One of my children is very competitive. When I remark on it to my friends they usually laugh and say “I wonder where she got that from?”. I don’t actually agree with them that I am a competitive person, but growing up I admit I was a highly competitive individual. Everything was a competition and I had to be the winner. It was irrelevant whether anyone else was aware of the competition, it was enough that I was.
Looking back I can smile at my winnings. I was the best climber on the road (beating all boys and girls). I was the best runner and jumper. I was the best at tennis and football, hide and seek and chasing. Who knows if in reality I was any of these things, to my mind I was the best
Something I am perhaps less proud of was my role as “best fighter”. I was about ten the year I declared myself “unbeatable”. Unbeknownst to my mother the doorbell would ring and some young boy would be standing there. He would say, without any niceties, “I claim you”. Roughly translated this meant, “I challenge you to a fight”. Innocently I would go into the kitchen and tell my mom I was going out for a few minutes. Then off we’d go to the green and a fight would begin. Most of the time no one witnessed our bout but as a rule they didn’t last too long. I’d get an ” I give in” out of my opponent and then off home I’d go. As I think back on it now, I cringe and imagine what I would think if I discovered my daughter was doing this today!
As the years passed I became involved in competitive swimming which allowed me to channel a lot of this determination into a different more mainstream direction. Even though I was quite small and slight for a swimmer, my opinion of myself matched the physique of all my fellow competitor.
I was not without some interest from the opposite sex despite my less than ladylike ways, but at the age of nineteen I met “the one”.
Now I am embarrassed to say I changed when I met him. Instead of being the cocky individual who thought “never run after a man or a bus, there’s always another coming” I chased him, big time. My competitive spirit came to the fore and for the first of many times it stood to me, because nothing or no one was going to come between me and him. Even though he was less enthusiastic I knew he was “the one”, so in the end he hadn’t a chance. You guessed it, I won!
Then we had our first child and yet again all changed. There is no adequate word to describe how protective a mother is of her children, nor to describe how difficult parenting is. I have discovered over the years that my competitive spirit has helped me so much to survive motherhood.
For starters I would not be beaten when I found breast feeding difficult.I stuck with it and despite all sorts of complications and difficulties, I fed my four little ones for many months. I also had the stamina to get through all those years of sleep deprivation. If you add the years my four children did not know how to sleep, I believe I had almost no sleep for about twelve years. Because I couldn’t let my fitness die, I was fit enough to run after the many little legs that ran in every direction when let loose. Now my children are older I can see how my competitive edge helped push me over the line.
But the biggest advantage of being competitive was when my children became teenagers.
It was then I could tap into my “I will not be beaten” personality. I had the energy and drive to fight my corner longer than my teens could. I was no push over and I would not give in. I liked to stay awake to ensure they came home at a reasonable hour (and to ensure they didn’t have too good a night, where alcohol was concerned!), regardless of how late they were.
As a mother, my winning ways have helped enormously. I have the best sense of smell, essential for all parents of teenagers, and I also have the best hearing, no door can be opened that I do not hear. I have the best intuition and I am brilliant at knowing when someone is lying.
Lastly my competitiveness has meant that I am the greatest supporter of my children. No matter what they do I will be there for them, fighting in their corner with everything I’ve got. No one will ever beat me on that.
So the next person who tells me I’m very competitive will be met with a smile from me and a thank you. Because I have learned that when you are a mother, being competitive is no disadvantage!