For the record, I was (and still am) very thankful for all the people who offered well-wishes and meaningful advice directly after my son was born. It was a confusing, intense, stressful time so every reminder that I was loved and supported made me (and my partner) feel like we weren't alone. That said, some of these exchanges did start to wear on me. Despite good intentions, some of the things people say to new moms aren’t quite as helpful as they think. When well-meaning strangers offered kind platitudes, or concerned family members attempted to help, or even polite staff members at my doctor’s office started to take the conversation down a similar path, I had to inwardly brace myself and master the art of the (always helpful) internal scream.
Much like the comments and observations we get as pregnant women, there can be so much going on under the surface of a new mom, that turn polite comments into subtle judgements no matter how well-intentioned someone may be. It’s not that I happen to run with an especially insensitive crowd, or that I have particularly thin skin (although, um, I kinda do), it’s that many of the things the collective "we" says to new mothers create and exacerbate the stresses of new parenthood, and when you're stuck hearing them one after another, you can get um, a little tired and frustrated and (for lack of a better word) freakin' angry. Here are 12 things new moms are tired of hearing, if you're ready to see what I mean.
"Sleep When The Baby Sleeps"
If only it were this simple. Let's overlook the fact that babies sleep for weird lengths of time and odd periods throughout the day, and just focus on how it's nearly impossible to shut off a new mom brain long enough to drift into blissful unconsciousness. I would have loved to have slept when the baby slept, but that would mean I wouldn't be awake to hear his irregular breathing, question the cause of his adorable sniffles, and search terrifying things on WebMD.
"When Are You Going Back To Work?"
Perhaps people who began maternity leave with a specific end date in mind wouldn't feel waves of intense stress when asked about it. But for the rest of us, who were figuring it out as we went, that question is as just as stressful as someone asking a college senior what they're going to do after high school. I could hardly discuss the topic without breaking out into a cold sweat.
"Is That Normal?"
Um, you tell me? I just met this baby last week. I don't really know. But now that you mention it, maybe it isn't normal and maybe something is horribly wrong and maybe I should ask google and maybe I should continue to spiral out of my sleep-deprived mind. Thanks for asking.
"Can You Bring Your Baby In For A Weigh-in?"
*sigh* Yes, I'm very thankful I had access to reliable and helpful medical care. I'm also extremely sad it didn't include house visits. Packing up my newborn and getting him to my doctor's office for daily weigh-ins during his first week is a monumental feat on par with SoulCycle (so I've heard, my workout regiment still isn't that ambitious).
Any Kind Of Awkward Joke About Tiredness
Yes, new parents are tired. Yes, it's hard. And yes, I'm only laughing at your jokes to hide my tears.
"I Loved Having A Newborn"
Well, I loved summer camp and college. This is not the same thing. And while I think it is wonderful that some women loved the newborn phase, saying how wonderful and magical it was for you when I'm clearly hanging on by a thread only leaves me weighed down with even more self-doubt. Please, by all means, share your experiences and bask in the awe that was newborn life, but maybe just don't do it while I'm trying to prop my eyelids open.
"Can We Come Over?"
Can we meet somewhere that I don't have to feel pressure to clean and/or apologize for the state of my home? Actually, can we just meet in a few months when I feel like I can actually handle motherhood?
"It's Supposed To Be Hard"
Well, yes, I know it's supposed to be hard. So are calculus and break-ups and taxes. But, in this case, I can't really drown my sorrows in wine and ice cream because not only can I not drink wine (thanks, breastfeeding) but ice cream isn't nutritious enough to sustain my milk supply (again, thanks breastfeeding).
"Have You Tried Cry It Out/Essential Oils/Cloth Diapers/Formula?"
Chances are that yes, yes we have, or no, no we have not; each for very specific reasons. I'll definitely answer quickly and politely, so as not to invite additional commentary, because this is about to go deep into parenting philosophy and I don't have it in me right now to defend any choices that may vary from yours.
"It's Okay, We Totally Don't Mind Messes. We Still Want To Come Over."
Oh, um, but I thought everyone knew that when I said, "But my house is messy," you knew that you were supposed to retract the invitation you gave yourself to come over...? I get that you might not care (thank you, by the way) but I do. I want to feel comfortable around new guests in my home with a new family member, so give me some time, OK?
This is a sweet sentiment, but pictures require me to use my phone as something other than a breastfeeding and/or diaper tracker so that complicates things a bit.
"It Gets Better At 6 Weeks/8 Weeks/6 Months/2 Years"
Wait, I'm sorry, I think I misunderstood, did you mean to say at eight days?