I had a disconcerting encounter with another mum recently which led me to believe that Mum-upmanship – the concept of verbally getting ‘one over’ on another mum - is alive and, well, ready to suck the lifeblood out of you, if you let it.
I was an interviewee. She was an interviewer.
The job involved writing a weekly blog for her start-up business.
Five minutes in we establish we both have toddler girls.
Six minutes in, I say this is a good role for me as it will allow me to spend time with my two-year old.
Six and half minutes in, she says she also works part-time to spend time at home with her daughter.
And she has a Nanny.
Eight minutes in, and on the subject of social media, I say I have just joined Twitter and have a paltry 100 followers.
Eight minutes and 31 seconds in, she says she has 4,000 followers and ‘didn’t have to do anything to get them.’
Nine minutes in, a frosty handshake, and I am ejected from my interview with Business Mumm-ra.
You may have noticed the phenomena of mum-upmanship when you fell pregnant. Whether it was a friend, a neighbour, a colleague, or even your own mum (you never know), someone you know always chirrups that, they too, are pregnant.
Although your only common bond may have been to conceive at the same time, (that power cut was long though) you suddenly find yourself paired with your very own Bump Buddy (BB).
Hurrah, you might think. Someone to share the same milestones: morning vomittyness and scan dates.
Someone to share the same questions: “When are you due?”,“Do you know whether it is a boy or a girl?”, “Is X (insert father’s name here) excited?”.
Someone to endure the same well-meaning comments: “Oh, you’ve a tiny bump, you need to feed that baby up”, or as my other half said:
“Blimey, are you eating for two, or three, Cakey Price?”.
Of course, your relationship with your BB maybe a nine month giggle-a-thon but, as one mum-to-be, whose cousin was expecting at the same time, put it: “I felt as though I had entered a two woman pregnancy competition.”
Before you know it, mum-upmanship can start to creep in to all kinds of foetal focused matters.
From whether you are planning to do NCT or NHS classes, which vitamins you are or aren’t taking, whether you use bio-oil or organic, knitted-from-the-fur-of-baby-bees stretch mark cream, whether you plan to breastfeed, what kind of birth you want, through to, whether you are reading French to your unborn child through your womb wall.
Sadly, pregnancy is just the nucleus of mum-upmanship.
When junior arrives, there is a whole smorgasbord of scores to settle.
For example - if you wanted to - whether you are able to breastfeed, whether your little one is hitting their mental and physical developmental milestones, which pre-school you want them to attend, what you put in their sandwiches etc.
I am only two years in, but as I overheard two Nannas in a lift frothing over their children’s successes this morning, I am pretty sure that this mum-upmanship thing is going to run and run.
What’s your experience of mum-upmanship? How do you deal with a Mumm-ra?