To ask- why are some mothers like this?

(100 Posts)
SomewhereInYorkshire Tue 29-Jan-13 23:07:40

Just home from long weekend with old university friends and partners+ kids. Girls I've always got on great with, but rarely see nowadays due to work/location. We have kids ranging from 5months to 4 years.

It was all 'Charlie's sleeping though already' / Jessie can already do 1-10 and her ABCs / Lily's so mellow, I think it's because DP and I are so relaxed / Maya's so alert / Charlie hates biscuits, we just can't get him to eat one, he just says "apple mummy"

So much back-patting and boasting, I felt like the only one saying DS walked really late / currently only eats potato / rarely sleeps through at 17mths / is a highly strung little bugger... because you know what? I refuse to be drawn in to the boasting and perpetuate this shite maybe because I don't feel the need as I know deep down DS is the handsomest, cleverest of all

My own mother was highly competitive with me and I often felt like I only existed to make her look good and her love was conditional on that. I refuse to do the same to DS. He can be an annoying little shit but he is my little shit and I adore him.

So what has happened to my friends??? Why do they do it??

Ps little sleeping-through Charlie kept the whole house up most nights!

Berts Wed 30-Jan-13 12:11:41

Just as bad as the competition over who's kid is the best, is the refusal to admit that they're anything other than totally happy and fulfilled by motherhood and everything about it is great, no downside.

I confided in one of my oldest friends that I'd been suffering from PND. It was really difficult for me and she was one of the first peole I'd actually admitted it to.

Her response? "Wow, I can't even imagine that. I've just absolutely loved everything about being a mum. I find it really interesting and fulfilling." Then changed the subject.

FYI, everytime I see her, she does nothing but complain about how difficult her kid is and how my kid is so well-behaved and easy in comparison (which she is - my top parenting tactics of crawling round the floor crying 'I hate this!' and eating lots of biscuits have resulted in a lovely happy toddler who slept through from 5 weeks and very bright and funny - maybe I should write a book...grin)

PatButchersEarring Wed 30-Jan-13 12:37:55

Berts- that's brilliant! Yep, I can see that book on the bestsellers list as we speak! :-)

I don't understand it either. I do think it's done out of insecurity and lack of other stuff going on in people's lives.

Me? I honestly couldn't give a shit which child is doing what when. As long as whatever your child is doing isn't affecting my child, I really couldn't give a flying fuck --because deep down, I know that DD is light years ahead of her peers, and that is down to receiving both my fabulous genes and my fabulous parenting. So why would I need to show off?

naomilpeb Wed 30-Jan-13 12:39:32

I know it is hard, but it is probably best to think of this as a manifestation of insecurity on their part, rather than an attempt to make you feel bad, if you want to carry on spending time with them much! Out of my group of close friends-with-children, there is one woman like this. After almost five years, I understand that she does this to make herself feel good about her parenting and the choices she has made. Why she needs to do this, is all about her insecurities and worries, not about making us feel inferior. And, because I love her for the funny and opinionated woman she often is, and all the times she has brought me cake when I've been down, I'm OK with that now. Which isn't to say that it isn't hard at times and I've had months when I've had a bit of 'down time' from her to keep sane! I guess it depends on whether they have other redeeming features!

I know that I err on the side of 'moaning' rather than boasting, and I need to stop myself sometimes too, or I'll become boring and miserable (because no one really wants to know the ins and outs of my children's lack of sleep every week) and do my wonderful children a disservice. DP calls me up on it, and he's quite right. I have managed to stop myself from saying to friends with new babies 'just you wait', but I have thought it oh so many times. It's a tricky balance...

Susan2kids Wed 30-Jan-13 12:46:06

"o what has happened to my friends??? Why do they do it??" Genrerally most parents come to the realisation that their child is rather normal, this means they must desperately try and prove its so much better than everyone elses... you can try dissausion techniques. as follows.

Other: My child is walking at 6 months!
You: Oh dear, thats so sad hell probably hav joint and limb problems when hes older I hope you didnt encourage it.

Other: Charlie hates biscuits, we just can't get him to eat one, he just says "apple mummy"

You: Oh dear he doesnt understand how to ask for something properly yet?

These will stop te boasting but also often end up with said parents not talking to you.....which might be good.

Ionasky Wed 30-Jan-13 12:54:15

Berts - shocked at your friend's response - i can understand people saying the wrong thing inadvertently, but that's really lame. the other people must be right - some people can't acknowledge a hint of a less than wonderful reality otherwise they'll crumble. Sucks for you. my bf had pnd (as did my mum) and it was awful, good luck with the recovery.

SamSmalaidh Wed 30-Jan-13 13:04:40

I'm so glad none of my friends are boasty types (not middle class enough grin).

I have two friends with same age children. Of our three - 2 walked early, one walked later, a different 2 potty trained early, one later, 1 talked early, 2 a bit later, one slept through early, one at a reasonable age, and one barely even now (mine!). So a total mixed bag, and no bragging about who was doing what first.

Zipitydooda Wed 30-Jan-13 13:19:37

It's also so, so boring to spend your time talking about and listening to the minutiae of other peoples' parenting/children.

Maybe you have all drifted a bit and conversation is not natural anymore? Too few other shared interests etc

Thumbwitch Wed 30-Jan-13 13:35:32

I'm so glad that the mums I know don't do this, mostly. If anything, we "compete" about how shit our lives are, and what the children aren't achieving, or how badly behaved they're being. (This might be almost as bad, not sure).

But if anyone did try that shit on me, I'd still just be honest and say that whatever DS1 has/hasn't done, it's because I'm lucky; not because I'm so fab at parenting. I'm sure DS2 will soon start to destroy any illusions I may still have about my own parenting skills, anyway! grin

Bakingtins Wed 30-Jan-13 13:48:19

I think it's more prevalent in women who've given up or suspended a high-flying career to be at home with kids and therefore their whole "raison d'etre" is the kids making stellar progress. Worst offender in my group of friends is now a SAHM, all of us who have since returned to work have other fish to fry!
Have decided that most of it is heavily exaggerated or edited, so smile and nod and in your head fill in what they are NOT saying.

CockyPants Wed 30-Jan-13 13:50:37

I had to stop going to my NCT group reunions. The other 4 mums did nothing apart from harp on about my 'late' walking DD (she walked at 13 months which is normal); her breast refusing (I was last to stop BFing at 16 months); her late toilet training ( she was dry during the day at 3yrs). The last straw was us choosing private school for DD. The venom...

Thumbwitch Wed 30-Jan-13 13:59:12

I think that's maybe too sweeping a generalisation, Bakingtins - although you did say SAHMs who have given up/suspended a high-flying career, so maybe not - most of the mums I know are SAHMs but without the ambitious career, so no need to justify anything to anyone and they don't do this.

OrdinarySoup Wed 30-Jan-13 13:59:42

Thumbwitch - I think the negative "boasting" can be worse! Normal boasting to me is easier to dismiss, but the competition between women to be having a harder time than everyone else is pretty demoralising - the implication often is "you've got it so much easier - what are you moaning about". I have actually broken contact with someone who constantly complained about how tough she has it. Moaning was not for support or solidarity but for airtime and weird one-upmanship. Yuck.

Thumbwitch Wed 30-Jan-13 14:05:39

Oh no, that's not what I meant, Ordinary! We don't do that. More the "I'm such a slattern, DS wasn't even dressed before 10am", "I have the children's channel on for DS far too much during the day but at least it helps when we fly back to the UK"
It's all self-deprecatory rather than "my life is such shit no one can have it as hard as I do", which is what you are talking about, isn't it?

Beamur Wed 30-Jan-13 14:06:32

grin at Lafaminute and Mumupmanship! So true and funny when you put it like that!
I love my DD to bits but rarely get to do the 'my DD is better than this at other kids' boast - because she rarely is!! Her best friend however, is brilliant at everything! Luckily she has a sweet, funny, down to earth Mum who I've yet to hear boast.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 30-Jan-13 14:06:49

It doesn't get any better as the kids get older. I see a lot of boasty mums of secondary school kids. Mainly on FB, there's a couple of parents who every week day are putting something on along the lines of - well done Lily for getting 99% in your maths exam, well done for getting 4 praise slips this week, well done for getting the Year 8 award for the most annoying mum best child in the world ever.

You could forgive the odd one, but it seems non stop at times. And even though the messages are addressed to the child the kid doesn't have a FB acc. So its not exactly for them is it? Its so everyone else can see how wonderful their child is.

Pride comes before a fall.

If I ever mention one of DD's good qualities or abilities then I can guarantee that I will be disproven within 24 hours. If I say "DD sleeps through" she will be up 3 times that night. If I say she is rarely ill, she will vom down one of us by nightfall. She even unlearnt counting to 10, which she could do perfectly well 6 months ago.

She is an easy child (I don't mean this boastfully), so I don't have tales of woe to use in the competitive parenting discussions I seem to come across. I really have nothing but good things to say about her. But I don't want to seem competitive about it or make people feel shit.

OrdinarySoup Wed 30-Jan-13 18:42:06

Ah, Thumbwitch - got you. Sorry it triggered a rant about a pet hate of mine!

Hobbitation Wed 30-Jan-13 18:52:06

I think really though it comes of being proud of their kids and thinking they are amazing. I'd prefer that than the alternative. It's just a learning curve of new social skills for new parents. I always had to make a positive effort not to show off, (I still do at times) and to feign interest in other people's kids as I largely wasn't interested at all, only in my own PFB.

Hobbitation Wed 30-Jan-13 18:56:12

Have to say I'd never come across competitive housework until I joined MN. My friends are like "Oh God, my house is a tip and I can't be arsed".

Whereas quite a number of people on here are like "I wash 4 beds every day and iron for 6 hours, if your house isn't spotless you are letting your family down"

Oh rite hmm

It's so much easier to ignore competitive housework. I know my house would look better if I spent more time on it, I just don't care. However implied faults of DD are not from lack of effort and I do care about that.

kerala Wed 30-Jan-13 20:03:03

Bollocks Bakingtins. I am (and know) several SAHMs who gave up high flying careers and we are definitely not competitive parents what a cliche.

OP dump them. Honestly lifes too short. I have binned all the competitive parents I had as friends - not before baffling them with non competitiveness though they hate that grin

FlouncingMintyy Wed 30-Jan-13 20:04:22

If you happen to have one who smiles early, sits up early, crawls early, walks early, sleeps through early, potty trains early, eats well early, reads early, you must never ever talk about him/her (even if you have no clue if it is doing it early or late) in case a.n.other Mumsnetter feels vulnerable. Gavel.

MrsKeithRichards Wed 30-Jan-13 20:04:48

I'm the opposite. As the mum of my second dream baby I feel totally left out of the competitive misery that goes on at toddlers.

MamaBear17 Wed 30-Jan-13 20:17:51

I agree that the competitiveness is not nice and I hate the idea of people comparing their children and judging each other. However, I am a first time mum and I know I am guilty of banging on about my dd and how brilliant I think she is. I think the reason I am so in awe of her now (she is 18mo) is because we had such an awful start. I didnt produce milk so failed at breastfeeding (was ordered by my GP to stop, it was genuinely a medical issue - clearly you can see how insecure I am about this because I still feel like I need to justify it to a bunch of strangers over the internet!) DD also had colic and she cried all day long. It was literally a two hour cycle of her screaming, me doing everything I could to try and soothe her, struggle to feed her (she wouldn't take more than an ounce at a time, even at 4 months old) and then walk up and down the living room holding her until she fell asleep for twenty minutes, before the whole soul destroying cycle started again. At 10 weeks we were prescribed Colief which helped a lot, and by 5 months she was slightly easier I was coping better generally. Then she started to do things like sit up, crawl, giggle, babble, and then walk, talk, play, kiss and cuddle and I was just over the moon. Partly because I was starting to discover the joys of motherhood, but also because I was so relieved that there actually wasn't anything wrong with her. It was just colic, it did pass and she was hitting developmental milestones left, right and centre. I felt so inadequate in the early days, I think I am just guilty of getting a little carried away with my PFB. She still doesnt sleep through the night though, I will admit that much!

utopian99 Wed 30-Jan-13 22:39:04

Kerala - that's the key to these people; the thing they seem to hate the most is you not caring and not competing back!

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