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Issue 5
July 23, 2004

Gunning for Gold
Women are competitve. It's a simple truth. It begins around the time of our first awareness of boys, fashion and beauty productsicon. Up to that point, we were too excited about having a doll, tutu or tricycle to worry about whose was prettier, fluffier or faster. But when that worldly awareness kicks in, up pops the ugly head of competion and from then on out, we're pretty much gunning for gold. (Pun intended. Every woman wants to show off gold e.g., some kind of jewelry, given to her from a doting husband. It's round two of competition re: husbands. Round one was to get a husband. The next is to be loved the MOST.)

I readily admit that I can be as dogged as anyone in trying to looking 'just so' for the big party and getting my house all décored just in time for supper club. But I like to think of these competitve bursts as normal female neurosis. We all do this. Right? And just as every man in America will ask, "Why does it matter?", every woman in America will echo, "It just does."

Now, I consider myself a laid-back, nonchalant type of new mom/wife. I don't freak out about germs, I don't write down the date and time of every single poop and I still haven't started a baby book. (Don't tell the grandparents.) However, it has come to my attention (via my ever-observant husband, when it comes to my cattiness) that my competitiveness has reached an all-time high. No, it has nothing to do with my usual 'measure' of choice - weight. The days of competing in goodness of body are long gone. In fact, I just don't look at mine anymore. Mirrors are no good for me now. Now, it's all about my bambino. Questions like, "How is your baby sleeping?", "How much does he eat?", and "Can he hold his head up?" cause a stirring in my belly akin to when the bureaucrat at the DMV asks me how much I weigh. It's wretched and ridiculous, I know, but I must tell you when it comes to the wee one, the talons come out.

This really bothers me, because I don't want to be a catty mom. But what self-respecting milk cow wouldn't think long and hard about her wee one's outfit for play group - even while all his/her peers don't know a saddle shoe iconfrom a saddlebag. (Thank goodness.) Anyhoo, while nursing my calf these last weeks, I've done a great deal of thinking on the matter. And what I've come up with is this: that wee one is our greatest achievement. What was all about me (how can I be the skinniest, the best dressed, the best housed), is now all about my baby (how can he/she be more perfect than he/she already is?). We don't mean to be mean. We're just raising the stakes a bit. That baby is our miracle made real, our one true thing, our joy of all joys. As such, we take great pride in what we have created, nurtured, fed and kissed-all-over-a-trillion-times. Of course, we're going to go for gold.

That said, I really don't want infect my precious prince with my evil competitiveness. That would be awful. He needs to have a stress-free childhood with no thought to his feeding schedule and developing neck strength. After all, I never worried about my tutu so long as it twirled when I spun. My son should have the same freedom (though perhaps not with tutus). Fortunately, milking offers up lots of 'free' hours for contemplation and I was able to make sense of the whole matter. You see, the reason we could twirl so freely is because our mothers were competing for us. Now it's our turn.

And so, I leave you now with these words of encouragement. Let's agree to laugh at our ridiculous plans for our tots. Let's remember that to have the best of intentions when it comes to their sleep/feed/growth schedules and that all our striving is out of love. Let's make these tots grow up to twirl - obliviously happy to their masterminding moms. And just for good measure, let's all agree never to look in full-length mirrors again.

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