My Very Dull Competitive Edge

This morning I was doing breakfast dishes while my four-year-old was agitating for me to quit my task and read him I Drive a Bulldozer yet again.

“Mom, I don’t like you when you’re busy, but I like you when you’re not busy.”

“Oh, yeah?” I said, not turning around from the soapy water.

“Yes. Because I love love from Mommy.”

“And I love love from you, Sweet Pea.”

And of course I kept doing the dishes and of course I felt awful because this was not the first time this morning that I’d put off my kid, it was just the first time I’d put him off when I wasn’t at the computer.

A month or so ago, I started posting for the weekly Remember the Time Blog Hop and then quickly added the yeah write weekly writing challenge. The yeah write challenge involves not only writing a blog post which follows their guidelines and represents my best work, but also reading  about 30 blog posts every week, analyzing them for adherence to the yeah write guidelines, and then voting for the five that I think adhere best and most artfully to these guidelines. On top of both of these blog events, I decided to do BlogHer’s National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) for November.

I figured NaBloPoMo wouldn’t be too much of a challenge. Between the writing challenge and the blog hop and WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge and my book reviews, I was already posting most every day anyway. And I’d completed the Post-a-Day Challenge back in 2011, posting every single day through my spouse’s layoff and job search, our cross-country move, our six weeks living in a hotel, and our introduction to New England, which included a hurricane and a freak October snow storm that knocked out the electricity for a week. I think I missed maybe two days out of 365 that year. Thirty days of posting would be a cinch.

For some reason, though, it has not been a cinch, and I spend a lot of time sitting at my computer  (or standing, if I have my laptop on the kitchen counter so I can blog while I’m supposed to be cooking dinner, like I’m doing now) with my son begging for my attention. Add to this all of the other times he has to beg for my attention—like when I’m doing household chores or doing homeschool with his sister or sleeping—and the poor kid spends a huge amount of time talking to my back.

I don’t think I need to spend every moment paying attention to my kids, but it’s starting to seem like the only attention I give them anymore they have to share with the internet. And that doesn’t feel awesome.

So, something has to give and since we need clean dishes, I think it’s got to be the yeah write weekly writing challenge. Because that’s not been feeling awesome to me, either. I’d hoped it would be a pleasant writing community for me, but it feels like the regulars there have a nice community going, and just like when I go to a party in real life, I feel like I’m  standing on the outskirts of an animated conversation, never really knowing how to break in. Occasionally people pat my shoulder on their way to the bathroom and say, “Awesome party, isn’t it?” and I smile and say, “Yeah! It’s great!” as they walk away. I’m just not good at parties.

Another reason this particular party’s not awesome is that don’t do well with competition. I took one class with my future spouse when we were in college. It was Calculus II. I’d taken both Calc I and Calc II in high school, but didn’t have the money to take the AP exams so I didn’t place out of them for college. I took them again in college because my being an English major wasn’t a done-deal freshman year, and I wanted to keep the possibility of a scientific major open. So, I took Calc I and got an A, and then I took Calc II with my future spouse making wagers with me on every test, and I got a C.

Same thing happens in sports. If I play racquetball and have a third-party keep score and not tell me how I’m doing, I do better than when I know the score. I could probably blame this on societal programming intended to keep me as the female from out-competing my male counterparts, but I tend to think it’s just my own anxiety. I get in a competitive situation and the adrenaline and cortisol flood my brain, and it shuts off.

And even though I know this is going to happen, and I know that it doesn’t have any bearing on my worth as a human being, my thoughts go full-on existential the moment I’m not in the winners circle. Not that I’m often in the winners circle.

My spouse thinks that maybe if I compete long enough I’ll stop getting so anxious about it, and I can break the cycle, but that’s probably because he does not have this problem and so he’s kind of jerk for thinking he has the answer to my problem. (Okay, so my spouse isn’t a jerk. He’s just solutions-oriented, which just seems jerky when the solution he offers doesn’t match the problem.)

I think the solution is avoidance. It’s worked for me so far. The first time I had a post make Freshly Pressed, I didn’t even know what Freshly Pressed was. Sticking my head in the sand and avoiding direct competition worked for me then. Not that the post was great writing, because it wasn’t. It was just a great title on a recipe post. But I got featured without trying to be, and that seems to be the key for me.

They say you’re more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife than with a sharp one, and with as dull as my competitive edge is, it’s probably safer to go back to competing only with myself.

Hopefully taking a break from competitive blogging will help me spend less time mired in existential angst and more time with my kids in front of me and the computer screen at my back. At the very least, it will significantly reduce the number of blog posts I read each week, and that should buy me some time.