I watched as each woman gracefully walked to her place on the stage. Each one a picture of poise and beauty. Their Runway strut and pivot turns were  “America’s Top Model” perfect.

They were all:
• Beautiful
• Intelligent
• Resourceful
• Unique
• Dedicated
• Incredible

And, vying for the same crown. The competition was fierce. It was game on. I eyed the crown, for inspiration, before I went to take my place along side them. The glitter and prestige made me gag on my insecurity.  Nausea be darned: “I want that crown.” I thought. I strode across the stage.

The music slowed, then quieted. The announcer made her way across the stage to ask the “crowning” question of each contestant. I worked to listen to their answers and reconsider my own well-practiced one, while trying to simultaneously size the other contestants’ answers up.

Each one gave it her best. (This was a serious contest.)

Each answer was more difficult than the next.

I started to feel small. Smaller. Smallest. I don’t mean in dress size. I wondered if my answer would seem petty. I wondered if I should be on the stage with these women, at all. I wondered if I could sneak out, without being noticed.

I wondered which of them would win the crown. It wasn’t going to be me.

What was the question?

“What’s the hardest type of mom to be?”

Not exactly the type of question you were expecting in a pageant?

Well, I admit it. I lied. There was no pageant. I’ve never even been to a formal gowns, bathing suits and brutal stage lighting pageant. Please, being in one? That would be my nightmare.. Especially after 3 kids and more years than I care to count. Let’s just say, the bathing suit thing gives me hives- which might camouflage my stretch-marks, but won’t win me a crown.

I have, however, competed for the Mommy Martyrdom Crown. Several times. Whether it’s a question that’s actually been posed to a group- or one that’s implied, it’s one I’ve competed to answer.

Have you competed for the same crown? It’s a one-up-momship. A “my life is hard than your’s–so- you- should- not complain”  contest.

The thing is, no one wins.

After a winner is crowned, the rest of the contestants line up to congratulate her: “I don’t know how you do it.” “I could never do that” We offer them as blessings, but the words become walls. Miss congeniality ends up feeling “less than.” And the winner? She feels…… “more than.”

The Crowned Martyr-Mom has convinced herself (and others) how awful her life is, while at the same time convincing the others how petty their struggles are. She’s got skillz. We all do. Because we all know how to play the game.

We just don’t know how to win- because – everyone loses. We disconnect because we can’t be authentic with each other.  We’re too busy either trying to top each other or feeling guilty about feeling frustrated by “our little issues.”  In the end- intimacy is lost. Intimacy is way more valuable than a tinsel crown.

The Martyr -Mom  is miserable. So are the rest of us.

What if we stopped competing? What would it look like if we could learn to hear and understand the struggles of others without comparing our own? What if we set aside the Martyr-Mom crown for the crown of friendship?

What if we learned to respect each other’s challenges?

We are all:

  • Beautiful
  • Intelligent
  • Resourceful
  • Unique
  • Dedicated
  • Incredible

We’re also all:

  • Living with challenges
  • Imperfect
  • Frustrated
  • Overwhelmed
  • Grieved
  • Perplexed

At any moment in time- we could each win that crown. But, we could have so much more than that.

  • We could learn the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • We could grow in compassion
  • We could learn from the struggles of others- before they become ours. (Trust me, it happens.)
  • We could find out we’re not alone.
  • We could find help and hope in the stories of others.

How can we stop the pageant? Maybe, we just need to leave the stage. Together.

I quit. I quit comparing. I want to listen and love. I want to build intimacy not compete for martyrdom.

How ’bout you?