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Retiring 'Mom of the Year'

Photograph by Getty Images

Moms, this is a plea and a call to action. I am begging you to consider the following: Stop referring to yourself, sarcastically, as "Mom of the Year." I've been counting, and in the last week I have heard three different mothers pick on themselves for how they feed their children, how they let their children dress, and how they dealt with tantrums at Target. Always, the story ends with a shame-filled sigh, "I'm totally not Mom of the Year."

I do it myself. When I tally the amount of sugar my kids eat over the weekend or accidentally drop an f-bomb, I indict myself by sneering, "Way to go, 'Mom of the Year.'" Sarcasm has its place, but put alongside my mothering—which already has enough shame landmines—it becomes a weapon inflicting grievous harm. I am so tired of the bombs I lob at myself, and this Mom of the Year business feels nuclear.

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And guess what? I have never heard a father do this. The father I know best, my husband, never makes these derogatory comments about his parenting. He's not perfect, but he's never once referred to himself as out of the running for "Dad of the Year." Neither has any of the other fathers I know.

I have enough on my plate without kicking myself out of an imaginary contest for Mom of the Year.

Why are we doing this, moms? Why do we even pretend there is such a thing as Mom of the Year? Because there's not. Awards are given out for jobs that are different than ours—those with benchmarks like ticket sales, new accounts or number of burgers sold worldwide. We aren't actually doing something that can be measured like that.

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While I am grateful that I have never heard anyone use it against another mother, I hear us using it against ourselves all the time. I have enough on my plate without kicking myself out of an imaginary contest for Mom of the Year that rewards only perfect mothering, whatever that is. Mistakes don't make us ineligible for the title Mom of the Year; they make us human and provide opportunities for growth and self-reflection. And that's what our children really need anyway.

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