My competitive inner parent

Sometimes I wish she would quieten down. Occasionally I wish I had listened to her. Mostly I try to ignore her. She is my inner competitive parent.

Her voice keeps asking my why my baby isn’t crawling. She keeps telling me my daughter should be eating lumpier foods and bigger meals. She keeps reminding me that my son at the same age was cruising round the furniture and almost walking.

Her voice asks me why my son still has his ongoing health problems. She questions why he won’t eat anything other than plain pasta and porridge. She reminds me that while we’ve made progress on these fronts, things should be a lot better than they are.

She questions whether I’m handling tantrums and the terrible twos correctly. She wonders out loud whether I’m just getting food for babies and toddlers all wrong. In her quietest voice she asks me if I’m simply no good at this thing that is parenting.

Insistently, and still in that voice, she asks whether I’ll ever be good enough for them, my two babies.

My inner competitive parent seeds enough self-doubt in my mind that I don’t need to compare myself to other parents. I’ve realised, this constant comparing, this constant competing – I’m only doing it with myself.

I have no parents at playgroups who I compare notes with regarding how many hours a day our babies nap for. I have no NCT mum friends who I share beef goulash recipes with while watching their babies down whole bowls of organic home-made lumpy food. I have no peers who I admire for their constant ability to entertain their children. I have no Pintrest boards full of mums who craft for hours on end with their toddlers and never seem to get frazzled.

You see, I don’t compare myself to the other mums. I realised years ago it was futile. I knew, after the birth of my first child, that every child would progress differently. I knew, then, that every mother would follow her instincts and bring up her child in the way that was right for them. I knew then that trying to make the yummiest scones for playgroup or trying to judge whether my child was smiling first was a complete and utter waste of time.

But now I have two children, only 18 months apart with the youngest nearly 11 months, there’s a new kind of competition at stake. I’m just about winning the battle not to compare my two children to each other, even internally. But I’m losing the battle against the mother I want to be.

I know it’s enough to love them with every inch of my being. I know it’s enough to live and breathe them. I know it’s enough to always put them first, do anything for them, and give up everything I have if it’s what they need. I know that wanting the world for them, that trying to be the best I can for them, that constantly questioning myself and trying to do better for them – I know all this is enough. I know wanting to teach them to be kind and loving and gentle and fair and just is enough. I know that inspiring them to follow their dreams and fight for their beliefs is enough.

But I still cant seem to quiet her, my inner competitive parent. She just keeps asking, am I doing this right? Am I as good as the mother I want to be? Is it really good enough?


17 Comments on My competitive inner parent

  1. over40andamumtoone
    June 24, 2014 at 9:24 pm (3 years ago)

    Not a problem I have unfortunately, but I do see friends struggle at times, I think it’s probably worse with two children on the same sex.

  2. Amy 2boys1mum
    June 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh Kiran! You are bloody brilliant at this whole parenting thing! Don’t let that voice get to you 🙂 xxx

  3. Own It All Today
    June 24, 2014 at 10:55 pm (3 years ago)

    I totally understand this. I have a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old. It’s tough. I have issues with anxiety and had a rough childhood so I’m constantly judging myself against the mother I want to be. I am in therapy and I’ve just enrolled in a parenting class to ‘make sure’ I’m doing things right as I do not want to repeat any ‘mistakes’ of my own parents. I just want the best for my kids. I want them to have it better than I did.

  4. Donna
    June 24, 2014 at 11:55 pm (3 years ago)

    You know, you are doing everything just right, perfectly in fact because you are doing everything as well as you possibly can and at the end of it your children will turn out just fine! Perfect! x

  5. seychellesmama
    June 25, 2014 at 7:19 am (3 years ago)

    Don’t you just hate that inner parent, I have one too….she’s a bitch making me feel like the worst mum ever!! This is a fantastic post Kiran, something I reckon most parents will be able to relate to! Xx

  6. CardTherapy
    June 25, 2014 at 8:51 am (3 years ago)

    Hi, Lovely post! I agree with the other commenters and think it is very common to question ourselves as parents. I also think it is healthy to be self aware and reflect and consider whether we would do things differently if we had another chance. I think the answer is probably mostly no, because we all do what we think is right, every day. My boys are 18 months apart and although I worry about sibling rivalry, they actually more often than not, encourage each other to do/try things they normally wouldn’t. Although it’s a battle to keep myself from being overly anxious/worrying/questioning/derisory about my mothering, I also understand I’m doing the best I can every day and am only human. As long as my boys know I love them unconditionally then I’m happy.
    It’s a tough job but got great perks!
    Emma x

  7. sarahmo3w
    June 25, 2014 at 8:53 am (3 years ago)

    This made me sad! It’s sad that you feel deep down that you’re not good enough while your rational side knows you most definitely are! Listen to the rational side because she speaks the truth.
    After three kids I know every single one is different – I had two early talkers and a late one, two fussy eaters and a good one, an early crawler and two late ones. As they’ve grown up they’ve got increasingly different, but they all have their strengths and I know they all require slightly different parenting.

  8. Jenny
    June 25, 2014 at 9:45 am (3 years ago)

    First off, it was so AMAZING to meet you this weekend at BritMums. You are just as amazing as I thought you would be from your blog. Secondly, this post is like reading my very own thoughts. I couldn’t believe it. I was nodding along and in agreement so many times here. We have the same age kids and the age gender. And it seems they are very similar in sets too. Buba was far more advanced then MM is at this point and it is SOOO hard to quiet that voice in my head too. I wish I could. I am always second guessing my parenting and what the way I go about things too. So hard to not be that competitive comparing parent isn’t it? Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me glad I am not alone. #sharewithme

  9. Notmyyearoff
    June 25, 2014 at 10:01 am (3 years ago)

    I think its completely natural to keep questioning whether we are being good mums. I was SO used to a work life before Z came along and trying to do my very best all the time that I felt a bit lost that, post Z, no one was “reviewing” me. That sounds daft doesn’t it? You do sound an awesome mum to me though (if that helps at all :))

  10. lifeasourlittlefamily
    June 25, 2014 at 10:58 am (3 years ago)

    I think we all fight with this inner demon, I hope it isn’t troubling you too much. Must from reading your blog and looking at your pictures I can see that you are a wonderful parent. It’s hard not to compare, but sadly we do. You shouldn’t. As you said our babies always progress at different rates. I completely understand about a fussy eater, Lil G has gone through this phase for 12 months, he’s coming out of this now. Hang in there honey x

  11. Claire @ Clarina's Contemplations
    June 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm (3 years ago)

    I SO get this! That persistent little voice which questions everything you do. Sometimes I think its a good thing… it challenges me to be a better parent, and makes me think about what I’m doing (i.e. the voice that tells me I’m spending too much time on social media) but a lot of the time, that voice is just out to get us, and suck the joy out of our parenting. Let’s not let that happen! Lovely to come across you blog through “Share with Me”… looking forward to getting to know you better.x

  12. kiddyreviews
    June 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm (3 years ago)

    I can totally relate to this and I only have one baby. It’s hard to not compare your baby with others, but deep down we all know we are doing our best and that little voice is just a reminder that we actually care. Well written, as always. x

  13. thenthefunbegan
    June 25, 2014 at 8:28 pm (3 years ago)

    I don’t think there is a perfect mum or perfect children – I know it doesn’t matter because we will all inevitably question what we’re doing at some point. I always feel like I’m not cut out for motherhood when I look at what others are doing to stretch their little minds, creativity, giving them structured, educational things to do. I read a bit of the bumf from the school JJ will start in September yesterday and it has a section on what you should be doing to prepare your child for school – that freaks me out a bit I just hope he doesn’t start at a disadvantage because I haven’t been getting him to practice cursive script or something… Damn inner voices!! X #sharewithme

  14. Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork
    June 26, 2014 at 8:00 pm (3 years ago)

    I do this, ever single day. I’ve done it since I took M home from the hospital and the reality of being a mother hit. And I get so, so mad at myself for it. Especially because I really didn’t expect to be like this.
    In my heart of hearts I don’t actually believe I’m a bad parent (it just feels like that SOMETIMES) – and I really hope you don’t either – but that voice won’t shut up nonetheless. To be honest, I think it’s what makes us human. When else have we had to do something 24/7 without any prior experience and without the option of a break? I get nervous whenever I have to do something new, and that’s when I’m prepared!

  15. Misplaced Brit (@Misplaced_Brit)
    June 27, 2014 at 11:11 am (3 years ago)

    I have to agree with @SarahMO3W… When you’ve had three you realize how completely different they do things, just because they’re 3 completely different individuals, with 3 completely different growth curves, habits, personalities, interests…

    I really think these feelings and voices get extra loud when we haven’t had enough sleep; are giving the kids all the fruit in the house and aren’t having such a balanced diet ourselves, not getting out and walking/exercising.

    Look after yourself sweetie! Make sure you’re children’s mama is as rested & energized as can be. Feeling good about ourselves makes a huge difference on how good we feel the job we’re doing is! <3


  16. Susanne Remic (@Ghostwritermumm)
    June 28, 2014 at 7:05 pm (3 years ago)

    We really can be our own worst enemies can’t we? You certainly ARE good enough. One look at their happy healthy faces tells me that. And the fact that you care. Wish there was some way I could ditch the guilt for you!
    x x

    • Mummy Says
      June 28, 2014 at 11:32 pm (3 years ago)

      Ah Susanne, thank you for such a lovely comment. The guilt comes in waves – I have to listen to that voice of reason that tries to knock it down! x


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