Sanctimommies and the Mompetition Wars

Sanctimommy (sanc·ti·mom·my, noun \ˌsaŋ(k)-tə-ˈ mə-mē\):

A parent who is overly devoted, micromanaging the lives of their children, from the food they ingest to the activities they participate in.  Sanctimommies look down their noses at those who are more liberal in their parenting approach.

Mompetition (mom·pe·ti·tion, noun \ mäm-pə-ˈti-shən\):

The one-up rivalry that moms play making their child seem better, smarter, and/or more advanced than yours.  May involve two or more moms and any number of children, even full-grown.

Recently, I stumbled across an article entitled “Do We Need a Declaration for the Rights of a Baby”, but should be retitled:  “The Sanctimommy’s Manifest Destiny”.  With no disrespect to Dr. Narvaez, PhD, some of the highlights of her article include such helpful suggestions that babies NEED:

  • A natural birth, free of drugs and fetal monitors
  • Breastmilk “on demand for several years
  • Access to a “swaddle-free” environment
  • To be embedded with the activities of the family 24 hours a day

However, similar to the “Communist Manifesto” there are the Bourgeois (“them”) and Proletarians (“us”).  What is it about those Sanctimommies who believe that there is a “one-size fits all” approach to child rearing, what they think is best and therefore they are at the top of the Mompetition pecking order??  I’ve come to believe that these women have a rule for a child’s every behavior in every situation.  Sanctimommies needs constant validation and they will, by God, get it from us.  Our parenting choices serve as the perfect fodder for Sanctimommies since she can then criticize them and us.  Dr. Amy Tuteur summarized it best when she noticed that:

My personal observation on the behavior of Sanctimommies in their natural habitat is that they tend to suffer from overwhelmingly from ostentatious ‘sadness’.  They are so ‘sad’ for you that you don't do everything their way.  They are so ‘sad’ for your children that you are not parenting the way they prescribe.  They are just so ‘sad’ that everyone in the world does not recognize their incredible superiority and their expert status on every aspect of parenting at every age.

I recently found myself in a virtual bitchslap on Facebook as I stumbled upon a thread of women who were in a heated Mompetition battle.  The topic of conversation was the “expiration” of car seats.  One mom had experienced a verbal lashing while taking her newborn home from the hospital because her car seat had “expired”, and the other women where informing her that: Oh God Yes!  Car Seats Expire!! You Didn’t KNOW this??  Do you KNOW what the heat of the sun will DO to a car seat??  The heat can cause microscopic fractures in the plastic that compromise the integrity of the seat in an accident.  IMMEDIATELY call your Pediatrician/nearest police station/fire department/hospital/Legal Aid to get yours checked out!!  (Note:  those were all actual quotes, ideas and suggestions taken from the thread).  As if we don’t have enough to worry about.  I still have the boy’s Britax Marathon which I seemed to remember he used from about the age of 7 months until just before his 4th birthday.  So I looked all over that damn thing for anything remotely resembling an “expiration date” and guess what, I couldn’t find it.  So I felt the need to butt into the conversation in defense of this mother:

I am not a lawyer, a police officer nor a journalist. However, I am a single mommy to a four-year old. To the best of my recollection, I can't recall a single incident where a parent was in any way, shape or form ‘punished’ for having an ‘expired’ car seat.  What does that even mean??  Using your best judgment, does your car seat in particular raise your child to a physical height at which the seatbelt would be even somewhat effective??  Did you, in good conscience, purchase that car seat from a reputable retailer with the intent of protecting your child??  Do you drive, on a daily basis, while abiding by the rules and regulations of the road, with common and decent courtesy, respect, and due attention while your child is in the car??  If you answered ‘yes’ to the above questions, then, my dear mommies, PLEASE sleep well tonight.  For at the end of the day, not a single one of us straps our child into the car thinking ‘I'm just going to take a chance on this old car seat that I picked up from the dump wedged between the front and back seats of that sandwiched Pinto’.  Our children will be OK!! We all grew up in a time when we rode around in the bed of our granddaddy’s pickup truck (even on the edge!), drank water directly from the garden hose, didn't return home ‘until the street lights came on’, were put to sleep on our tummies and some of our mommies probably smoked while they were pregnant with us because their DOCTOR’S told them that is wasn’t healthy to gain more than 20 pounds.  WE ARE FUCKING FINE!!  Do knowledge, wisdom, and technology change?  Of course they do.  But common sense remains the same.  We are strong, educated women and, most importantly, we have happy and healthy children.  What is NOT healthy, amongst us mommies, is the constant worrying and judging that takes place.  At the end of the day, we should be concerned with: childhood cancer, stranger abductions, the overall economy and other things we just can't control.  But right now, know in all of your hearts, that we are great mommies, and just because some random lawyer in some unknown state working for some unremarkable Federal agency set some arbitrary date which ‘determined’ that your child's car seat was ‘expired’ doesn't mean AT ALL that we should spend one more precious second of energy, money and/or time worrying about this.  Instead, go play with your kids; make mud pies with worms knowing that when we ate them, the worms did not live in us forever.

Well, . . . that post went over like a ton of lead bricks in what appeared to be a Sanctimommies online brain trust advisory group.  The only direct response I got was from one Sanctimommy who helpfully pointed out that “Actually child abductions have not risen. They have remained flat for the last 100 years that they've been tracked. Your kids are not any more likely to be kidnapped than you were or your parents were, etc.”  Ummmm, thanks for the tip??  I’ll be sure to keep that in mind while I now let my child run completely unsupervised through the nearest Target, since “stranger danger” is apparently no longer a concern.  But thanks for making a post that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand.

So if we really want to discuss the “Mompetition Wars”, guess what?  I’m declaring myself the winner.  I don’t spend my days verbally lashing, judging and berating other women for their “bad” choices that make me feel “sad”.  I feed my kid Goldfish.  A lot.  I did breastfeed, but only made it six months.  Why? Because I gave birth to a > 8 pound baby who ate ALL THE FUCKING TIME and, on top of that, I only had one milk-producing boob.  Seriously.  So hand those little buggers a bottle, stick a paci in their little mouths and plop them in front of the TV so you can take a GODAMN SHOWER!  Good for you!  And when the little suckers have finally gone the fuck to sleep, invite Stacy and me over for a bottle of wine.

© Two too smart, smartass mommies 2011