by Michelle Riddell
Lately, I have noticed a competitive tone underlying the seemingly innocuous small talk amongst mothers. In certain cases, it borders on the hostile. “Hi, how are you? How are the kids?” has turned into, “Hi, where are you off to? You’re going home? Must be nice to have time to sit around!”
When you find yourself in one of these acquaintance show-downs, you must quickly launch into a monologue touting the crazy, hectic schedule of your own family or risk losing the “Who’s busier?” battle for that round.
Across a multitude of school districts, mothers seem to be enamored with how jam-packed their schedules are, how few hours they sleep each night and how little free time they have. It is a new strain of keeping up with the Joneses — to be too busy to do anything but complain about how busy you are. If you aren’t racing your kids to their activities, rushing through some food window or feeling dead tired after staying up all night finishing a project, you’re just not cool. I heard of one mom who declared her children too busy to attend school. She now home schools them from her car.
When did it become chic to be run-down, chronically late and have no time for yourself or your husband? And just what is the prize for the most frazzled week or for the best rendition of self-sacrifice? Is it the crabbiest kids on the block or the deepest furrows in your brow?
If you think about it, this competition is really a contest, which I, for one, am not going to partake in any longer. I forfeit, quit, give up; mercy, uncle; I invoke the slaughter rule. And it’s not because I had no chance of winning, either. It’s because I want my family to have the best of me, not the rest of me. It’s because I see how my recently widowed friend mopes around with plenty of time to do everything she needs to do, only now it means doing it alone instead of with her husband. It’s because I don’t function well under the pressure of the entire world. It’s because a stressed mom isn’t that much fun.
I invite you to join me in the Drop-out Exhibition Race (the one where results aren’t tallied). Let the games begin. We need to support each other as moms, not try to outdo one another, all the way across the childhood finish line.
Michelle Riddell is the Publicity Chairperson for the Byron Michigan Area MOPS. She has a 5-year-old daughter, two college-age stepsons, two dogs, and a wonderful husband.