“Just you wait until you have two kids, then you’ll know what hard is.”
A toxic phenomenon
“Two kids! Ha! Try having more little bottoms to wipe than you have arms? Now THAT’s struggle-ville.”
“No, how about pretending you don’t have a baby when at work and you don’t have a job when at home? At least you don’t have to work!”
And so it goes on …
One-upmumship (see what I did there?), is a particularly toxic phenomenon that festers within our mum culture.
It’s basically when another mum (and I say mum because I haven’t seen this occur among dads, but maybe they cop it too?) makes you feel inferior and a little bit shit because she seems to imply that you have it easier than her, or that your mum-life is more manageable than hers.
She may not be intentionally being mean, she might actually be trying to make you feel better by using the ‘someone always has it tougher’ line of thinking, but the end result is you feel less than. That you shouldn’t have said anything to her, because, really, what do you know?
But personally, I’m sick of one-upmumship! So. Very. Sick. Of. It. Because I think it disempowers us.
Now I feel it’s time I spoke out against it. Raised some awareness, if you will. And also, spread some positive ways we can lift each other up as mums. Because at the end of the day, aren’t we all doing it tough? And aren’t we all in this together?
So, here’s what I’m thinking.
Hard is relative, so let’s keep that in mind
The first thing we need to acknowledge is that every stage of motherhood is hard.
The newby mum being tortured by erratic hormones and a general feeling of overwhelm is doing it tough. So is the seasoned working mum of four trying to juggle it all. Sure, the first timer only has one baby to look after, but she’s finding her wobbly new mum feet, and she may also even be on the verge of an emotional breakdown. She needs support. Acknowledgement that how she’s feeling is justified and that we are there to help her.
She doesn’t need to be told, “I would trade the toddler stage for the newborn one any day. So much easier!”
What I’m saying is that ‘hard’ is a relative thing. So let’s just be a little more mindful, and maybe make that casserole for her to pop in the freezer.
Mumming isn’t a competitive sport
The thing that I think really grates on me with one-upmumship is that it turns motherhood into a competitive sport. Pitting us against each other in some kind of twisted contest.
But motherhood is a journey, not a race. And one that is much more enjoyable when shared with fellow mums who are treading it alongside us.
If you feel your mum circle is getting a bit competitive, then it might be time to get a little selective with who you hang out with for playdates.
Surround yourself with those who boost you up and cheer you on, rather than knock you down by making you feel, well, a bit crap.
Mums need to feel empowered. That we’ve got this. That we are doing great, even on the hard days. And that our mum-friends have our backs. Always.
Let’s be empathetic
Sometimes all we really need to hear from a fellow mum is that she understands where we are at. And if she’s ‘been there before’ that she gets it. And will support us.
Sound considered advice, especially if it’s along the lines of, “You do what feels right for you and your baby,” is always appreciated, too. As is a hug and words of encouragement.
So the next time you hear a bit of one-upmumship within your circle, don’t be afraid to call it out. Or if you don’t want to do that, because you know the person who said it didn’t actually mean any harm, then steer the conversation to be a positive one. You never know how it might be impacting another mum sitting on the shared rug surrounded by nappies and sippy cups.
Mums unite! And let’s put an end to one-upmumship.
More posts about mum-friends: