I’m a Competitive Parent and I’m OK with It
It all began when I was four months pregnant. I was at my monthly prenatal appointment, and I felt my son kick in my womb. It wasn’t the first time I felt him move around, but it was the first time I felt empowered enough to inquire about his performance. I asked the doctor a million questions: “How often should I feel him kick?” “Is he in the 90th percentile for fetus kicks?” “Are his strong kicks an indicator of a future career playing professional soccer?”
It was clear: I showed early signs of CPD. (Competitive Parent Disorder.)
Like any good parent, before my son entered the world, I wanted him to be the best at everything. I read to him and played him classical music in my womb. And when he arrived, my husband and I started him a savings account and purchased the best, BPA-free toys, crib, car seat and strollers.
But my behavior began to take a competitive turn: I realized I was asking friends about their children’s development mainly because I genuinely cared, but also because I was using it as a measuring tool against my son’s. If their kid was sitting up by four months, I wanted mine sitting by three. If their kid was smiling, I wanted mine laughing…and clapping…and telling Jerry Seinfeld-caliber jokes.
My competitiveness hit an all-time high last month when I entered my now seven-month-old into a casting for a major baby brand. After all, my son is objectively cute, right? (Yes.) And he constantly smiles. (Totally.) So of course they’ll choose him for their new campaign. (Nope.) At the casting, my son hardly smiled at all—instead he cried the entire time. Needless to say, they didn’t select him for the campaign, and while I didn’t blame him (I’m not a total bonkers stage mom, guys), deep down I was heartbroken.
And turns out, I’m right to be competitive. According to a 2011 Today Show survey, a whopping 90 percent of moms admit to measuring other women based on the behavior of their children. (These ladies reported judging everything from a child’s weight to how long you do or don’t breastfeed.) In other words, when your child is slow to walk or doesn’t take to potty training…other parents really are taking note.
But it’s more than just ubiquity that makes me feel OK about my competitiveness; it makes sense in the context of who I am outside of motherhood. After all, I’m competitive in every other facet of my life, so why shouldn’t I place an emphasis on my child being the best? Don’t get me wrong: I love my son no matter what. My prayer is simply for him to be a humble winner.
P.S. In case you’re wondering, studies show that by the third trimester, babies move and kick 30 times an hour. My son moved 35 to 40 times. I’m not sure if soccer is in his future, but one thing is for sure: This momma bear is more than ready to be a proud, overzealous soccer mom.