So there you have it: just ten of the reasons why I feel like I’m losing at this sport of competitive parenting. So I’m done. I quit. I’m exhausted and just can’t do it anymore….To the rest of you parents who are as tired of the rat race as I am, won’t you join me over here on this quiet bench in the shade? We can smile and nod at each other (no small talk needed), admire our super-awesome kids, and maybe even sneak a peek at our phones.
I give up. I quit.
Yes, yes, I know. We tell our kids that they shouldn’t quit. When they decide that they don’t actually like soccer after begging to join the team, we make them finish the season. When they ask to quit tae kwon do after we bought the uniform, belt, and gloves, we make them finish the three-month session.
But, look, I just can’t do it anymore. I’ve had enough. I hereby hand in my resignation for this sport of competitive parenting. I’m far enough behind anyway, I doubt anyone will even notice.
Right out of the starting gate, I was behind the pack. I struggled with post-partum depression. I didn’t breastfeed. I let my kids cry it out. I cried it out. I gave my kids whole milk before they were a year old. We didn’t do baby sign language. I fed them yogurt with sugar and fruit snacks (i.e., crack for toddlers). My oldest son’s baby book is a haphazard collection of random dates, and my second son doesn’t even have one.
And it seems that I’ve only fallen farther behind as my kids have gotten older. Everyone else knows what they are doing. Everyone else seems so together. Everyone else has the answers. I’m exhausted, sweaty, and I have a cramp in my leg. Can I just call it quits already?
Wait, what’s that? There is no such thing as competitive parenting, you say. No judgment here, you promise. Well, it may not be a race and you may not be judging, but honest to God, it sure as heck feels like there is this giant rule book – How to Be the Best Parent – that I didn’t get when they shoved my ass out of the hospital exhausted, sore, and scared as all get out.
Like I said, I fell behind right from the start, and here are just a few of the ways in which I’m continuing to lag behind in competitive parenting (if anyone were keeping score, of course):
- Kids Concerts.When my oldest son was in preschool, his class had a holiday concert. While all the other kids were wearing clothes fit to see baby Jesus himself, my son was wearing a t-shirt that said “Monkey Trouble” on it. But, hey, he dressed himself that day which has got to be worth something, right?
- Dinners.We pretty much survive on a constant rotation of mac & cheese (the florescent orange powdered kind), peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and pizza. Baby carrots, apple slices, strawberries, and broccoli do make an appearance, but they are by no means a guarantee.
- Fashion.Look, if my husband comes home from work at night and I’m not in pajamas or yoga pants, he wonders whether he missed a birthday or anniversary. But even aside from my own inability (and unwillingness) to keep up with the latest fashion trends, I have two boys and let me tell you it is like pulling teeth to get them to wear pants with a button for goodness sake, let alone a collared shirt once in a while. They pretty much live in a t-shirt and running pants (which, when you think about it, are kind of just a little boys’ version of yoga pants) and a t-shirt. No matching outfits, no hip fedoras, no trendy hoodies, no stylish sunglasses. Just t-shirts and running pants, one of which is usually dirty before we even leave the house.