Posted by Duff

Guess who’s a better mom than you are?

Not me. But I bet you know someone who acts like she is.

Remember when you were in school and the kid next to you asked, “Psst! What’d you get on the test?” I always wanted to flick that kid. I mean, what business was it of hers? Did she get a better grade? (And did she ever admit to what her grade was?)

Chances are, she needed to know you got a lower score, so could feel better about her own.

I’m often surprised that some aren’t willing to leave sixth grade behind, considering how awkward and self-loathing a time it can be. (For sixth-graders like me, anyway).

Parenting has a knack for stirring up the stinging self-consciousness of the awkward tween years. Only instead of Who Needs A Bra (versus who is still has boobs in training) or Who Has The Right Clothes (versus who gets dissected), it’s Whose Kid Proves Her To Be The Best Parent (and that leaves all moms but The Best banished from The Plastics‘ table).

I’ll admit that I still don’t need a bra. My husband has to help me choose the right clothes. But one thing is certain: I’m not going to put the burden on my child to prove that I’m the best mom. And I’m not going to point fingers at others to gain membership to the ‘in’ crowd. I’m too busy pointing that finger at myself when I temporarily forget that:

  • It’s no measure of your parenting if your kid cries when others’ kids don’t.
  • If another kid walks/talks/files taxes before your kid does, you haven’t failed. And your kid will be fine.
  • It’s ok to want alone time. You’ll probably be more sane for it. And your kid will learn a healthy lesson about balance.
  • If you have to work, and, more specifically is you CHOOSE to work, you aren’t the Anti-Mom.
  • It’s ok if you don’t cook from scratch. You can serve from the microwave with love.
  • It’s ok if (for whatever reason, and you needn’t qualify) you didn’t breastfeed or you stopped before the AAP recommends. It really, really is.

I could go on, but you know this song. I just thought it needed an encore.

Most anyone who knows anything The Dervish knows that she was not the calmest baby, and from day two she stood for little in the way of outside suggestion on how she should be handled or what was best for her, and what worked for so many others would not work for her, so take that, Mommy.

She slowly becomes more conventional, more on par with what is expected from someone her age. But since she spent so much time (impatiently) training me to approach parenting from her perspective, I feel much more free to pave my own way based on what works for us. To make our own normal. To accept us both as we are.

So, about that mother who advertises  hints that she’s doing a better job. The one who takes oddly cheerful jabs at your way of doing things with a smile on her face, and judgement in her eyes. Listen for the question mark:

I just don’t understand why someone would do it that way? Since I did XYZ, my toddler has been recruited by the best preschools in the country. I’m not saying he’s gifted or anything, he’s just way ahead of the curve? And he never cried like that? Have you tried XYZ?

I feel really, really sorry for her. She must be exhausted, pretending she doesn’t doubt herself like all good mothers do.