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.


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  1. 23

    Nina says

    Jill-this is a great topic. I think a subtle “How many kids do you have?” competition seems to exist. The only thing that bugs me is if I end up with more volunteer stuff at the school because I “only have 3″ while others have more. Of course, I wonder if make people with less than three feel the same . . . “You’ll see when you have more . . . ” THAT kind of thing.

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  2. 25

    Jill says

    Completely normal!!! I love how honest you are about something we all try to deny. I think it is connected to our need to give the very best to our kids in a weird, twisted way. And, it is connected to our desire to make a difference in the world–more kids, more chance of making a difference. By the way, my competitiveness about number of kids is a determination to have only two and be satisfied, even though more sounds like fun, yet I see others with 3, 4, 5 children and you are right, it is insanity! I am pretty sure my determination to keep it to two is just as crazy-making and since twins run in my family, I probably shouldn’t hold my breath. To being transparent!!!

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  3. 26

    Jana @ An Attitude Adjustment says

    You are too cool for school, lady. I wish I could see you in person–we’d get along splendidly. I have been having the same feelings. It’s so weird. Competition over how many kids you have? Yeah. Because it makes me feel like, if they can handle it, why can’t I? What’s wrong with me? Am I not adventurous enough? Strong enough? Capable enough?

    (And then I remember, I’m not dumb enough. Two is my limit. It’s good to know your own limits.)

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  4. 29

    Mairin says

    I also had kids before any of my friends, and I have to say that I do not envy ANY of my friends who are having more. In fact, I take satisfaction in knowing that soon I will be the one who gets to sleep late on weekends, take long airplane flights without wanting to kill myself (we live overseas), not spend half of my income on diapers, be able to go shopping by myself without having to time it in between breastfeeds, and actually go on vacations that involve snorkeling and hiking rather than family-friendly resorts with kids’ clubs. When this happens, I know that all of my friends who continue to have babies will be supremely jealous of ME!

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      • 31

        Darcie says

        Oh yeah-I am so looking forward to the empty nest thing. Love my kids and all, but having a 21 yr. old daughter out on her own has opened my eyes to what lies ahead. And it’s good. Very Good.

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    • 32

      Amanda says

      This is how I look at it too. While my friends will still be doing PTA, sports events, open house, etc., my kids will be on their way off to independent lives outside of my home. I like that, and then I can laugh, point, and say “Haha,” like they did to me when I was having babies and they weren’t married with children yet. My husband and I will be young enough to enjoy the years after kids, and I like it that way.

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      • 33

        Maggie says

        Same here. I had my son young. I am now the one with the teenager, while all the rest have kids under 10. I am the one sleeping in, able to go out without having to find AND pay a babysitter. I am able to negotiate “deals” with a 15 yr old…not so much with a the little ones they are dealing with!!

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  5. 34

    Lara says

    I think rather than competition on popping out kids I feel more jealous. Especially when I cruise through gloatbook, oh look, their vacation was cooler than mine. Oh look, their job is more glamorous than mine. (Never you mind, right now, my job is raising a human being, kinda a big deal) Oh look, their wedding cake was bigger than mine. I think we all shaft ourselves somehow, we all play some crazy mental game where we’re always the losers. Jealousy is mine.

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  6. 35

    myevil3yearold says

    I am VERY competitive. But, my limit is two and I know it. I have friends that are on to their 3rd and I am jealous of the whole new baby thing but then I make some smirky comment about going to get a good night’s sleep and I feel better.

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  7. 37

    Jessica Torres says

    I know exactly how you feel about your kids not looking anything like you. My youngest is the exact replica of her father. Every time I go out in public, just me and her, strangers comment that she must look like her dad since she looks nothing like me. The only person who sees any similarities between me and my kids is my mom and I personally think she is lying. As far as other people having more kids than I do, my opinion is let them. I have two kids and that is plenty for me. I don’t want any more kids and frankly I don’t understand why anyone would want more than two kids. Too much craziness for me.

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  8. 38

    Momlissa says

    You’re not crazy, at least I don’t think so. As hellacious as my life can be at times and how I think I wasn’t cut out to have 3 kids close in age, I look at the women who had 3 kids under 2 years old….and then had another in quick succession and think “Those moms are so much cooler!” lol.

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  9. 39

    maternity clothes chick says

    I have 3 kids via c-section (aged 4 1/2 and under) and run a business. But I can’t help finding myself feeling like a bit of a loser when my friend recently popped out her 4th (also via c). And she’s a high-earning estate attorney. And takes her kids to ballet. And does CRAFTS. And then even finds time to plan weekend getaways to Napa with friends sans kids.

    So in company with Supermom, sometimes I DO feel that green monster arising within me. And then at other times, I just think the bitch is showing off.

    Thanks for a venue and support to sound off, Jill. You are Scary in the very best way!

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  10. 40

    Anthony says

    Here’s my competition-ish type thing: I feel like I am the absolute best out of anyone in the world when it comes to interacting with children. I seriously am way too good at it. But when kids are giving some other person attention, I get a bit jealous. Totally ridiculous, but I guess I love kids so much I want them to be spending all their time with me and for me to be their favorite friend in all of their lives.

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  11. 41

    Monika says

    Haha – I spent a good 20 minutes ranting on Sunday about this mum at school who is pregnant with her 5th and I am sure that a not insignificant part of that was because it makes me feel like a failure just having 3!

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  12. 42

    arlete soffiatti says

    I haven´t read all the comments before mine, so probably I will sound repetitive. But there is a reason why children look like their father. We have to take into consideration that, in the past, there were no DNA tests and the only way for the father not to have any doubts about being the actual father was to have in their hands a spitting image of themselves. How can a father go against the grain if everybody around him keeps saying that the baby is a “Mini Me” of him?
    I have just had my second baby at 42 and see myself doing exactly what you mentioned. I won the game of being the oldest around to have a healthy baby but I could not win the game of having a normal delivery while a colleague was having her fourth without even having a PDA , being able to squatting some hours later and going home just after 2 days at hospital. But she is 29. See, how competitive a mother can be?

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  13. 43

    Jacq says

    You are not alone in this. We had 4 kids in 6 years, and also have two dogs . I’m completely overwhelmed 90% of the time, but when I hear of someone having 5 kids or more I do feel jealous, it’s insane! And you aren’t a loser at all, your kids are probably better off as three of them. I feel I can’t possibly give my children the attention they deserve, they are always fighting for more. I honestly don’t know how people with more than 4 manage.

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  14. 46

    From Belgium says

    At least you will understand my silent frustation about the fact that my childeren both have their fathers brown eyes and not my blue-grey ones.
    Don’t worry you will get payback with the grandchilderen, they are garanteed to look exactly like you!

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  15. 48

    shelly says

    I also feel that way. Only I started WAY late. And can barely handle one kid and a crazy child. I don’t even know if we’ll be ABLE to have more, but I look at friends and neighbors, 60% of whom are pregnant and 30% of whom are really not great parents and feel jealous. How’s that for loserdom?

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  16. 49

    Kelly says

    I am a very competitive person too, but not when it comes to kids. My hubby and I were also the first to get married..first to buy a house..first to have kids….it was hard. But now, I am sooooo glad we were ahead of the curve. Life, part II is about to begin and we are looking forward to it! :)

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  17. 50

    Krimsin says

    I have one son. That’s it ours isbeautiful super smart and pisses other friends off who started when we did and have more kids. I still have tools ask when we are having another. Uterus Closed. You have your family and will only be flipping the bill for 3 college educations. You may not have as many kids, but know your sanity limits. My?MIL says little dude like just like her son. Hairwise maybe. Hes got my olive complexion thank god, my eyes. Other than that the hubs avd i are featured simular. She just can’t get over her power as the sole childbearing person in the family was defunct by me. How bad is she, she calls him her boy. Wackadoo.

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