Navigating Competitive Motherhood Is A Job Unto Itself

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Back in June I had my first baby, which, as it should be,
was a very happy occasion. The boy was healthy, large and loved to sleep in
long stretches. Having a summer baby was a fantastic turn of luck as well,
since I was able to spend my afternoons in Madison Square
Park. It was during these visits
I started to grasp the complicated terrain of Manhattan Motherhood, and how I wished someone had written a guide about what to expect when breeding in New York City.

In Madison
Square Park,
the lines of delineation were clear: the nannies, the high school equivalent of
the Bad Girls, hung out around the playground in clumps, gabbing on cell phones
and ignoring their charges. The Stay At Home Moms, Manhattan’s version of the popular girls,
with their cushy lifestyle of avoiding the daily rat race, were spread out on
blankets on the lawn, celebrating leisurely motherhood (and lunch from Whole Foods.)

Like a new girl at school, I parked myself on a bench with a
novel, preferring not to talk to anyone. While many I know jam up their day
with mommy meet ups and classes for their infants, I’ve taken early motherhood
in stride and cherished the time alone. Like most women, I worked up until my
son arrived, literally answering e-mails while I waited for the Pitocin drip to
kick in (I was induced. I got tired of waiting). Time away from the daily
grind was a gift, and one that I needed.

Navigating the world of Motherhood in Manhattan, though, has proven to be a job in
itself. The key in Manhattan,
and, to an extent, anywhere, is that you can’t question anyone’s choice about
anything, or risk being considered utterly rude and insensitive. Like, spitting
on a corpse rude. I’m not allowed to say that I think that baby nurses are a waste
of money when you only have one kid, that I don’t trust nannies, and that
C-sections are my preferred mode of delivering a baby. There’s no shame in
being too posh to push. After all, no one is waiting at the end of a delivery
with a medal if you choose not to use the drugs. More important: No one cares.

Which isn’t fair.  If the Lactation Crazies can run around declaring BREAST IS BEST!!!!!!! and admonish
those who use formula, then why can’t I say that it’s thanks to formula that I can
sleep at night and therefore divide childcare duties? That  when your kid comes out already ten pounds, as
my son was, producing enough milk to adequately feed him may have involved
defying a few laws of physics. And not for nothing, many of those Lactation
Crazies were probably formula babies as well, so it’s unclear where their
zealousness is rooted.

There are plenty of theories as to why women become so
competitive with kids. There’s the obvious one that the overachieving women
of New York City
like to transfer their competitiveness into every area of their life. After all,
if they were awesome enough to land a high paying position, why shouldn’t they
seek alpha when raising their children? I like the flip side of the coin, that
some of these Momzillas never actually succeeded in any other aspect of their
life, and so they’re giving child rearing a go.

I’m aware that I’m only in the first chapter of  Motherhood Madness. This will all soon lead to
Competitive Preschooling, which segues into the Need to be Labeled Gifted and
Talented and eventually turns into the Race To The Ivy League. And all of it is
rooted in insecurity. The way I see it, deep down people fear most that their
kid will be average. At least if there’s a condition, no matter how small, they
can treat or manage it or salve it with a pill. Thus far researchers have found
no cure for mediocrity. Or Lactation Crazies.