Parents are a competitive bunch.
Despite the fact that every single one of us is just taking shots in the dark and flying by the seat of our pants, we’re still constantly trying to one-up each other when it comes to both our parenting styles and our kids’ accomplishments. Instead of uniting against our children, the authors of our pain, procreation tends to make parents close ranks and face off against one another.
In multiple ways.
We secretly judge each other’s techniques, from the way we feed our kids to how we sleep-train and discipline them, from what we name our kids to how much and what kind of screen-time we give them. Nobody knows what they’re doing but that doesn’t stop all of us from wondering who’s doing it best.
We’re always comparing our kids to each other’s, to both benchmark our own and to determine whose kids are best. Obviously, we all know our own kids are the best, but that’s based more on mutual hatred of other people’s children. My kids are terrible but I still prefer them to yours. It’s “the devil you know.” It’s biology. It’s because preferring someone else’s kids would be weird AF!
On top of those age-old battles, a new kind of competition has emerged. As more and more parents have clued into – and stopped being ashamed to admit! – how much parenting (sometimes/often/usually) sucks, we’ve begun competing about who has it worse.
This new one-upmanship is not about how good a parent you are, it’s about how bad you have it.
Who’s more tired?
“Oh my god I’m so tired. My baby woke up every twenty minutes last night. I can barely keep my eyes open.”
“At least he’s not in bed with you! Co-sleeping is hell. I need all the coffee.”
“My son is Freddy Kruger. I CAN’T sleep or I’ll literally die.”
Who’s more busy?
“Between the cleaning and the laundry and the grocery shopping, I have no time to do anything else!”
“Tell me about it. I spend my entire day driving my kids to and from different appointments and then I spend the night folding clothes.”
“I’m not even here right now. This is a hologram; I’m actually at home emptying the diaper genie and wiping mac & cheese off the wall.”
Who’s more broke?
“Daycare costs a fortune!”
“My 10-year-old plays hockey. We had to take out a second mortgage just to afford the equipment.”
“In order to pay for my daughter’s piano lessons I’ve had to start hooking.”
We get it. You’re tired, you’re busy, you’re broke; we all are. It’s called parenting!
Don’t get me wrong, I love venting about my kids. Mocking them is not only fun, it’s easy! It keeps me sane. (I only mean it 95% of the time, I swear!) But this new kind of one-upmanship misses the point. I’m not sure there’s a lot of value in measuring the degrees of suckitude.
We’re all drowning, who cares who’s drowning fastest?
I know your life sucks, you have kids! It’s written all over your face. I started an entire instagram account dedicated to parents making fun of the ways things (their faces, their lives) have deteriorated once they procreated. But I started it out of solidarity, not to keep standings.
Parenting is a brotherhood, a not-so-exclusive club that we’re all a part of. Our kids are what unite us, the pain and exhaustion and stress and debt they cause is what connects us to each other. Or at least serves as a fun ice-breaker. Despite small differences in our levels of frustration and despair, we’re bound together by the fact that we inexplicably decided to sacrifice our lives to the service of little human projects that will neither understand our tireless, thankless efforts nor bear the fruit of them until decades from now.
We shouldn’t be trying to outdo each other with our tales of woe, we should be blaming our kids for them.