn to be happy with what they can do without worrying about other peoples opinions

  3. November 26, 2013

    Rachel Martin Reply

    Agreed, Faigie. Agreed.

  4. November 26, 2013

    Life Breath Present Reply

    “Moms don’t need to one-up each other. Moms need to embrace each other.”

    Thought this was poignant! I, too, write about these kinds of pressures at times. The pressure we place on ourselves and one another, yet the importance of just supporting one another instead. 🙂

  5. November 26, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    Another winner!
    Praying for you right now!
    Romans 8:15-18 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
    My email address

  6. November 27, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    Never understand why some posts take off and tons of people sign in and others…not so much. I would have thought this one would have really attracted a lot of attention!
    Asking the Holy Ghost to pray for you with groanings that can’t be uttered!
    Romans 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
    My email address

    • November 30, 2013

      Anonymous Reply

      Maybe because this post is like the last one… And the one before… And the one before.

    • November 30, 2013

      Anonymous Reply

      I mean they all have intriguing titles and then you read them and hope for done thing different. Something more. Instead it’s the same packaged ” I am Mother hear me roar.” ( cue Katy Perry’s ” Roar” in the background. ) ” you are a Mother and you are awesome “. Over and over and over. It strikes me as so sad that all these moms need validation from a blogger they have never met. I don’t know. Maybe they had super moms? And they compare? People have that saying ” it takes a village…” Maybe I am one if the few who doesn’t see the village as anything I would aspire to or be jealous or feel competition with. Makes no sense to me.

  7. Beautiful post. Your words ring true with so many. Just knowing others are out there and sending the encouragement to those that need it matters. Thank you for that and for opening up to share what’s inside. That is beautiful too.

    With love for what you do.

  8. April 30, 2014

    Cari Reply

    In other mom-centered communities, I am finding this ever-present competition. “Well this is the way *I* would have done it, not the dumb way *YOU* did it.” It’s so discouraging.

    Thank you for being a place of encouragement – for new and old moms alike.

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