Rank and Vile
“How old is your baby?”
After a brief thoughtful pause, she replied, “2 months.”
“Oh! We have a ten-week-old at home,” I said, feeling proud that I was actually mingling at a neighborhood gathering with a complete stranger. Usually, I just hang with Husband by the wine, and we whisper sarcastic jokes to one another all night. It’s a defense mechanism.
“Well, this is my second baby, and I don’t have time to calculate his age in weeks. I did that as a first-time mother, but now, well, I just use months. This must be your first baby?”
I love it when people you don’t even know make a blatant statement about you to your face, yet try to soften it by making it sound like a question.
“Uh. Actually, no, this would be my second. Our first child is 19 months old.”
“Oh.” Her eyes grew wide as she calculated my children’s age difference. Then she let out another “Oh,” but this one was more alarmed sounding.
“How old is your other child?” I asked.
“Uh, he’s, uh, 2 ½,” she stammered.
And, so the table was now turned. This mother assumed she out-ranked me because she was no longer a lowly first-time-novice-mother – as I surely was – but an expert-mother-of-two. However, because I actually have two children and they’re much closer in age than hers, I actually outranked her.
Welcome to the wonderful world of petty competitive mothers.
In this world lies an unspoken ranking system. All mothers of multiple children automatically rank higher than mothers of only children. The more children a mother has, the higher her rank on the mommy-hierarchy – so a mother of three ranks higher than a mother of two. But if her three children are really close together in age, less than two years apart, then she ranks higher than say a mother of four whose children are only three years apart.
Are you writing this down? I hope so, because I’m sure you’ll be tested on this at your own neighborhood gatherings.