When the whistle blew, all the 3 year olds had the soccer ball under their feet, except my child. I stole it from her and was trapping it under my foot….and sadly, I felt a bit of excitement that I ‘won.’
I admit, I have issues.
Before children, my husband and I wanted to motivate each other to regularly work out so we created a competitive way of earning points and whoever won, got a prize that we discussed at great length. We hung the chart, which kept track of our points, in our kitchen so I walked by it all the time. I’d point out when I was ahead and often times, gloated.
Just yesterday (six years later) I walked into my home from work, to find my husband (who was working at home) with both kids down for naps, 4 loads of laundry done, a spotless laundry room, presents put away a new box of dishes (from Christmas – yes, it’s April) and an immaculate kitchen and family room.
You would think I would have been happy, grateful and appreciative, wouldn’t you? Nope…I was ticked! How could he do all that while I was away for only a few hours? I am home with the kids most of the time when I am not working, and can NOT get any of that done in a full day. He did it in within a few hours. I started to feel guilty that I can not get all that done!
The competitive beast in me came out and I stood in disbelief. I thought, ‘surely he was not doing something….I mean, he had to have dropped the ball on SOMETHING in order to get all this stuff done, right?’ Then I started thinking, ‘Well I am just more present with the kids…. He lets them watch movies while he cleans….’ Just to feel better about myself.
…when I stopped myself. I was competing against my HUSBAND? For cleaning? This was ridiculous!
I wonder how often Moms, on purpose or not, compete? Maybe we compete on looks…how ‘together’ a Mom looks to have it, or on kids’ behavior (why do her kids ALWAYS listen to her?) or extracurricular activities (How does she stomach driving her kids to 5 different activities every day?) or marital happiness, “Why does she always seem so in love with her husband?)
And why do we do this? To feel better about ourselves. Sometimes, we become jealous that we don’t look as put together as that Mom. Sometimes, we feel better, “Well at least my kid doesn’t do THAT!” But in either scenario, we are doing ourselves an injustice. We are competing and comparing due to our own insecurities. Comparing has more to do with ourselves than it has to do with whoever we are competing with… I was insecure that if my husband can clean better, do laundry faster (and put it away!), work smarter, and get the kids to behave more than I can….what am I bringing to the table? (Silly I know….because I would never consider a strength of mine “being a laundry master”…. Even writing it, it’s a bit embarrassing!)
If anything, use what you see and respect in others to help yourself. I could go about my day, eyeing my husband, secretly thinking “I am more present with the kids; you may clean faster but the kids have more fun with me” or I could use this experience to take what I can from this situation and learn more about me! I learned today that competition has a place and it’s not in my marriage. I know what my strengths are in my family’s household but it wasn’t until this experience that I had to remind myself what they were and let go of the need to compete!
Once I got over myself, I saw that my husband worked pretty darn hard that day. I thanked him and moved on (okay it did take an hour but eventually I got over myself!)
In what part of your life might you be competing? What might this be revealing about yourself? Use this experience to learn and grow!