I'VE never been one for competitive sports but it seems I've been unwittingly thrown into the ring of the most brutal competition of all time - mothering.
Lately I've been wondering just when being a mum stopped being about raising a child and started being about one-upping all the other mums out there.
It's not enough to be rearing a decent human being; you must produce an exceptional individual about whom you can continually brag while documenting your family's every waking moment on Facebook.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg certainly has a lot to answer for, and I don't just mean his continued refusal to create a "dislike" button.
The world was already a selfish place and then this website comes along where everyone is the star of their own show and look what's happened.
Now we're all stuck "liking" our friends' trivial updates about their mundane lives while continuing our own mundane lives and trying to think how we can make them sound a bit more exciting.
People bragging about their offspring is hardly a new phenomenon but never before has there been such a forum for it.
The competition begins before the child is even born.
From the moment that "we're having a baby" status pops up, it's all about image.
The nursery must look just perfect, stocked with the most expensive brand-name everything.
It doesn't matter whether you can afford it (that's what credit cards are for) because anything less than the best won't do for your already doted-on fetus.
You must also share every kick and every craving with everybody you know (and some you don't) via good old Facebook.
And don't forget the all-important professional photography shoot of the bump, because clearly the arrival of the actual child will not serve as proof enough that you were pregnant.
True to form, you must upload the images so everyone can cluck over your highly Photoshopped, low-lit belly.
It doesn't matter if you actually looked like an elephant during your pregnancy; thanks to your pro shots no one in the cyber world will ever have to know.
And as for your friends in the real world, well, who are they?
You spend hours agonising over the colour of the sheets for the nursery and where to place the wall decal (a fancy word for sticker) featuring some sort of waffle about how much you and your other half love the baby which, clearly, unless you give birth to a freakish genius baby, the baby can't read anyway.
But that's not the point, is it? The point is that 47 people will "like" the photo.
Then all of a sudden you're off Facebook for more than 45 minutes and people start to realise something is going on - OMG, they're having the baby! (Or the internet's down - but for the sake of excitement, let's say it's the former.)
Once you get through the grueling labour (a whole day without Facey - oh and those contractions were no fun, either) then the onslaught of photos of your "precious angel" can start, along with your war stories about your natural, drug-free labour.
Honestly, what's the big deal?
I'm not ashamed to say I had an epidural, and holy bloody hell it felt pretty good after more than 24 hours' labour.
Why are women not expected to have pain relief for what is likely the most painful thing that will ever happen to them?
If you broke your leg and then refused pain relief at the hospital, the medical staff would roll their eyes and call you an idiot behind your back, but if you decide to forgo it during labour you're some sort of hero.
I've always thought some midwives were real cows for discouraging the use of epidurals during labour, but having now been there I think it's because they know those who give in will have to listen to hours of bragging from those who don't.
Luckily, I gave birth to an adorable genius so I've got plenty of other stuff to brag about, but for those who delivered shriveled Benjamin Button lookalikes into the world I guess it would help to have drug-free labour stories to cling to.
And that's just the first leg of the competition over with - once the child can actually do things, then it's all about how early each milestone was reached.
First time they smiled, first time they rolled over, first time they sat up, first tooth (seriously, growing a tooth is an achievement now?).
I'm waiting for the day some new parent posts a photo of a nappy full of black muck with the caption: "Sooo proud of our little boy for doing his first ever poo. U make mummy and daddy so happy every day even tho your (sic) only one day old."
It's all rather nauseating, isn't it?
I'm not saying you shouldn't be proud of your child's every achievement, no matter how small, I'm just saying the rest of the world probably doesn't give a rat's patootie that your kid can do something pretty much every other human being that age can do.
Do I have some of my own nauseating status updates to confess to? Certainly.
But hey, my kid's a certified adorable genius, what do you expect?
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