Mom Overachievers

I don’t want to compete with other mothers. Really.



Motherhood isn’t a competition. It may be a weird, surprising, twisted and hopefully joyful journey, but certainly not a contest.


However the antics of some mothers make me feel like I’m falling down on the job. It’s as though they’ve commandeered the definition of what constitutes being a “good mom” and radically overhauled it without consulting me. I just can’t keep up. I’m not sure why some of the things parents are doing these days bug me so much, but I concur with blogger Jen Singer when she says to over-achiever moms: Knock it off, will ya? You’re making things impossible for the rest of us mothers with our feet of clay.


It started the other day when I was reading the New York Times and spotted a front page article about middle school girls whose mothers shell out hard-earned cash to bling-up their daughters’ school lockers. I’m not talking about the garden variety stuff I bought for my middle schoolers like a plain magnetic pen holder, mirror and utilitarian foldable stand. (Even though buying those items felt like a splurge to me.)


The mothers in this New York Times story bought - hold onto your coffee mugs - shag carpeting, wallpaper, decorative flowers, motion-sensor lights and (I still can’t even believe this is a real thing) locker chandeliers among other decorative items.


Locker. Chandeliers.


“If middle school had an emblem, it would be the locker, the first taste of privacy at school at a moment in life when that means a lot,” Elissa Gootman wrote in the Times. “At the same time, lockers are public, visible to anyone walking down the hallway, and therefore an ideal platform to convey one’s image. After all, your bedroom may be worthy of the PBteen catalog, but if the popular girls never see it, they will never know.”


Because apparently it’s important for mothers to stoke the flames of tween and teen competition, reinforce the notion that a locker reflects a student’s personality (an unadorned locker full of books = smart?) and promote parental over-involvement with a girl’s “first taste of privacy” by wasting money on something as insipid as locker chandeliers. Did I somehow miss the news story about the scourge of dimly lit school hallways and lockers that damage students’ vision thereby necessitating locker chandeliers?



Then one of my writer pals, Kristin Brandt, blogged about another parental “trend,” that of wildly over-the-top, motivational, sparkly, educational lunchbox notes that mothers are apparently writing, and the businesses that have sprung up to meet this so-called “need.” (World hunger = a need. Motivational lunchbox notes . . . not so much.)



Ever since I was in college, witnessing the various boyfriends' mothers hovering at the dinner table asking if anyone wanted more peas, while we were in the middle of an interesting political discussion (or whatever) I vowed that I would be a mother that my kids found intersting because I had a LIFE! I have a sense of humor, I have ideas, thoughts, and the world does NOT revolve around doing senseless acts of kindness for my children. What I do DO, is talk to them, empathize with them, be funny for them. I can't even make a lunch, let alone write a note. What some of these mothers will not know until it's too late is that once their children leave the nest and are busy with their own lives, mothers will have to rely a lot on upon their children thinking they're interesting PEOPLE to continue to get their children's attention. But PS - suddenly super guilty about the lunchbox note business. I can't wait to feel guilty about not making my children popular by their lack of locker decor.


I have to admit a locker chandelier and pink shag rug are very attractive to the girly-girl in me... But my practical side would no doubt say no to frivolous $25+ decorations. Have never written a single lunchbox note to my kids...I'm a slacker. Hope I'm not scarring them for life...... ;-)