The One Upper Mom…

23 Jan

We’ve all been there. Standing in formation at the park or outside the gates to pick up our children and a mom with a new baby appears. General, sometimes feigned interest ensues with the usual questions: how old, how big, how long, etc. And she will inevitably have a story. That’s great. We all have our story, but something happens with women in groups when they talk about the birth of their children. As we all listen to the summed up birthing experience that everyone begins to share, an unspoken tension arises, a flurry begins of fragmented sentences; C-Sections, tearing, epidural, weight, postpartum, shingles, migraines, bed-ridden, giant baby and then the one-upper…the one woman, who has clearly had it the worst. She was not only bed-ridden for most of her pregnancy, riddled with debilitating migraines while caring for her three older children while her husband was over seas fighting for our country, but the baby was stuck after 17 hours of labor when an emergency C-Section was done to remove her 11 pound super baby and ALL of this was done NATURALLY.

Trumped. We are all quieted after a polite, resounding, “wow”.

We casually show we care, make the appropriate acknowledgment of her tribulation and are quiet to think about our own stories.

Why do we do that? Why as women, do we feel we need to share the difficult part of our births? Even the women that are like, “yeah, I sneezed and there she was! (giggle, snort, what?)” is requiring SOMETHING, right? I consider myself a normally confident woman. I don’t seek out attention or play Martyr too often ( I AM a mother after all), but I do need a normal, healthy dose of affirmation from my peers, I mean, I’m not a total asshole.

But, WHY do we need them to be heard?

Women, as matriarchs, since the beginning of time are not only keepers of the home, but are known as the quiet force behind the strength of the family. Whether the home be a five-bedroom, two story track house or a cave, our jobs were to manage the family and support the provider. And even though, times are very different, there is still an underlining theme (not for all, but for most, don’t yell at me) of women, staying behind to care for the children as the men go out and fight for our survival.

Then there’s giving birth. I understand there is a handful of women that think birth is magical, beautiful experience and I don’t totally disagree, but C’mon! Giving birth is a plight of survival. An internal ball of fire is lit in even the most complacent of women and a fighter emerges and we want everyone to know about it. We want everyone to go, “Wow. That’s amazing!” Because that means, WE are amazing. And even though, we are supposed to know that and there’s all these women going around, saying it, because it’s liberating, like when you’re friend tells you not to go out with someone who doesn’t think you’re amazing, you do anyway, because, no matter how many times, we say it to ourselves, we are just not. so. sure.

And giving birth, even if you cry the whole time, beg for it to stop and would smoke peyote if someone offered it to you, is amazing. You ARE amazing.

And NOW there are levels of amazing. I mean, is the mom that had the 11 pound baby MORE amazing than you and your 7 pound baby or did she eat more dairy or just have a bigger vagina?

I do it too. I’m not exempt from this. My story is fairly harrowing and I WANT to tell it and I WANT it to be heard, but why? Does it make me better? Stronger? More interesting? Or do I just want to tell MY story?

Strength is relative. And instead of worrying about it so much, I just listen to everyone else and try to just show kindness and give to them, what I think we are all seeking in any form and in any way we can find it; To be respected and admired as mothers and as women. Because we all know that as moms, those things can be taken for granted and some days, be lost all together.

So, we need to turn to the other women in our lives and show them this, so that we can receive it as well.

But I still think that the woman that delivered her own baby in the snow is a Goddess.

2 Responses to “The One Upper Mom…”

  1. comiab January 23, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    Good article Jess! 🙂

  2. Emma September 10, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    I just read your article and found it really interesting. Personally I think the reason women want to share their birth stories is because for most of us it is the MOST profound moments of our lives – even more so than falling in love with our husbands / partners or getting the job of our dreams etc. for most women it is not only the most intense physical experience they have ever undergone, but also the most emotional. For me – when I had my first child – I felt like something cracked and changed. I was no longer the same person, but I had no words to explain what had changed, but I knew for sure that if someone tried to hurt my child that there is nothing I would do to take them down. Stories of mothers with terminally ill children make me weep (whereas before I would feel a ‘bit sad’). There is a real rawness that emerges after we have children and the whole birth/delivery thing is the bridge that ties who we are now with who we once were….

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