Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ten Mom Phrases that Need to Die. And Five that Never Get Old.

Everyone loves a new baby. Ok, most normal people do. Even especially when it's not yours. The chub, the eyes, the little features. They're little cherubs full of promise. But if you've ever found yourself hosting one of these cherubs for very long, when you are in public, it seems that people just can't not say something. These people are well-meaning, caring, honest people. But in the excitement of welcoming a little nugget to the Earth, people seem to forget... well.. they forget to shut up. Below is listed (in no particular order) the advice that is given ad naseum to new moms, whether they like it, want it, or agree with it, or not.

1) Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Seriously? Seriously. I wanted to punch every single person in the throat for saying this. Why? BECAUSE NOT ALL BABIES SLEEP, DAMMIT!!! Jminator's sleep cycle was 45 minutes. That was barely enough time to eat or switch a load of laundry. I was so tired I was hallucinating, but only sleeping 40 minutes at a time just made it worse.
If this is your second/third, etc child? Forget it. Now, when our newest is taking HIS 30-minute siestas, I use it to purposely spend one-on-one time with Jminator. I'm still not sleeping. I don't think I'll ever sleep again.

2) Oh, just soak it all in...
 About 3 times today, I've soaked it in. "It" being spit up, vomit, peanut butter, and what I think was a celery stick. All of them found their way into the crevice of my V-neck t-shirt. I literally soaked it into my bra. I understand you're trying to save us the regret of not fully appreciating the time when they're little, but please, have some understanding for the totally overwhelmed, completely exhausted shell of a woman before you. And, get her a towel.

followed by

3) Time goes by so fast.
No. NO it doesn't. In the scheme of maybe ten years, it might. But seriously. People would ask me at J's first birthday party, "Doesn't time just go by so fast?" F-you. NO. is what I wanted to say. That first year was terrible. We went from double incomes where I made twice as much as Hubster, to living on Hubster's income. It was horrible. Utilities were shut off on more than one occasion; Hubster was gone more than usual, leaving me with all responsibilities. I had 3 part-time jobs, but it wasn't enough. So I found a full-time job. That left me working 60 hours a week with no days off just to dig us out of a hole.
I've known many couples who've considered divorce in the first year, others that have had to move, change jobs, etc. While having a baby is wonderful; it's not all wonderful. I think sometimes we forget that.

4) Oh, just wait until....
This is anything from "they're walking" to "they're driving" and anything in between. To me, all this says is "then you'll have it really bad and be miserable like me." To be honest, I like the stages my kids are in, and I know that's going to change. But this one just kinda makes you sound bitter.

5) Well it could be worse, think of if you had...
Yes, twins would be harder. Triplets would be harder. It would be harder if our children were really sick, or if we weren't married or a thousand other scenarios.

6) God's timing is everything.
No. If you say this to ANY WOMAN who has dealt with miscarriage or infertility, you deserve a throat punch. Say this to a mom who's had the courage to admit money is tight, or she's worried about something, you better be paying that bill or at least get her a coffee. While I'm sure you mean well, this is one of the most cruel things sometimes Christians can say. It can feel like you're doing something wrong that only God knows about.

7) If there's anything you need, just ask.
You know we won't ask. We'll just make it work. I know you meant it, but seriously... how many times do you think someone has actually taken you up on that offer?

8) Have you read [insert child-rearing book here] ?
While there are several amazing options available to new moms, it's probably safe to say she hasn't actually sat down to read anything in a while. Same with movies that just came out, plays, the news, or anything that doesn't have something to do with Netflix or children's television.

9) Just be grateful that you have [insert something obvious here]...
We are grateful. SO grateful. But before you make her question her feelings, ask yourself, are you sure she has that? Just because someone is married doesn't mean that she has the help you think she does. Like I said, I've known several couples on the verge of divorce - don't just assume that everything is perfect and that there isn't a bigger struggle here.

10) Can't you just... ?
This was recently featured in another article. And I totally agree. No, sometimes we can't just do anything. Some days (like today) where my toddler is having meltdown after meltdown, my baby won't sleep unless I'm holding him, and my house is a disaster... NO. I can't just do anything unless it involves naptimes, an Ergo, some coffee, and dishes done first.

So why do I bring this up? Because there's plenty of stuff that we need to hear, and really, it never
gets old. Never. So instead of the above homilies... maybe try these instead.

1) You got this.
This has a lot of forms, but really, what it's saying: I believe in you. I believe in your calling as a mother; I believe that you are fully equipped to complete whatever task you have before you; I believe that you are a strong, amazing woman who can do anything she sets her mind to do. Any of that; all of that. Please. Please, we need to hear it. A sweet momma posted this on my newsfeed about a month ago, and it was all I could do not to just start sobbing. Moms sometimes portray a lot of confidence because I think we feel we have to. We know that if our kids sense we're stressed, they'll act out as well. So, much of the time, we fake it.

2) It gets better.
Maybe it's when they get shipped off to West Point, but eventually, momma, you'll sleep through the night again. They'll listen; they'll eat; they'll sleep; they'll figure it out. Just keep at it. Really. Just let us know we'll survive this, because honestly, some days we understand why some species eat their young. I've had so many moms that are maybe only one or two stages ahead of me, and they're a huge help at least guiding me around the blind corners of parenthood.

3) I want to [insert something actually helpful] What's a good day to do that?
Bring coffee over. Bring milk and bread over. Bring coffee over. Bring ice cream over. Bring lunch/dinner/coffee over. Just text her first, or just leave it on the porch, etc. if you think you could.
Don't just add homilies. Actually do something.

4) You look great!
Or beautiful, or "Wow you've lost weight!" Look, ten to one, she may have not had a shower that day, or if she has, it's like the first one that week. Maybe she has makeup on; maybe she doesn't. Maybe her shoes don't even match. Whatever. Let her know that she's better than the hot mess she thinks she is. It'll go a long way to boosting a young mom's self confidence. Again, hearing this one from our husbands, goes a very, very long way.

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