Mom vs. Mom: Something to Prove

Have any of you other moms noticed there seems to be this subtle mom vs. mom thing that happens between us? To me, there is this way that moms sometimes interact with moms they don’t know. Take for example my experience from just last week.

I was at the grocery store having a kid-free shopping experience. My-oh-my how different that is than the experience of shopping with children in tow. That is probably another post for another time, but ah, the freedom.

Anyways, back to my story. I noticed another mom in the store with a baby in his/her car seat that appeared much younger than my soon-to-be six month old. She was quietly pushing the cart with the baby through the store, piling all of her groceries to the point it was almost overflowing. I noticed how calm she was, and how her experience seemed rather peaceful.

She happened to get in line behind me as I was finishing checking out. Any of you moms that have shopped with children in tow know how quick you just want to be done at the store. I very pleasantly offered to help this woman unload her groceries onto the belt. She politely declined my offer. I then offered the fact that I was a mother of two also, and that I understood how hard it can be at the store sometimes. She declined my offer again, stating that she also had a four-year old at home.

It felt to me as if she needed me to know this was not her first go-round and that she had it under control (I also understand this entire experience could be me projecting how I personally feel when offered help). I smiled as we finished our quick exchange and left the store.

As I drove home, I started to think about how moms can interact with one another at times; almost as if we have something to prove to one another. I found myself wondering if maybe her accepting my help would have meant she had to admit defeat or something.

And then I wondered how many times I have done the exact same thing. I know for a fact, in a moment when a stranger has offered to help me to make my life a little easier, that I too have politely declined. I too have felt like I didn’t want that person to think I was weak, or that I couldn’t handle the task, and my kids, at the same time.

Honestly though, why? Why is it such a negative thing to need help sometimes? Why does accepting help mean that we are being defeated, aren’t good enough or a strong enough mom? I know I sometimes interact in  a way that makes it look like I have it all together.

Truth be told though, I only probably have it together some of the time. It’s hard as shit being a mom and juggling multiple children and the multiple demands they each set on you. Every day with my children is hard in one way or another.

That experience really helped me look at myself as a parent, and remember that it is okay to accept the kind help of someone else if it can just help me breathe a little bit easier in the moment.

To the lady in the grocery store: If you really did have your act together, good for you. You did appear calm and collected and it was no surprise that you have an older child at home. But, if maybe you were completely overwhelmed but didn’t want to accept help, just accept it next time. We all need support now and again. I know I do.


5 thoughts on “Mom vs. Mom: Something to Prove

  1. I love this Wilder. I think you’re on to something with this: “I found myself wondering if maybe her accepting my help would have meant she had to admit defeat or something.” I think that women, and moms especially, feel like we have to always be perfect or we don’t measure up (thanks society). It would be lovely if we could all accept help a little easier (myself included).


  2. I have a seven month old and accepted help from a stranger for the first time yesterday at Panera. A woman offered to hold my son so I could wash my hands after changing his diaper. It DID help. But I honestly thought twice before accepting the help! (Partly because of a fear of child abduction, which I know in most situations is ridiculous).


  3. I’m glad I am not alone Colleen. I also hate that I do that. Honestly we have nothing to prove, right? Our kids are loved and taken care of. Accepting help is a great thing!


  4. I really liked this and relate on so many levels. Moms can be so defensive when it even appears that they need help. I have a lot of pride and I hate asking for help. Sometimes when people offer I take it as a personal affront. I hate that about myself. It makes me feel better that other moms feel the same struggle. Maybe I’ll practice saying “help” a little more…how much easier could life get?


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