Let me preface this by saying that I really, truly appreciate the sympathy and empathy shown to new mothers. I also really appreciate the help and advice given to us. I don't want to sound ungrateful, because really, I am grateful. My sister-in-law just gave birth to her first and throughout her pregnancy and now with a newborn, has occasionally posted things on Facebook out of frustration. She rarely complains, but has had a rough pregnancy and has let show a couple of times. Often they are posts that are just asking if anyone has any advice. There are three phrases that I have seen over and over in response to her posts and those of a few other pregnant/new mother friends that drive me crazy. I rarely get offended and to be honest, these don't actually offend me, they just annoy the heck out of me. They are:
1. "Better get some sleep now, because once the baby comes, you won't get any."
2. "Just wait until..." (closely related to "If you think that's bad...")
3. "Welcome to motherhood."
I'm pretty sure I've even said some of these before and I know most people don't mean anything by them, but here's why they drive me crazy:
1. "Better sleep now..." This usually directly follows a comment from the pregnant mother about how she's having trouble sleeping (and usually the pregnant mother's comment was in response to a question about whether or not she's sleeping well).
a. I'm pretty sure she already knows that newborns are the bearers of sleep-deprivation.
b. She didn't just say she's not sleeping well because she's out partying or watching infomercials. She said she's trying
and it's not working
c. Sleep isn't something you can squirrel away like acorns for a long winter. If she sleeps 16 hours uninterrupted every night from now until the baby is born, she will still be exhausted when the baby comes.
2."Just wait until..."
We all know that teenagers are a thousand times more stressful than toddlers and four-year-olds are stronger and therefore can throw more destructive tantrums than 2-year-olds and toddlers throwing temper tantrums are more embarrassing than crying babies, but when a crying baby seems impossible to sooth, it seems plenty stressful right now! New moms don't need to hear all about how much worse it's going to be in a couple years.
3. "Welcome to motherhood."
I even understand the sentiment behind this one. When a friend or someone you watched grow up (or a child you raised yourself, though I've never been in the position myself) is going through some of the classic new mom frustrations, you think back almost
fondly on when you went through the same thing. You smile and maybe you chuckle and then you type something like this. It comes from a bit of sympathy, a bit of nostalgia, a bit of relief that you're past that stage and, if we're being honest, a tiny bit of amusement that they're in that stage. For some reason though, every time I read it or hear it, it seems incredibly condescending. For whatever reason this one really gets under my skin. The little passive aggressive person inside my head (whom I try my best to keep locked up) just screams, "So nice of you to welcome her, because now that she's dealt with a screaming baby all night/a poo blowout/a baby with day and night reversed/another extremely frustrating situation, she's really a mom. Because, you know, carrying a baby for nine months and then pushing 8 pounds of human out of her *** doesn't make her a mother. Nor does falling in love with a tiny little person and feeding and nurturing her child. Sleep deprivation and getting pooped on does." I got welcomed to motherhood just a few weeks ago after posting something out of frustration. That little passive aggressive jerk piped up inside my skull, "Thanks. Now please explain to me why the past three years don't count." This is the one that got me thinking about all the others and sparked this vent. My SIL posted asking for advice the other day and three, three
separate women commenting on the same exact post decided that rather than giving her advice, or even simply saying "Sorry, I know it's rough. I hope it gets better soon," they would just slap out a good old "Welcome to Motherhood."
Like I said, I appreciate sympathy, empathy, advice, concern, and all other forms of help for a new mom. I would never say any of these things to someone who thinks they're helping, or being clever, or whatever, which is why I'm posting them here
, so they ever pop out of my mouth there.
I just wish sometimes people would think a little more before piping up. I think it should be taught in schools. In general before speaking to anyone, but also specifically before speaking to a pregnant woman, and like I said, I'm guilty as well. All we have to do is think, "Is what I'm about to say incredibly obvious? Will it depress her about the future? Will it really only serve my own amusement?" If so, rethink and find something constructive to say. There. I just wrote the lesson. Do we have any curriculum-writers here who could work on getting this into our schools?
Whew. I feel better now.