As any person who has ever been pregnant can probably tell you, the moment you announce to the world that you're expecting (either through verbal acknowledgement or a growing belly),
your body becomes public property. Anything you do, don't do, say, touch, smell, or think all become subjects of discussion and scrutiny — whether you want them to be or not. It's basically the worst and you think, "Oh God, I can't wait until this is over so I don't have to deal with people being uncouth idiots anymore." To that I say, "Ever read ? Be careful what you wish for, little one." The Monkey's Paw
For as soon as your baby enters your life, you get hit with
even more inappropriate input from others. Waves of inappropriateness. Tsunamis of inappropriateness. Expecting a child (either via pregnancy, adoption, surrogacy — whatever) was just the gateway to this new world where people think manners are for chumps. Parenthood is basically The Land That Emily Post Forgot.
New moms have it hard enough, what with the new baby and (if they gave birth) massive physical changes going on in their bodies. Then they have to put up with the kinds of questions, statements, and opinions that would generally be recognized as inappropriate and overly familiar in basically any other setting. For example...
"Do You Have To Go Back To Work?"
I mean... do you ask a dad who's just had a baby that? Or is there another big life change where you ask someone if they'll be returning to work? I've found that even if there's an instance of serious illness, the question isn't "Do you have to go back to work?" it's, "
When will you be able to go back to work?" Because there's a basic understanding that working is necessary to, ya know, not starving or being thrown out of your home. Do you not understand that now that we have a child, we will require more money? And hey, maybe the mom in question has worked things out that she or her partner will be able to stay home with their new baby. But that's not for you to bring up. "How Do You Plan To Lose The Weight?"
Imagine if we said this to anyone we noticed who gained weight? I feel like the implication here is, "Oh, well pregnant people can't
help that they've gained weight, so it's not offensive to talk about it." Yes. Yes it is. Don't talk about it. If they want to lose any weight they've gained, that's fine, but it does not require your input. "Tell Me All About The Details Of This Personal And Intimate Experience"
If the mom you are speaking with physically gave birth herself, you may be curious as to what that was like. And that makes sense: Humans are curious creatures and birth is shrouded in a bit of mystery... but it's still a deeply personal experience, and comparably personal experiences would never be subject to as much scrutiny by friends, family, and/or strangers as birth is. Now, some people enjoy sharing the literally bloody details of their birth experience. But assuming that
everyone is going to be cool telling you whether or not they pooped on their doctor (or whatever) is presumptive and rude. Maybe you'll get to hear all about this, but slow your roll and let the other person bring it up. Or ask general questions, like "What was birth like?" or... "What's Your Vagina Like Now?"
NO! We know that asking after a person's fancy bits is rude under pretty much any other circumstance. Why would after birth be any different? Shush.
"If You Think This Is Hard, Just You Wait"
I've never seen people kick other people when they're down more than in instances with new moms. Like, if I had a really tough project for work that I was struggling with, would you say, "If you think
this is hard, wait until next quarter!" No. That would make you a jerk. Respect the struggle! "You Look So Tired"
Because they almost certainly
are tired. You don't have to make that worse by highlighting the fact that they look like crap to boot. Would you say that to a teacher or a co-worker? Then don't say it to a new mom. "Let Me Hold It"
I get it: Babies are adorable and you want to snuggle them. But can you imagine if I showed you my new iPhone or something and you're like, "Oooh! Let me take that from you for a bit!"
Asking to hold a baby? Fine. But don't be grabby. It's literally not a toy. Constantly Comparing Their Experience To Yours
The level of tone deaf one-upsmanship new mothers face is unlike anything I've ever seen...except maybe the tone deaf one-upsmanship they continue to see as their children grow up (Lord help us).
"Are You Going To Have Another One Soon/Get Your Tubes Tied?"
Think about this in terms of breakfast. Say we go out to breakfast and immediately after I finish you ask, "Are you going to get another meal soon? How soon? Are you going to wait for a bit? I find the perfect space between breakfast and lunch is 4 hours. Do you think that's what you'll do?" Or, conversely, "Now. This is IT for you, right? No more meals today. Because one is ENOUGH."
Don't judge my food or reproductive choices,
especially not immediately after I've just eaten or had a kid. "I Can't Believe You're A Mom!"
I can't think of any life change that gets the same type of disbelief that becoming a mother does. Think about it. Does anyone say, "I can't
believe you're a college graduate?" the same way they say, "You're a mom!" The former can have a level of disbelief, but that usually has to do with the passage of time, right? Like, "I can't believe you're a college graduate because it seems like only yesterday you were running around the playground of P.S. 103." When someone says, "I can't believe you're a mom!" the disbelief has to do with the idea that something about this person is now fundamentally different. Sure, motherhood can change a person, but it doesn't transform them into an unknown entity who has nothing to do with the person they were before they became a parent.
And that's the moral of the story here, isn't it? Moms are regular people and so the regular rules of decorum still apply.
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