Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

March 31, 2010

Everybody's talking about.....

....competition. If there was a competition for 'Theme of the week', the winner would be 'competition'. This has been discussed and debated this week all over the blogosphere, in national newspapers and even on Desperate Housewives.

I recently wrote a light-hearted post about the competitiveness of mums. It received some very interesting comments which suggested that this is not a laughing matter to most and is an aspect of motherhood which most of us could do without. But if we're all saying that, then someone must be lying, otherwise who is doing all the back-stabbing and competing?

In an excellent post yesterday,
The Noble Savage brilliantly dissected an article written in the weekend's Observer Magazine, where it was implied that mummy competition is getting so fierce we're not far off being issued with bullet-proof vests as we leave the maternity hospitals. This got me wondering. Are we really all trying to sabotage each other's already fragile beliefs that we're doing the best job we can and if so, why? Is it simply just a way of validating our personal approach to mothering. If our kid is the best, then surely by default, so are we. And maybe that proof that we're good at our jobs is something we all crave.

Then, in last night's Desperate Housewives, Gaby and Susan start competing about their children's academic ability, and whether they are in the Leopard (advanced) or, god forbid, Giraffe (average) maths class. I'd like to think that such frenzied 'mom competition' is TV drama at it's best (or worst). My child starts school in September so I'm sure I'll find out then just how much of this is fiction, or reality.

Also this week, we saw the launch of The MADs, 'the Mummy and Daddy (MAD) Blog Awards, celebrating the utter brilliance of British parent blogs.' Competition, or celebration? Some excellent posts from
Babyrambles, Sleep is for the Weak and You've Got Your Hands Full offered their respective viewpoints on this matter.

Having seen the level of interest this has sparked and obvious joy this has brought to those nominated, I can only conclude that the MADs is a positive addition to the community. I was genuinely surprised and delighted that someone nominated me for the Most Innovative Blogger (moi?). I didn't seek a nomination and it can't be friends or family as they won't be aware of The MADs (until after they read this). To be considered good at any of this by a fellow blogger means a lot. As I wrote in a recent article about why I blog, 'all this gives me a great sense of belonging and personal achievement; two things which would otherwise be hard to find as I put on another load of washing and stand on another lego brick in my bare feet'.

Of course, the MADs will produce winners and losers (and surely that is the definition of a competition), but maybe if we're all grown ups about it, we can admire the eventual winners and applaud their badges of honour in recognition for a job well done.

So, maybe an element of competition in our lives is inevitable and at times welcome. As long as we don't end up dodging any bullets and remind ourselves that after all is said and done, it's not the winning, it's the taking part. All you can ever do is your best and what feels right for you. And we'd do well to remember that as both mothers and bloggers.
Read more about the mother behind the words in my interview with



  1. Its all so hard isn't it. I'm such a naturally competitive person that motherhood in a suburban town full of moneyed Stepford Wives isn't suiting me all that well at the moment.

    I fall in and out of love with blogging, but for me I think the whole competitive aspect has really put a downer on it for me. I definitely enjoyed it more before all these cliques, groups, reviews, awards, memes etc. I have tried going private, but my friends and family keep losing their passwords and hastling me. So I must 'public' blog and I feel compelled to take part in it all. Not good for my overall frame of mind, or in fact for my blog as you can chart the decline in quality of posts over the past three years... I'm rambling now.
    Excellent thought provoking post!

  2. Excellent points. I'm very much in two minds about competitive blogging. Part of me things blogging is a release and a sharing and another part - one I don't actually like much - thinks I'll be missing something if I don't have a go.

  3. I don't do memes/awards/tags as I like to write about whatever I want really (that's the truth of it)- if I spent time doing the other things I'd never get to do that and my blog is my place to put things that no-one wants to listen to me go on about in my real day.

    I didn't know anything about the MADS until this week when they were suddenly on every blog! How did you find out if you were nominated by the way?? I did see there were some amazing prizes si I guess it's more than just the sunshine award type thing that goes round?

    I'm not great at competition or politics it usually puts me off whatever it is at the time: ballet lessons/piano/drama at school/graduation committee etc etc (an endless list of things I though 'oooh no this isn't for me anymore I only started to have a laugh') I don't think I'll ever think that about blogging because I genuinely write what I want when I want sometimes lots of people comment and sometimes no-one comments and it's all cool with me.

    As you say I am very to be taking part. It keeps me going when George's nappy has leaked for the 5th time that week, I have no clothes with shoulders free of baby food, my husband has filled the dishwasher but not turned it on!!!!!!!

    Good luck in the MADS! XX

  4. Great post, yes most of us are naturally competitive and many of us are threatened by it too. I don't feel threatened by it as I'm fairly comfortable in my own skin, but I do have concerns about possible fall-outs from it. You put it well 'as long as we're all grown ups about it'. Hmmm, I hope we can be! And I hope no one's feeling left out by it all. I nominated today and found it really, really hard. There are about five more blogs I really wanted to include. It's an exciting time and I love the debate it's provoking. I hope it all stays good natured. Thanks for the mention and well done on the interview! (PS my son starts school in Sept too - shall we start some tit for tat competitive parenting blog posts between us?) : )

  5. I love being part of a group online as well. I suppose that's why I loved my nomination. It just made me so happy that someone (don't know who) was thinking of me from afar.

  6. The world is gone MAD (couldn't resist lol, sorry). Have seen a fair bit about this. I guess the competitive thing is always there, but there is a choice as to whether we go that route or not. Maybe sometimes we get sucking in without realising. Not sure, but time will tell :) Jen.

  7. It's a bit like sales, isn't it? Whether you enjoy selling, are good at it, or recoil in horror at the mere thought, we are all salespeople one way or another. Regardless of if we like it or not.

    Whether you are 'selling' your skills for a job position, 'selling' an idea to a friend, 'selling' the value of nutritious food to your offspring... you get the idea.

    Re the MADs: all a bit self-serving really. Whilst I appreciate the overall feel-good nature of the awards, I personally think it is just a PR stunt and will set more noses out of joint than necessary. Am just waiting to see how many toys get thrown from the pram.

    It reminds me of a very close friend and her antics: if I swim 20 lengths of the pool, she had done 40; if I do 25, she has done 60...
    In the end you just say "Oh f*ck it! Get a life!"

    There is so much more out there than trying to 'one-up' those nearest to you.

    LCM x

  8. I am new to blogging, and so far totally (and happily) oblivious to this stuff.
    I do think that blogging, by its very nature, will attract (in the main) those that feel they have something to say and also who like the sound of their own voice in some respect. I mean that in the nicest possible way, and include myself in this. I can't imagine anyone writing a blog and not ideally wanting it to be read and enjoyed by others. So, a competition is an inevitable end to this.
    of course i'll be there next year with a big VOTE FOR ME sign on my site ;<)

  9. Ummmmmmm. None of this stuff is aparent or in the press or in the blogging world here is Australia. (As far as I am aware, at any rate!) Interesting times.....

  10. Hi - just popped round to say have a great Easter and I love the new header, though I was very fond of Mrs Beeton.

    I'm not sure about the MAD thing myself - I'm just going to carry on with blinkers protecting me and not get involved as I hate competition between parents (perhaps it's my age speaking for once?!) Oh dear! Anyway, well done on your nomination and good luck.

    Can I just ask you a favour; one or two folk have said my new posts don't appear on their list every time - one said that her list said I hadn't posted for 3 weeks. I usually do one a week. Could you confirm (as I sort of know you!!) if you can see if and when I've done a new post? (If not, it's back to the drawing board. Perhaps it's the feeders. Pigeon post may be easier than all this hassle!!!

  11. It's weird - I think you can choose to opt out of the competitive elements sometimes (this requires large doses of ignoring at times). I must admit, with my close group of friends and mums I have rarely felt I was suddenly under pressure.. maybe however this is due to my constant pregnancy brain and therefore most things go over my head! As for blogging, I did feel extremely under pressure for a while and it really took the joy out of it for me. Then I got sick and got side-tracked by chromosomes and pregnancy exhaustion and suddenly the pressure fell away. I now remember why I love blogging - and I dip in and out when I can. My advice to those who find either parenting or blogging too competitive is to try and have the confidence to be yourself and follow your own road. It can be a lot more pleasant than the overcrowded roads....

  12. Yes, agreed. Touchy subject of late isn't it? I have a post on this very subject and also what my own personal future of blogging is, half finished in my drafts. Not ready to hit publish on it! Daft or wot?

  13. Ooh, you have a nice new blog header! While you're waiting to hear how you get on in the Mads, there's an award for you over at mine!

  14. PS I may have sorted my dissemination of posts problem by clicking on something in my settings box.....can you just drop me a line if I appear in your bloglist again?! It's very annoying (also sorry to ask!) xx

  15. I awarded you the Kreativ Blogger Award then realized Slummy Single Mummy had tagged you too. Well you deserve it darling. Please do the meme. xx

  16. Emily Babyrambles has just directed me over to you and I'm so glad she did. There seems to be a lot of competition discussions going on...I've just written a post on the same subject....loved your Competitive Parent post too- so true! :)

  17. I agree - its nice that it hasn't caused a massive fall out in the blogging world, I'm hoping it stays that way and doesn't become a big popularity contest with the angst that will cause (at least to me !)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin