A Losing Battle

I don’t think of myself as an especially competitive person. I never cared about getting straight A’s in school or what team was winning which game. I couldn’t care less about keeping up with the Joneses and really don’t compare myself to other women. But, since becoming a parent, I have been finding competition in some unexpected places.

My children’s looks, for instance. As babies, Evan and Lily looked remarkably like their father. At three years old, Evan is an exact replica; their baby pictures are almost indistinguishable. While I think my kids are cute as can be, I can’t help but feel I’ve lost some sort of DNA contest. And, I’m not being facetious– every time people remark on the similarities (which is all the freaking time,) my blood boils. It’s not fair.

And then there’s the competition I feel outside of our little family. We got married early. We had our first child early. We had second around the same time our friends were having their first. Everyone thought we were insane by the time we had our third. I loved being that couple who beat everyone to the punch. It was fun being the crazy ones and paving the course for everyone else. But, lately, they are catching up. Even worse than that, they’re beating us. And, it’s beginning to piss me off.

We have all the kids we can handle. I truly think a fourth would put me over the edge into Looneyville, USA, and I don’t have any interest in residing there. But, still, I can’t help but feel jealous of those with families larger than ours. We have friends with four kids, the last of whom are twins. Friends who have four kids and two dogs. Five kids, even. It’s insane. More insane than my insanity. Suddenly, I feel like a loser, but the only one competing is me.

Jeff thinks I’m nuts and doesn’t feel this way at all. So, I’m asking you, fellow mothers: Is this normal? Anyone else feel this odd competition or is it just me?

Perhaps I should pick a sports team like the rest of the country. It’s certainly easier than continuing to pop out babies.

About the writer


In addition to being the founder of all things Scary Mommy, Jill is also the New York Times bestselling author of Simon and Schuster’s Confessions of A Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)


Brittany Leigh Tyler 2 years ago

I completely understand and can relate to this post. I am in the same boat.

marie 5 years ago

I totally want four children. I totally want four babies. What I do not want is four KIDS. I do think it would be nice when I am older to have a big group of grown children around me…and who can resist more babies? But it is the everyday grind of *kids* that keeps these feelings in check.

Randi 5 years ago

I can totally relate! My girls look like carbon freaking copies of their Dad. The oldest (mine from a previous reletionship) looks just like me, so I know I too have the ability to have one look like me, dang it! We have 5 girls, no boys and we are constantly told how crazy we are for having “so many kids”, and I secretly enjoy the “fame” that I have from it. I even have a built in fan club, lol, so what if they wipe peanut butter on my jeans and scribble on my walls, they’re mine!

Vicki 5 years ago

Holy crap! I totally feel you!
I had a baby 3ish weeks ago and I hear one more person say how he looks just like my husband I’m going to freak out! And I’m pretty sure he will be my only chance to pass on mt genes – I have 2 step kids and I think 3 is enough. Oh well…

anymommy 5 years ago

First, I loved this post and then when you said this, “I don’t know… maybe. I love babies. I would probably always want more, even if I had a million,” I loved you even more. I don’t know if I’m afraid of closing this chapter of my life, if I’ve felt more fulfilled raising small children than I have at any other time, if I’m competitive (I definitely get jealous of bigger families) or just crazy. But I so feel this.

Except for the looking like me thing, I love that my boys are perfect copies of their Dad.

Carla 5 years ago

I think everyone feels this way. My weirdest one is people with little girls. My first (and so far) only is an awesome rough and tumble little boy that I wouldn’t trade for anything … but I really wanted a little girl and I feel destined to be a mother of boys while relatives have precious daughters they don’t even bother dressing up in cute outfits – no fair! And here’s another fun one, my son looks very much like my baby pictures but everyone is always saying that he looks just like his dad – great!

Stacey 5 years ago

At the same time that I believe my kids are the spitting image of their father, I also believe that they look a heck of a lot like me. Not often, but from time to time I will catch a side of my boys and I’m like “wow they really look like me”. I get pretty agitated as well at the fact that everyone is always saying how much they look like their father. Ugh. But I know that my boys are so darn adorable so I guess it doesn’t matter that they look like dad as long as they are cutie pies. I’m sure that you see yourself in you children once in a while right?! I guess we loose the gene war but we are mommy and they can never beat us at that!

jodifur 5 years ago

I have one. Everyone beats me.

Tiaras & Tantrums 5 years ago

wow – I so feel you on this one! My kids look NOTHING like me (not a read head in the bunch! WTH? not even one with blue eyes!) But the other – being jealous – or whatever it is . . I WANTED 4 kids – I tried for 4 kids! My body failed me – HUGE FAIL! I see women with 4 or 5 kids and I seriously am jealous – like I have to walk away b/c it is not good! Plus I am a bit ticked that I can’t have 4 kids, especially when I see really mean moms with loads of kids! Just not fair

Zeemaid 5 years ago

I think there is a little competitive in all of us. I felt the same way when we were the first in my hubs family to have a baby. It totally pissed me off when BIL announced their pregnancy 4 months after us. It’s like they were waiting to steal our thunder. That’s how I felt as silly as it sounds. I also feel like I have to compete with my hubby because he’s so much more personable than me. Everyone loves him. :)

Lana | RaisedbyPoker 5 years ago

Before the crazy population explosion that led to having 6, I totally remember feeling like that. It was compounded by my ex-mormon background, where big families are very admired. I always felt like bigger families were, perhaps, more accomplished somehow.

And since 4 of my kids are part Asian, only two of them look a tiny bit like me. We have the same color eyes. I really got off on that when it happened 4 kids into the process, although nobody really notices the color of my eyes anymore…only how tired they look :-)

Annabelle 5 years ago

I am right there with you. I am having a hard time with that right this very minute. I have friends that are in the ranking above us- and I sometimes sit and go “its not fair, I have to get there.” You are def not the only one dealing with this.

Kristin T 5 years ago

Hey, just wanted to let you know that your kids will EVENTUALLY start looking like you. Babies statistically look more like their fathers during the early years (and scientists think that there is an evolutionary reason behind it). Since the mother has no doubt about the baby being hers (something coming out of you is something you don’t question), babies look more like their fathers so the father will recognize the offspring as his own and not abandon the family. Anyway, there is an article in the New York Times about it –http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/22/health/22real.html

Moral of the story: You’re not losing the genetic lottery!

    Bruna 5 years ago

    This makes a lot of sense… Very interesting – thanks for sharing! :)

      Scary Mommy 5 years ago

      That WAS interesting- thanks for sharing!

        Bruna 5 years ago

        For all *I* know – both my kids are EXACTLY like their dad, so… Guess that’s 100% accurate here, LOL! 😀

    Amira 5 years ago

    Well this is good to know… there is hope for my genes yet :-)

Holly Taylor 5 years ago

I think most women feel a pang of jealously, or question themselves and their family size when they hear of other people having babies. I’m not sure if it ever goes away even if you keep having more and more babies. Having a new baby is exciting, its a big change you plan and prep for and look forward to. Why wouldn’t we just keep on wanting to pop them out!
Lucky for me my hubby solved that problem before we even delivered the third…he knows me all to well!

Amanda 5 years ago

I completely hear you on the “your baby looks just like her father” front. I carried her, breast fed her, and nurtured her for the first three months of her life! She should look like me! How weird to feel in competition with your husband over the looks of your child! Is something wrong with me? :)

    Bruna 5 years ago

    Hehe. Exactly! The baby is *MINEEEEEE*! 😛

Erin I’m Gonna Kill Him 5 years ago

I don’t think you’re jealous. I think you’re just not fully reconciled to closing the pregnancy/baby chapter of your life. I have that, too, particularly because I still have a number of fertile years ahead but have 3 already. I’d like a 4th, but feel at capacity at the moment. The idea that this could be it makes me feel antsy even though I should just be excited to have the family I do.

Also, for me, I have trouble making decisions for myself and standing by them. I think I’d be more settled if I just couldn’t have more children as opposed to having the ability but making the decision to stop.

Amira 5 years ago

I totally feel you on losing the DNA contest. My husband is very dark east Indian and I am super pale blonde hair. I have had multiple people ask me if my kids are adopted… it sends me over the edge!

b harper 5 years ago

I rarely admit it to anyone, but I do often have that sense that someone is hot on my heels. At work, at home, in all things mother and baby. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it sometimes drives me to try just a little bit harder and there’s nothing wrong with that!

    rachel 5 years ago

    And I thought I was the only one that happened to! My 7 year old has white blonde hair (obviously I do not), and I had people INSIST that he is not mine. I mean they argued with me about it!!!

    I guess I don’t have to worry about the genes thing, since with 5 kids and 2 beloved foster kids, no body looks like anybody.

Christine 5 years ago

When I met my husband he wanted four kids, I wanted three. I told him (this is the gods honest truth), if he wanted four the last one would have to be twins. I had 4 kids in 5 years. The first two were 15 months apart, then 3 years later, a set of twins came along. He always gets his way, but, I would do it all over again, and sometimes wish all my kids were twins.

Jen @ Momalom 5 years ago

I hear you. I feel this, too. It’s taken me a while to be content with “only” three. But I do. It’s perfect for me and for our family. I have no doubts about the third. But there will, I think, always be lingering doubts about any more, even though I’m content not to have any. Looneyville USA is not for me, either!

Jack 5 years ago

I want more kids but not because of competition with any friends never occurred to me. Some of the boys have more money, bigger houses, better cars, but I don’t get caught up in that either. None of it makes me feel better or worse about myself.

I have to admit that when my oldest was born the first two things I noticed were his hands and feet. Don’t know why, but I did because they are miniature versions of mine.

His face and hair color are the same as his mother, but people say that he looks like me. My daughter’s hair and complexion are the same as my own. Don’t know if that bothers her mother or not.

They are definitely a combination of the two of us.

I grew up with four sisters so I have always imagined that I would have more than two. I could do it too, but there is something nice about knowing that diapers are long gone.

Now I just need to start saving for a Bar Mitzvah. That scares me.

Loukia 5 years ago

Oh, absolutely! You’re very normal, Jill! It seems like I’m the one in the minority with only two children! If we had more children we’d need a bigger house, and a bigger car… and I’d have to gain all that weight again… I don’t know… also, my two boys look just like their father, everyone says!


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