When you become a mother, you're thrown into a whole new world of diapers and feeding, strange schedules and unwanted advice, self-doubt and immense joy. Despite the drastic life-change, every mom eventually figures out what works best for her and her child (or children). Sometimes it's with the help of others, sometimes it's through trial and error; usually it's a healthy combination of both. Still, there are times when a well-meaning friend, family member or fellow mom tries to help, and only ends up offending or upsetting a brand new, potentially clueless but still capable mother. While the ways you're angering new moms and not realizing it are often unintentional, they're still hurtful and can leave even the most confident mother questioning what she knows is right.
When I became a mom, I had friends, family members, moms and non-moms try and tell me what I should and should not do. I knew that, for the most part, they had the best intentions and were simply trying to help, but those best intentions didn't keep people from eventually judging me, especially if I didn't decide to take them up on their well-meaning advice. Motherhood is hard enough, without feeling like you're failing the people around you just because you're not doing what they would have done or what they think you should do. It's definitely hard enough without strangers telling you you're "doing it wrong."
New moms may be especially sensitive to the advice, unnecessary facial expressions, and non-verbal cues that say, "Yeah, you don't know what you're doing." Do new mothers sometimes need and appreciate help? Of course. However, don't assume that every new mom is out of her elements. We're capable. We're knowledgable. In the end, we're the mom.
Shaking Your Head Quietly When Listening To A Story Or A Parenting Decision
When you shake your head quietly in the corner, we all know exactly what you're thinking. Yes, I appreciate you not coming up to me and voicing your own opinion, but your actions are as loud as your words.
Those Rude Side Glances
Again, I am right here and can see you. You are not invisible. If you have an opinion and don't want to share it, I think it's best not to act on it at all. If you would like to share your opinion, you obviously may and, hey, I might even learn from your opinion. However, I might not, and I would appreciate you understanding that, at the end of the day, I am going to do what I think is best.
Saying "You Have No Clue What You're Doing, Do You?"
Well, seeing as how I am a new mom, no I don't really know what I'm doing. Does that have to be a bad thing, though? There's a first time for everything and the last time I checked, there was no rule that said you have to know what you're doing first before you have a kid. In fact, I would argue no one really knows what they're doing when they become parents for the first time. Sure, we study up and read and ask questions and try to be as prepared as possible, but at the end of the day we're simply learning as we go.
Of course you need to have a basic understanding of responsibility and the ability to care for someone and put their needs first, but you don't have to be a baby expert yet. That comes only with experience.
Quietly Whispering To Others Around You
You really need to work on your whispering skills... I can hear every word you are saying and again, if you don't want to share your opinion with me, keep it to yourself. It's the same thing we're trying to teach our kids here, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Don't be rude to me just because we have a difference of opinion and do things differently.
Constantly Giving Unsolicited Advice...
Look, I know you mean well and are just trying to help, but it's all too much. I didn't ask for help. I didn't want your help. When I want and need your help, I'll be sure to ask. Again, thanks for the thought and offer, but right now, I'm good without advice (especially when I'm this tired, because I am having a hard time just figuring out what you're saying.)
...And Constantly Sharing Your Personal Opinion
The internet has made it oh-so easy for everyone to voice their opinion and, honestly, I don't think that's a bad thing. Communication is how we learn and connect with one another, so I'm all about it. However, don't assume that just because you can give your opinion on any particular subject, you should. When it comes to parenting, I know what's best for my kid (and my family). Yes, you can have an opinion, but please don't feel like you constantly need to voice it.
Trying To Take Control
I get that you're a mom, but that doesn't mean that you know everything or know best for my child. If I ask you to take control and help me with something, that's one thing. But if I don't, please do not intervene and think that you can do a better job of taking care of my child than I can. When this happens, it's usually more hurtful than helpful, because the routine I've established with my kid ends up getting altered.
Acting Like Their Child Is Your Own
I am the mother and that means I have final say as to how to parent my child. Don't act like my child is yours unless we are close and that's just how our family-friend-relationship is.
Point Blank Saying "You're Wrong"
Motherhood is hard, and we're all looking for some sort of validation so we can feel like what we're doing is the best thing for our baby. I get it, I really do. However, what is best for one baby isn't necessarily what's best for another. So, please don't assume what I'm doing is "wrong," simply because it's not what you're doing. In the end, we're all just trying to do our best for our kids (and ourselves).
Assuming Their Lives Are "Over"
Thanks to societal expectations of mothers, it's pretty common for people to assume your "life is over" once you become a mom. Because mothers are told they have to sacrifice every single part of themselves in order to be "good mothers," people think that a new mom can no longer be herself or go out or have fun or have her own dreams or aspirations.
My life isn't over because I chose to and became a mother. In fact, in so many ways, my life is just beginning, and it has only been enriched by my daughter. I still have my own personality and my own individuality, I just also have motherhood as another facet of my personality. I can still go out and still do the things I loved to do. I'm still me.
Telling Them To "Enjoy Every Minute"
Yes, I do enjoy and love and cherish my daughter and the many moments we spend together. However, I don't really appreciate the tantrums. I mean, who does? I don't have to love every single part of motherhood, in order to love being a mother. Yes, I know the time goes by so fast and, yes, I know the tough times will pass. Still, I am allowed to be a human and feel very human emotions, like frustration or anger or sadness. Sometimes, I don't appreciate every single minute of motherhood, and that's OK. It's definitely normal and it's definitely warranted and it definitely doesn't make me a bad mother.