It happens to every mother out there. At some point or another you will find yourself in an unspoken mini-competition with another mother. And at different times you will be on different sides of this vicious cycle. It’s likely that the other mother will be someone that you don’t know that well, but it can also end up being someone that you are close to and may even call your friend. Your paths have probably crossed because your children are friends or, worse, your husband’s are friends. It will spawn from a mere mention of your behavior – “Billy’s mom doesn’t do it like that” or “My wife always does it like this”. You may not even have been there when the gauntlet was thrown down, but you will soon find yourself in an embattled state. You will be forced to choose between defending yourself or letting it fall by the wayside.
Which Path to Take
You can choose to partake in the one-upmanship or you can take the higher road. In my mind, if the things that you do for your family are seen as “above and beyond” by other families, oh well. As long as you are comfortable with the amount of effort you put into your family’s happiness, it’s not really anyone else’s business. You shouldn’t make excuses for going the extra mile, specially if you don’t even see it as “extra”. On the other hand, you shouldn’t take offense if you are on the “below and behind” end of the stick. Every family has different priorities and the mother’s behavior will reflect them. In a perfect world, these sort of comparisons would not be made but we live in the real world and it is bound to happen sooner or later. Also keep in mind that doing something different does not always make it better or worse, but just different. And this is a great lesson to teach your whole family as it applies to a vast array of life and it’s incidences.
Addressing the Gauntlet Tossers
When it is your child that has started the war, you need to take the opportunity to talk about family dynamics. They need to know that every family is different and that you can never know what goes on in someone else’s home. And just because Julie’s mom makes her birthday cake from scratch and builds it into a butterfly that looks like it will take flight any minute and Melissa’s mom buys a pre-decorated cake from the grocery store, they both love their daughters. It is also a good time to discuss the idea that some people may exaggerate when “talking up” their parents, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. When you husband starts the war, you need to step in immediately. Grown folks do not need to be pulling the “my dad can beat up your dad” playground crap! It is all well and good to compliment your spouse and express your appreciation. But it should never take on a “mine is better then yours” tone. Some times it will be other moms that start the war. For example, Julie’s mom (who made the cake from scratch) may get ganged up on by the other moms at the party because she did such a great job. In my opinion, the best way to deal with this one is just take it as a compliment and move on. If they want to dislike you because you have the time, the energy or maybe the desire that they don’t then that’s on them. We all have different skills and care to display them as we see fit. In closing, Mom Wars are inevitable. Just make yourself an ally more then a foe and you should be alright!