We all hate competitive mums, don’t we? I posted about them at gymnastics a while back (Competitive mums and their offspring) and today I read a fab post by Molly on In The Powder Room. It’s a topic that parents are usually quite decided about and in my comments to Molly, I advised her that it only gets worse. What starts as mild envy that so and so’s baby can sleep through the night or go down awake etc, turns into full blown jealousy that so and so’s precious offspring then goes on to achieve all A* in her A-Levels and will marry into aristocracy, ensuring her parents live the life of Riley… or something like that.
In essence, pushy/ competitive mums are so hated because we can all pretty much relate to them. You may not want to admit it but you secretly want your child to be the best at reading/ writing/ football. You want your reproduced genes to be up to something, dammit! It’s only natural. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a trait you deplore in yourself.
There is a mum at gymnastics who sits on the bench and never takes her eye off her daughter for the whole lesson. Nothing wrong with that. After all we’re there to spectate, so let’s spectate! But she doesn’t just sit there. She’s like a female Fergie (probably liable to a bit of hair-dryer treatment after class too). She seethes each time her (four year old) daughter wobbles whilst kartwheeling. She thumps her own legs in frustration when roly-polys aren’t forthcoming and she grips the sides of the bench when straddle position looks like her daughter needs the loo.
It’s not long before the hissing begins. Then comes the forced whispers, loud enough to sink ships. Then she gets up and prowls the mats, barking instructions and offering advice to her daughter. Her daughter laughs and carries on being four, thankfully.
Today, I found myself sitting beside this woman and we began to chat. Her story has actually made me think about pushy mums and their reasons for being so. This woman was a semi-professional gymnast at the age of fourteen. She had been handpicked for the British team. Then she injured her knee and was unable to practise for two months. When she recovered, she was told that she should not take up her beloved gymnastics again, otherwise she could end up crippled for life, or something to that effect. She ignored advice- she was fourteen!- and ended up on crutches for eighteen months. Suffice to say, she now lives out her gymnastic dreams through her four year old daughter.
Who can really blame her? Yes, being pushy is annoying but she has a personal reason why she wants her daughter to do well. Also, we can judge her all we like for trying to live her life through her daughter, but isn’t that what we all do, to some extent? We want our children to do the best, be the best, try their best. Some of us sit on our hands, some of us use them to gesture rudely. Whatever way we do it, we want our children to do well. Admit it. You do too.